Posts Tagged ‘disinfect’


Photo: Walter McBride/ Getty Images
Using drones to clean theaters could have long-lasting effects. Here’s Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre with no people.

The other day, in my friend’s yard (six feet apart), we were discussing whether there were any positive things that would come out of the coronavirus — you know, like people washing their hands more and coughing into their elbows more and hence fewer colds. On this blog, we’ve seen lots of ideas from the arts community that could also continue in some form.  And what about more widespread appreciation of nature and healthy family relationships?

Changes in the way some companies do business may survive, too, but whether they will be positive remains to be seen. I’d be sorry to think the drone in today’s story would put anyone out of work. But as a curiosity, it’s something to talk about.

Marc Hershberg writes at Forbes, “As Broadway executives debate different strategies for reopening theaters following the COVID-19 pandemic, a Buffalo-based start-up company named EagleHawk has developed drones to spray disinfectants in Broadway theaters. …

“The disinfectant is stored on the ground, and pumped through a hose to the hovering drone, which then spreads it throughout the theater. Meanwhile, another drone drifts underneath it to make sure that the hose does not get tangled in any of the seats. …

“ ‘A Broadway theater could be disinfected by a drone in less than an hour, and without putting people on the front line,’ [Will Schulmeister, EagleHawk’s chief operating officer] said.

“While Broadway theater owners might be afraid of allowing the machines to flutter around their landmarked venues, the executives at EagleHawk insist that it is safe to operate inside. … The technology has been tested in several large venues, including KeyBank Center, the arena of the Buffalo Sabres professional hockey team. …

“While following the government guidelines for cleaning surfaces to get rid of pathogens like SARS-CoV-2, ‘we can control the liquid spray enough to not over-saturate the seats and still meet disinfection requirements,’ Schulmeister stated. …

“ ‘I could see the new drone technology being a good choice for arenas, stadiums, and large performing arts centers with thousands of seats,’ commented Susquehanna University theatre professor Erik Viker.

“While the leading Broadway theater owners declined to discuss their plans for cleaning seats after the pandemic, some facilities folks do not think that using the drones would fly.

“ ‘Actors are super hyper-sensitive to anything sprayed in the air,’ recognized a former theater executive. It is possible that the chemicals used to sanitize the seats might irritate some performers and affect their vocal abilities, much like dust and mildew. …

“Some smaller theaters have been experimenting with other possible alternatives, such as wands that emit ultraviolet light and machines that make antibacterial fogs. ‘We’re spending money on things to make the audience feel more comfortable,’ commented one small theater owner in Florida.” More at Forbes, here.

What coronovirus effects do you believe will last, if not cleaning by drone? More sense of community? More individualism and self-sufficiency? Sourcing food locally?

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Photo: Brian Kaiser
N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are collected daily from hospitals, fire departments, etc., for eight hours of decontamination with hydrogen peroxide vapor at Battelle. The PPE is then put in individual bags marked with how many times they have been disinfected.

It’s scary to read that doctors are having to reuse N95 masks, but it turns out that if the masks have been steamed in hydrogen peroxide vapor for eight hours, they can be reused safely up to 20 times. How can we get this service for everyone?

Tiffany Hsu has the story at the New York Times, “Inside the rural Ohio labs run by Battelle, a nonprofit research and development firm, … employees have spent the recent weeks decontaminating over 30,000 used face masks for doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Each day, N95 masks collected from more than 100 hospitals, clinics, fire departments and nursing homes are treated for hours with a hydrogen peroxide vapor. Once cleaned, the masks are sent back to the same facilities to be reused.

“A severe shortage of personal protective equipment has left hospitals desperate as the outbreak continues to spread. …

“For Battelle, which usually develops products across a range of disciplines, from robotics to oil drilling, the decontamination project is an attempt to extend the lives of masks that already exist.

“Late last month, Battelle was granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to expand its decontamination efforts. … Its process, what they call the Critical Care Decontamination System, will eventually be able to clean 80,000 masks a day per site, and [each] mask can be cleaned up to 20 times before losing effectiveness.

“Hundreds of employees are involved, and thousands more are being hired, with many going through training to set up decontamination sites on Long Island and in Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. For now, the bulk of the operations are happening roughly 20 miles west of downtown Columbus.

“Like many efforts underway, Battelle’s project was barely an idea three weeks ago. The company had used vaporized hydrogen peroxide to sterilize sensitive equipment for years. But to develop a large-scale decontamination process, the logistics were hurriedly sketched out on a conference room table by a handful of experts and executives.

“Battelle’s West Jefferson [Ohio] site has since received scores of face coverings, double-bagged and stored in boxes marked with biohazard symbols. Health care networks like OhioHealth and Mercy Health are delivering their used masks by trained couriers. Recently, the chief of a local fire department dropped off masks in person. …

“Preparing newly arrived masks for decontamination requires small teams of workers in the tents, each wearing black rubber boots, two layers of gloves, surgical scrubs, a lab coat and a portable, powered air purifying respirator attached to a belt that blows filtered air into a closed hood over the worker’s head.

“Each mask is inspected before it is processed; roughly 10 percent are soiled or broken and cannot be decontaminated, according to [Kevin Sayers, who is helping to oversee the West Jefferson operation]. ‘We’re seeing a lot of masks right now that have makeup on them,’ he said.

“When ready to be decontaminated, the masks are brought inside a 1,000-cubic-foot chamber. Inside the decontamination chamber, the teams position the masks, in batches of 5,000 per cycle, on wire shelves affixed to the chamber’s metal walls, taking care to avoid overlapping.

The workers then exit the chamber, spraying themselves with a 70-percent alcohol solution. The precaution requires a gallon of alcohol each day.

Read about the rest of the process at the New York Times, here.

Oct. 8, 2020. Uh-oh. This post needs an update as the FDA has now condemned the business for not considering problems like allergies. Read this.

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Image: Youtube

Because our age puts my husband and me in a high-risk category for Covid-19 and because I know the pandemic won’t last forever, I’m going to try the doctor’s grocery-disinfecting techniques from the 13-minute video below. It’s a lot of work and most people will think it’s nuts. But there are some good tips here. And you know, unless you are a health-care worker or suddenly homeschooling, you do have time.

Among the easier tips: leaving nonperishables in the garage or on the porch for the three days it takes for the contagion to dissipate; buy only hot takeout and reheat it in the microwave or stove; toss the outer cereal box and just keep the inner liner; dump bread into a container you can seal and throw out the bread bag.

Most people could manage that, I think.

Meanwhile, I confess that I am washing bananas now, but I’m not yet at the doctor’s 20-second requirement. At first my husband said, “Wash bananas? They have their own skin and you throw it out.” But then he realized we weren’t talking about washing because you are going to eat the banana but because the outside of anything that unknown people have touched can spread germs around your house.

But he still wasn’t really on board. Then he read a New York Times article by infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, here, called “It’s Too Late to Avoid Disaster, But There Are Still Things We Can Do” (!) and decided maybe we do have to up our game. We’re on our own. Watch the video, and let me know what you think.

On a more cheerful note, whenever I can get technology to work, it’s been a pretty great boon. We had a four-way chat with our kids on FaceTime yesterday that was fun and funny, and today I go online with What’s App or Skype to help an Afghan asylum seeker with her grad school application.

Hang in, Folks. This won’t last forever.

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