Obviously, there’s a lot of concern around the Coronavirus outbreak right now. There are also a lot of float centers who are worrying about how this will affect their floaters.
Here’s the critical information and tips for float centers to keep in mind during the Coronavirus outbreak:
- Coronavirus is not water-borne. Standard filtration and disinfection in your float solution should be sufficient.
- Coronavirus does not seem to be air-borne. It is spread by droplets through the air, for example when someone sneezes, but so far it does not look like it can last long amount of time in the air or be spread over long distances.
- The walls of your tanks, inside and out, are where the virus is more likely to be spread. Increase disinfection of the interior and exterior of the tank, especially where customers are likely to touch.
Hard Surface Disinfection
- (Re)Familiarize yourself with hard surface disinfection and kill times.
- Use EPA recommended and registered disinfectants on all hard surfaces.
- Stress to your staff the importance of properly disinfecting all items and surfaces that floaters are likely to touch, both in the rooms and out.
- Frequently disinfect chairs, doorknobs, check-in counters, and all solid surfaces where someone might place their hand.
- Consider storing objects that floaters typically touch that aren’t easy to disinfect (float journals, books, toys, etc.).
Staff and Customers
- Brief your staff on what we know, and make sure they feel comfortable answering any customer questions.
- Make sure your staff is washing their hands diligently and not touching their faces.
- Have everyone maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others.
- Make sure staff take sick leave and stay home if they think they’re feeling ill.
- Let customers know that they won’t be charged for canceling floats, even last minute, if they’re not feeling well.
- Put a page on your website informing your customers of your increased cleaning and health policies, and link to it from your scheduling page and emails.
We aren’t microbiologists, and we wanted to get the best possible information on what float centers should do in order to keep our customers safe from coronavirus, so we reached out to Dr. Roy Vore for comment.
If you’re not familiar with him, Dr. Vore is a microbiologist and expert on water sanitation; he’s one of the leading experts on outbreaks in shared water facilities (pools, hot tubs, etc), and fortunately for our industry, he’s taken a particular interest in float tanks.
Dr. Vore has been discussing this issue with pools and spas, so making a statement for float centers wasn’t too far out of his way.
The first thing we learned from talking to Dr. Vore was that the actual name for this virus is SARS-CoV-2. It’s similar to the flu both in how it spreads and what it’s susceptible to. This is what he had to say (see if you can avoid hearing it in his voice):
“This is an enveloped virus. The concentration of salt used will provide a reasonable inactivation, but is not likely to be complete. But this virus is both spread by contact and inhalation of airborne droplets; it is not water-borne. As such, the water is not the medium of transmission.”
It’s been known for years that high concentrations of magnesium sulfate in a water solution can actually stop some viruses and bacteria from spreading that would otherwise thrive in water. As we know, this isn’t sufficient disinfectant for all pathogens, but it does impact our risk factors. Dr. Vore actually did a big talk about this at the 2018 Float Conference.
The nature of our business also means we just don’t have large groups of people interacting with each other. This doesn’t mean we’re off the hook, though.
This virus has a long incubation period, which means that it can last longer on surfaces. So the real danger of this epidemic for a float center is all the stuff that your customers interact with. As Dr. Vore puts it:
“All float centers should focus on disinfection of hard surfaces including chairs, doorknobs, check-in counters, and all solid surfaces where someone might place their hand.”
In addition to his statements, Dr. Vore has released a document outlining the impact of the virus on float tanks that’s been adapted from a similar document he released for pools and spas. We’re including that here for all of you so you have a document directly from a microbiologist about this disease.
Art of the Float recently released an interview with Jason MacDonald, a health regulator in Alberta, Canada, and he went into further specific recommendations about what to do while our country handles this health crisis.
It’s important to remember that a pandemic is temporary and many places affected earlier in the cycle are already recovering. Hopefully, the fact that we’re not a high-risk industry can be something float centers can take some comfort in and emphasize to the public.
Be patient, be mindful, and adjust your plans to the environment as new information comes out and the situation develops. And don’t forget to take some tank time for yourself to float away some stress.
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