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GermBlast gets ECISD ready for fall - Odessa American: ECISD

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GermBlast gets ECISD ready for fall

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Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2020 12:10 pm

To help prepare for the start of school, Ector County ISD has contracted with a firm called GermBlast to do as its name implies and blast out the germs that were in the schools.

The company will return twice more during the year and if there is an outbreak of illness whether it’s COVID-19 or something else. The cost to ECISD will be $479,976.18 for the year.

GermBlast Vice President Christy Haynes said the district has partnered with her firm to help reduce the transmission of infections and illnesses and provide a healthier environment for students and staff.

Whether it’s strep, stomach bugs, COVID-19 or anything beyond the norm, Haynes said the district can call the company and they will send a team back to Odessa.

“… It also goes for the athletic areas, so if they had an outbreak of staph in athletics then we would send a team out there and do athletic facilities and their equipment …,” Haynes said.

GermBlast disinfected ECISD facilities for about a week and a half in July.

“We use a multi-step process. We don’t just come in and spray and walk out the door. We come in and we do a multi-step process. … We wipe down all of the high touch-point areas and we come in with electrostatic sprayers and spray a hospital-grade disinfectant; then we come back in and apply a shield with electrostatic sprayers, as well,” Haynes said.

“We’re also using an air purifier in the buildings while we’re doing (the) service, as well …  We’re taking samples while we’re in there so they’ll be able to see pre- and post samples. We’ll also be doing ongoing training with their custodial staff. We’ll do some hand hygiene with elementary students. There’s a lot of different components to our program,” Haynes added.

She said the GermBlast teams disinfected ECISD in record time given the square-footage. ECISD has 4,712,734 square feet, including portable buildings, Chief Operations Officer Patrick Young stated in an email.

Haynes said the company sent 50 to 60 people to Odessa from all of its locations in Lubbock, Dallas, Houston and El Paso.

“Our teams worked until 2:30 and 3 in the morning to get that one done. It was very important to Ector County to have all of their facilities done by today’s date, Aug. 3. That was something they really wanted done so we did it in eight days. We brought in teams from all of our offices to get that done for them,” Haynes said.

The number working varied from day to day.

“I had teams rotating in and out of Ector County, so they were coming from our El Paso office, our Houston office, our Dallas office and Lubbock … It was a joint effort to get this one done in that amount of time, but we were committed to getting it done before teachers returned … They worked until 2:30 some mornings and were back out, using different teams … starting at 8 o’clock in the morning,” Hayes said. 

Workers wear protective equipment such as N95 masks, gloves and goggles when they’re spraying.

Service performed during the summer typically takes longer than other times because desks and chairs are stacked on top of each other and have to be unstacked and computer cords need to be unwound. Haynes said they disinfected the technology, as well.

While Haynes said the treatment kills COVID, she can’t say that it lasts a certain amount of time.

“… There’s not a product out there that gives ongoing protection against COVID-19. We all wish there was, but there just isn’t a product on the market that protects ongoing against COVID-19 at this time,” she said.

GermBlast uses an N List disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The company, which is headquartered in Lubbock, has been in business since 2009. It provides high-level disinfection programs for hospitals, health care facilities and nursing homes. It has also started disinfecting schools and residences.

“… We partner with over 170 school districts, so we know this business very well. We’ve been helping schools stay healthy and keeping students in the building safe and the staff safe, so again, I’d like to stress that we’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s not something that we just started doing. We have epidemiologist and microbiologist on staff. We partner with schools and we provide the resources, so schools can call us when they have a question. When they’re not sure about something, we are the resource and partner for them to pick up the phone and ask the question,” Haynes said.

Right now, the company’s schedule is jam packed because all schools want to be able to open this month. In the past, she said, many of the schools would be served in September after the students return.

“Well now with it being on everyone’s mind, they want parents to feel safe about their kids returning and they wanted it before the kids come back,” Haynes said.

The company was started for the healthcare industry and evolved to provide services to schools, different types of businesses and residences.

About 150 people work for GermBlast.

“At this point, we do services in all the perimeter states. We do quite a bit in New Mexico, so if anyone calls in any of the perimeter states we will definitely go. We have done some in Louisiana and Oklahoma. …,” Haynes said.

When they are in far East Texas, they will go into southern Louisiana, for example.

“We use the El Paso office. They service a lot of our New Mexico clients. It’s all like putting a puzzle together for scheduling for sure,” Haynes said.

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