To provide a clean and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty and staff, the Cornell Building Care staff uses only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and industry best practices on an ongoing daily basis in our buildings. We also monitor the EPA, CDC and public health organizations and follow any new cleaning recommendations they have related to the virus.
- COVID-19 Guidance for Facilities Management Staff
- Hierarchy of Controls for Facilities Restart (PDF)
- COVID-19 Hierarchy of Controls
- Facilities Start-up Checklist (PDF)
- Campus Start-up Water Distribution SOP
- Ithaca Campus Building Care Cleaning Procedure
- Restart Cleaning Procedure
- Health and Safety Plan for Construction Contractors (PDF)
Products & Procedures
How long does it take for a disinfectant to kill COVID-19?
The virus that causes COVID-19 has a limited life span outside the human body. Under laboratory conditions SARS-CoV-2 is more stable on smooth surfaces. The virus is greatly reduced after 72 hours.
Current literature indicates that there is:
- No viable virus after three hours on tissue or printing paper.
- No viable virus after four hours on copper surfaces.
- No viable virus after 24 hours on cardboard surfaces.
- No viable virus after two days on wood or cloth*.
- No viable virus after four days on banknotes or glass.
- No viable virus after seven days on plastic or stainless steel.
*The article does not discuss what the cloth is, and composition — material or weight — may play a role.
Which disinfectants kill COVID-19?
The EPA-Registered Disinfectants from List N meet the EPA's criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Which surfaces need to be disinfected and how frequently should disinfection occur?
Disinfect high touch surfaces in your personal and shared workspaces frequently, at a minimum daily. Disinfect shared equipment before and after use.
High touch surfaces include door handles/knobs, drawers, cabinet handles, chair backs, chair arms, refrigerator handles, pens, light switches, desk and cellphones, keyboards, mice, remotes, monitors, etc.
What is the recommended practice for disinfecting surfaces?
When using an EPA-registered disinfectant from List N, follow the label directions for safe, effective use. Check "use sites" and "surface types" to see where you can use the product. Read the "precautionary statements." Wash the surface with soap and water if the directions mention pre-cleaning or if the surface is visibly dirty. Wear gloves when applying disinfectant and follow the dwell time (contact time), which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet, to ensure the product is effective. Discard disposable gloves after each cleaning and wash hands after removing gloves.
How is the university cleaning and disinfecting buildings across campus?
To provide a clean and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty and staff, Cornell Building Care staff uses only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and industry best practices on an ongoing daily basis in our buildings. We also monitor the EPA, CDC and public health organizations and follow any new cleaning recommendations they have related to the virus.
We have enhanced our cleaning regimen whereby high touch point areas, such as door handles, light switches, and tables, are disinfected twice a day. Cleaning is performed using a cleaning agent approved by the EPA to kill SARS-COV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are also dedicated isolation and quarantine rooms on campus with a small, dedicated team of staff that are fully trained to clean and disinfect these rooms after any use, along with following CDC protocols to ensure that all materials that leave these areas are properly disposed of without endangering the welfare of others.
How will the university clean and disinfect an area exposed to COVID-19?
Category 3 Cleaning Protocol is activated upon notification from EHS or the Office of Emergency Management to Cornell Building Care that a case of COVID- 19 has been confirmed for a Cornell employee, student or contractor who performs work in a Cornell-owned or leased facility or space. If the space has not been occupied for seven days or more, disinfection actions by Building Care are not required, based on virus stability, and will not be performed.
How can I disinfect my workplace?
The university has implemented an enhanced cleaning frequency to clean and disinfect common areas and commonly touched surfaces in Cornell buildings; they are being cleaned at least once daily, five days a week by our custodial staff. Please assist us in maintaining a healthy environment by cleaning objects in your personal and shared workspaces throughout the day. Surfaces to clean include door handles and knobs, keyboards/mice, monitors, desktops, remotes, light switches, desk and cellphones, shared workstations, chair arms, etc.
- Use EPA-approved List N cleaning products (such as Lysol and Clorox wipes). Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning products.
- Where surfaces are visibly dirty, clean with soap and water prior to disinfection.
- After cleaning, dispose of used cleaning materials, and immediately wash hands.
- Discard items used for cleaning, such as disposable towels, in trash cans.
- Disinfect frequently, at a minimum daily.
How can we promote effective handwashing in labs and offices?
Wash hands before eating, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, after touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched, and before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Additional hand washing guidance, including posters to promote effective handwashing, is available on the CDC website.
Are special air filtration systems needed to stop the potential spread of COVID-19 in residence halls and academic buildings?
The principal mode of transmission is thought to be respiratory droplets, which may travel up to 6 feet from someone that is sneezing or coughing. COVID-19 is not believed to be an airborne virus, like measles or smallpox, that can circulate through the air. Consequently, special air filters are not required in building HVAC systems.
Mail and Packages
Do I need to disinfect mail or other packages before handling them?
Per current CDC guidance, there is a very low risk of spreading COVID-19 through products or packaging that have been shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Additionally, recent data indicates that the virus that causes COVID-19 is unlikely to remain viable on cardboard surfaces after 24 hours.
To protect yourself and others, refrain from touching your face, mouth or eyes while handling mail and other shipments, wash your hands after performing such operations, practice physical distancing and stay home if you are feeling ill.
How often are TCAT buses cleaned and disinfected?
TCAT is taking as many precautions as possible to protect its riders and employees during the pandemic, and has provided details about their procedures on their COVID-19 webpage.