The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way we live our lives in so many ways. In the early days, it was not entirely clear who was most at risk, how it was transmitted, and just how bad it would become.
But as time went on, and at the urging of medical professionals, we managed to change our behaviors. We secluded ourselves, began to take hand-washing seriously, agreed to wear masks and became acutely aware of how close we allowed ourselves to get to one another. And if we felt sick, we stayed home—no more working it off. Businesses and schools were closed. Concerts, tradeshows and sporting events were cancelled. Remote work became the norm.
For every piece of bad news, we received glimmers of hope. New Covid-19 tests were developed and announced on an almost daily basis. Therapeutic drugs were quickly produced to improve outcomes of those who did become sick and drug companies accelerated the development of vaccines.
All of this left us wondering, how will this end? Will a vaccine work? Will people trust it enough to take it? Should schools open? Can we ever agree how best to move forward as a society when opinions are so divided?
There is no single solution and there are no simple answers. What’s clear is that the path forward will require an all-hands-on-deck approach, not unlike how food processors prevent contamination of their food products. The food industry uses the term “hurdle technology” which was defined by Lothar Leistner in 2000 as “an intelligent combination of hurdles which secures the microbial safety and stability, as well as the organoleptic and nutritional quality and the economic viability of food products.” In other words, a combination of processes to prevent contamination.
For us all to feel safe enough to return to something close to normal, we will need to apply a hurdle approach to the challenges we now face. And everyone will need to do their part.
We all know what to do. Wash our hands. Wear a mask. Socially distance. If you feel sick, stay home. As the scale of the pandemic recedes and life returns to something closer to normal, the next three hurdles will become even more important.
Institutions of all kinds, including schools, arenas, hospitals, theaters, museums, businesses and government buildings must do everything within their power to assure that their facilities are safe for workers, customers and the general public. Effective cleaning protocols, including the use of Pulsed Light for surface disinfection, is extremely important now and will continue to be in the future.
State and local governments must execute reasonable and effective strategies to prevent the spread. As more data is made available, it becomes more clear which actions help to prevent the spread, and which actions do not. And the same cleaning protocols required of institutions must be incorporated into the cleaning of public transportation systems and interior public spaces.
Effective vaccines, therapeutics, and treatment protocols, along with accurate and readily-available tests will continue to be essential to minimize the scope and severity of the virus. The disciplined use of personal protective equipment for healthcare and elder care workers will help to assure that the virus remains in check.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, XENON has seen explosive interest in Pulsed Light technology for nearly every imaginable disinfection application. As we consider the hurdle concept described above, it’s worth remembering that Pulsed Light can make nearly every interior environment safer, with minimal effort, and minimal intrusion into our daily activities. It’s chemical-free so does not harm the object being treated, and leaves no residuals after treatment. Pulsed Light could be a key factor in our world returning to normal sometime soon.