The Collegian
Thursday, July 16, 2020

Hand sanitizers spread around campus to prevent flu

The University Facilities staff has spent thousands of dollars on hand sanitizers, which are now in highly frequented areas on campus to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.

"What we had to do was try to identify some public areas where there was a lot of traffic in and out," said John Sheffield, the director of Safety Services and Risk Management.

The Heilman Dining Center and Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness have stocked hand sanitizers in past years, Sheffield said, but because of the outbreak of H1N1, University Facilities workers have been supplying hand sanitizers to the rest of campus.

Al Lane, the manager of environmental services, purchased nine wall-mounted units that each have 20 ounces of Purell hand sanitizer, according to Sheffield's inventory record. Boatwright Memorial Library has three units and the Parsons Music Library, William Taylor Muse Law Library, Tyler Haynes Commons, Jepson Hall, Post Office and Facilities warehouse each have one.

Lane purchased 70 eight-ounce bottles of Purell - half are in Boatwright and half are in Jepson - and 12 free-standing units that each hold 1200 milliliters of sanitizer. Six of the free-standing units are being stored in the Facilities warehouse for future use, but the other six are already being used for large campus gatherings.

Lastly, Lane purchased tubs of Carpe Diem hand wipes to be placed in the 28 computer labs in Boatwright, Jepson, the Commons, the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, Gottwald Science Center, Richmond Hall, Weinstein Hall, Ryland Hall, Puryear Hall and the Modlin Center for the Arts.

There are only 35 tubs spread among the labs now, but Sheffield said the 10 cases Lane had bought included 120 tubs that each have 175 wipes.

"We figured we'd go through them," Sheffield said. "Plus, we were concerned that if we didn't order them now, they were going to get hard to get."

Each wall-mounted sanitizer is $15.35, according to Susie Reid, director of Operations and Maintenance. The liquid for each free-standing sanitizer costs $33, but Reid said the stand costs an additional $32.

Each 8-ounce Purell bottle cost $3.77, Reid said, and each tub of Carpe Diem wipes is $22. To purchase all four types of sanitizer, Facilities has paid about $3,800 since Aug. 30, but Reid said those were start-up costs and the supplies would not run out soon.

The Carpe Diem stock includes 21,000 wipes and 14,875 of them are still in the Facilities warehouse. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that people could get 29-30 uses out of every two ounces of Purell - meaning more than 35,500 uses among the free-standing, wall-mounted and bottled sanitizers.

"We don't know how often we'll have to replenish them, what the usage is going to be," Lane said. "It could last a week or it could last two months depending on how aggressive people are using them."

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Lane said the CDC had recommended using hand sanitizer: after using the bathroom; before eating or drinking; before and after handling raw foods, fish, poultry or eggs; after using a public phone; after riding public transportation; in schools; after shaking hands; after sneezing or coughing; and after touching any commonly used surface.

Lane also said they were looking into buying chloride-based products to supplement what's already on campus. The wipes are hydrogen-peroxide-based and the Purell is alcohol-based, which Lane said was based on the recommendation of the CDC.

Both disinfectants can reduce, though not eliminate, the potential for contamination, and Lane said they were following the CDC's guidelines as closely as possible in their efforts to prevent students from H1N1.

"A lot of this stuff is just new to trying to prevent the spread," he said. "We're learning as we go. I think everybody's in that kind of situation."

Contact staff writer Barrett Neale at barrett.neale@richmond.edu

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