EL PASO, Texas -- Precautions against Covid-19 inside a retail store should be different than the ones you need to take inside a mortgage company or bank.
That's why a newly formed group is examining and tasked with coming up with specific guidelines for specific businesses.
The guidelines, which are yet to be released, revolve around the specific business. For instance, you likely won’t be sharing utensils inside a restaurant, just like you shouldn’t share a pen inside a mortgage company.
“So a lot of the focus has been on people interaction. But we really cannot forget our environment as businesses reopen.” said said Dr. Kristina Mena with the University of Texas Houston School of Public Health in El Paso.
Dr. Mena is a member of the newly formed Enhanced Regional Public Health partnership.
It includes Borderland private and public agencies, all tasked with making sure businesses that re-open have all the necessary precautions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
We’ve all become familiar with basic Centers for Disease Control guidelines, like wearing face coverings and washing hands frequently. But Mena says Borderland residents also have to be mindful of our surroundings inside a business.
An airborne virus can spread, and where that virus lands becomes crucial to preventing the spread.
“Respiratory viruses are easily transmitted throughout the office settings, and other workplace settings. So, it's important to remember the role of environmental surfaces,” Mena said.
For example, we can unknowingly place our phone on a counter while paying for an item, and Mena says that phone could spread the virus.
“Someone could be an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19, transmit the virus to their cell phone, and then their cell phone is sitting on a counter-top by a common area. That virus now may very well be on the counter-top. And someone else then could subsequently be exposed,” explained Mena.
Guidelines designed for specific businesses have not yet been developed or released. Once they are, the group will work with community partners, like Paso Del Norte and Medical Center of the Americas foundations, as well as others to help spread the word.
Ultimately though, Mena says its up to us - the people patronizing local businesses - to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
“We need to remember that workplace safeguards are implemented, and we don’t want to disrupt that when we patronize that establishment and don’t follow those same guidelines,” said Mena.