In 2020, the COVID-19 virus shocked everyone and basically stopped the world from spinning. A year after multiple and repetitive lockdowns across the globe, a new variant of the virus, COVID-19 Delta, became, if not new, an additional threat for already or fully vaccinated individuals. Its impact on public health and safety remains significant, which is why homeowners often ask if pest control during Covid remains essential.
According to Skores (2021) of The Oregonian, “Oregon has reported 291,978 confirmed or presumed infections and 3,373 deaths” (para. 10) since the pandemic began in 2020. Although the cases in Oregon are considered the lowest per capita numbers in America, “47 new COVID-19 deaths and 2,352 new cases” in Oregon (Skores, 2021, para. 1) were announced by the Oregon Health Authority yesterday, September 8. Gov. Kate Brown, though pleased with how the numbers are slowing down after the surge during summer, still reminded everybody that “there are still challenging times ahead” and to “remain vigilant,” in a press conference on September 7. As of September 8, there are 1,871 cases in Beaverton, Oregon, according to the Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 data by zip code area.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been reiterating the importance of hygiene in this pandemic. To ensure public safety, many establishments were forced to close, including ones that require pest control. Now that businesses are starting to open again, pest management has never been more crucial.
Why Pest Control during COVID-19 Matters
Aside from being a world health crisis, COVID-19 also affected other global aspects, such as transportation, tourism, and travel, education, business and commerce, labor, employment, among others, dragging even the strongest economies down. Just like everybody else, pest control professionals were not exempted from such effects. This is because pest control was not considered as part of the “essentials” or an essential service during a lockdown. Many were unable to work due to the lockdown, while others became unemployed with pest control companies shutting down one by one.
Globally, government administrations were shortsighted in determining how the lockdown could affect business establishments, including pest control services. This is critical because pest infestation in unchecked, unmonitored, and untreated infected areas, such as business offices, schools, food processing plants, restaurants, hotels, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and hospitals, can also affect residential communities. In Portland, Oregon, although 117 restaurants, for instance, have closed since 2020, the city is currently reopening, and a pest-free environment is vital. However, pest control issues can become more challenging to handle given the combination of incoming foot traffic and reopening business premises after months of closure or vacancy. Here are strong reasons why:
1. Pests can spread pathogens.
Being on lockdown does not mean pests went on lockdown as well. If anything, they reigned freely. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that opportunistic pests can cause severe physical damages to infrastructures. CDC emphasized that some disasters or emergencies cause the increase in populations of insects, rodents, and other vector or nuisance pests, particularly because rubbles and stagnant pools of water become their breeding grounds. These breeding sites can be present in abandoned and unattended buildings due to forced closures because of the pandemic.
Various types of pests can be found in urban communities, and health organizations and healthcare professionals stressed that these pests are common disease carriers. WHO lists over 30 pathogens that can be spread by parasites and rodents. Flies, ants, cockroaches, and fleas can be health hazards due to contamination, negatively affecting hotels and other accommodation businesses, educational buildings, hospitals and healthcare facilities, food processing and manufacturing plants, among other sectors. As WHO and CDC underscored, hygiene is as important as ever, and unnecessary risks caused by infestation in reopening and continuously operational companies can be minimized by effective pest control and integrated pest management (IPM).
2. Pest infestation is costly for business – any business.
Because pest control experts unable to work especially in the early months of the pandemic, infestation problems are also slowly starting to rise. Pests can immensely damage structures and stock, and that means overhead expenses, opportunity costs, and profit losses for the business owner. Not to mention the reputation repair a business owner with pest-infested resources must deal with.
3. Pest professionals, as key workers, changed the way they work in COVID-19.
Almost everything during the pandemic changed. Zoom meeting rooms and Skype chatrooms became the new classrooms, conferences, business meeting rooms, spiritual ad family gatherings, trainings, and job interviews. Livestreaming became more than normal. For those who still had work, work from home became a temporary set-up. Even medical consultations became teleconsultations and online consultations. Similarly, pest control professionals had to adjust and adapt to the changes brought about by the “new normal,” to ensure that they follow safety precautions and various government-set guidelines.
To safeguard employees and customers, pest control experts maintain social distancing and observe hygienic precautions. Considering the kind of work that they do, these professionals have personal protective equipment (PPE) even before the pandemic, but they have been more vigilant yet flexible in meeting health and safety regulations to prevent spreading the virus and causing a second wave. Disinfection is part of their job, and many of them use quality cleaning products. For example, Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control uses organic home pest control products that are family and pet-friendly and environmentally safe.
Pests don’t go on lockdown. Pest control during Covid can help keep your family safe in these trying times.
Like other industries, pest control services have taken initiatives to take their services into the digital world, in an effort to stay safe while working. Data storage and privacy became more critical during the pandemic, so pest control professionals use more effective online communication tools and applications. These they use not only to stay in touch with existing and prospective clients, but also to provide services, keep clients informed, and store and access information safely.
4. Pest control professionals had to re-think client relationships, just like other essential services.
Always keeping employees and clients safe is the most crucial part of a pest control professional’s job. Since these experts still need to visit homes and other areas in need of pest control, they had to reconsider their operational procedures to maintain and cultivate their relationships with clients and other businesses, while putting no one at risk.
Because fewer site visits proved to be an effective deterrent to the spread of the virus, pest control professionals take necessary and make supplemental video calls with customers. This practice minimizes in-person contact while still attending to the need of the client. Digital documentation became the “norm,” which is both a safe and convenient option for the customer.
Additional precautions are observed where interior services are required. For instance, Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control conducts free consultation and pre-screenings through phone calls, video calls, and even emails that help in determining what needs to be assessed and which organic pest control services are necessary. This also ensures that on-site visits will be illness-free, and that both client and pest control professional will follow required social distancing and hygienic guidelines.
5. Pest control professionals conduct even more strict safety assessments during the pandemic.
Strict safety guidelines and regulations are a major part of the pest control world. However, because of the pandemic, these guidelines and regulations have become even more strict. For instance, Beaverton, Oregon’s City’s Disease Prevention Program includes extended regulations on vector control, mosquito prevention, rodent infestation, including Hantavirus warning for the life-threatening disease Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), caused by the Sin Nombre Virus from infected rodents. Schools in Beaverton, Oregon implement strict IPM plans to keep students, faculty, and staff safe from pests and any conditions caused by such pests.
With their familiarity with safety regulations, pest control professionals ensure that safety assessments are done correctly. This aids them in preventing exposure to products and chemicals and reducing the risk of contracting any disease.
Moreover, wearing PPEs is a critical part of preventing COVID-19 infection, pest control companies make certain that their staff are clothed in the appropriate PPE not only for their own protection, but also for others’ safety. In addition, social distancing keeps clients and pest professionals working closely while maintaining safe distance, causing nominal disruption but optimum efficiency.
6. Pest control companies manage risks during on-site visits.
With most businesses becoming online and digital, the pest control industry is no exception. Even before the pandemic, pest control experts call ahead of time prior to the appointment, not only to inform clients of the progress and keep them up to date. With the danger of COVID-19, it is much more imperative that they confirm that there are no changes on the conditions of the client and that they remind the client of the scheduled site visit.
Most pest control companies have already installed or included online booking platforms that are useful if a client wants to get an estimate, book an appointment, and even make payments. Such useful tools ensure specific services are still carried out without the risk of physical contact.
Professionals also practice regular handwashing using soap and water, as well immediate handwashing upon entering and leaving a pest control site. Managing risks also include asking the customers to keep internal doors open, not only to make movement within premises easy, but also to ensure that there is no direct contact with door handles. These professionals also prevent themselves from consuming food and drinks on site.
7. Pest control professionals take off-site precautions.
Aside from social distancing, regular handwashing, and no direct contact, pest control experts still prioritize health and safety off-site.
The Beaverton City Disease Prevention Program has recommendations not only for pre- and during service, but also for post-stages of pest control. Most pest control companies follow a strict disinfection regimen compliant to required COVID-19 guidelines. These include cleaning PPE, pest control equipment, together with all items and/or products used and touched by the pest control staff and clients. Vehicles are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected upon leaving a site to ensure that that the vehicle used will be ready and safe for the next site visit. These professionals also discuss post-pest control precautionary measures with homeowners and business owners.
The impact of the coronavirus, including its new variants, on various industries and businesses, including pest control companies, has been brutally challenging. The implications of the lockdown have been immeasurable and difficult. However, now that numerous cities, states, and countries have embraced the “new normal” and are beginning to reopen their doors to locals and international guests, the pest control industry must continue to cope and adapt as an essential service in COVID-19. This is not only to keep their companies operating and economically viable, but also to make sure that everybody stays healthy, safe, and protected. For the greater good, pest control is imperative in this time of the pandemic.
Professional Pest Control
Ant & Garden Organic Pest Control in Beaverton, Oregon specializes in safe, organic, and eco-friendly pest control solutions for common house pests like rodents, ants, and spiders, among many others. If you’re a business owner with establishments or a homeowner with property forced to close during the pandemic, consider pest control. Don’t hesitate to call the best Beaverton pest exterminator so you can prevent pests from infesting your home and property or putting your health and that of your loved ones at risk. You even get to help to protect the environment!