Home » Immunity Health & Wellness » The Virus Doesn’t Care, and It Never Will
Immunity Health & Wellness

The Virus Doesn’t Care, and It Never Will

Photo: Courtesy of Luiz Paulo R Santos

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, does not care about politics, an individual’s socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, or age. It has one mission: infect whoever and as many as it can.

Patricia Olinger

Executive Director, GBAC a Division of ISSA

Over the past year and a half, we’ve realized just how quickly pathogens can travel from person to person. This has caused us to adjust infection prevention protocols, including increased cleaning and disinfection efforts, face coverings, social distancing, and more.

Someday, we will look back, discuss, and debate our response to the pandemic. But right now, we must come together and take every step we can to care for one another, because the virus doesn’t care.

Cleaning experts

I am a registered biosafety professional. Until I joined ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, to lead its Global Biorisk Advisory Council™ (GBAC) division, I had been a leader in environmental, health, and safety. I was known for my work in biosafety and biorisk management. For most of my career, I have provided biosafety support to research organizations involved in human and animal healthcare.

I have worked with teams that put some of the first AIDS drugs on the market, treated four of the Ebola patients that came to the United States in 2014, and trained amazing individuals in Africa on biorisk management principles.

Was I surprised when the pandemic hit? Not exactly. In January 2020, I wrote an article that was published in ISSA Today called “Facing the Next Pandemic.” In the article, I discussed how we weren’t prepared. Biosafety and healthcare professionals predicted for some time that a pandemic was coming, we just didn’t know when and what the exact virus would be. 

We know this will not be the last emerging virus to infect humans. I tend to look at things through a holistic lens. We must protect people, communities, and the environment around us. 

We are currently fighting a war with an invisible opponent. It exploits every weakness we show. There isn’t just one solution that will end this war. With a layered response that includes resources, trust, and leadership, we can defeat COVID-19.

Resources and training

A prepared and well-trained front line includes all of us in the cleaning industry. At the beginning of this pandemic, we saw the impact of limited resources. 

Healthcare workers did not have the appropriate amount of personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe while caring for the sick. Facility managers struggled to acquire cleaning and disinfecting equipment as manufacturers around the globe faced supply chain issues. The public panicked, leading to a shortage of common household items. 

This lesson has shown how critical it is to ensure that our essential workplaces and workers have the necessary training and tools to stay safe and continue fighting on the front lines. This extends to custodians within essential facilities, including those handling healthcare, education, food service, and travel, as they clean for health and protect everyone who works, visits, or passes through.

We must learn to trust one another, especially the experts who have spent countless hours researching, studying, and determining how to get us out of this pandemic. We can’t trust just any online information that is spreading faster than the virus. It’s important to have conversations with medical, biorisk, and infection prevention professionals who understand the complexity of the virus and the best solutions we must fight it.

Finally, we must lead from within. Not only do we need leadership that inspires and moves organizations and communities forward, but we need to become leaders ourselves. We choose our own behaviors every day, thus choosing the outcome of this pandemic. 

Our decisions today will impact our future years from now.

Next article