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Cape Cleaning Companies Face Off Against COVID-19

Eve Zuckoff
Joseph Rosati, of Ata Cleaning Services, prepares to clean a federal facility in Woods Hole on March 13, 2020.

Amid warnings that COVID-19 can last on surfaces for two to three days, businesses, schools, and organizations are doubling down on commitments to clean common spaces.

Joseph Rosati, who works for ATA Cleaning Services, disinfects a 37,000-square-foot building in Woods Hole, five days a week.

“We’re doing a little more now because of the coronavirus,” he said. “So I have to wipe down more things,” he said.

Rosati is one of nearly 55,000 janitors or building cleaners in the state of Massachusetts, according to numbers from a 2017 census report.

Typically, he takes out the trash, mops the floors, and cleans the bathrooms, but in the last few weeks he’s been paying greater attention to wiping down and disinfecting surfaces like doorknobs and desks at the direction of his boss, Gilberto Viana.

“So this is not something new for us,” Viana said. “What’s new is: now what we were doing before, we’re doing more intensely.”

On the outer Cape, Jessica Georges, the owner of Green Road Refill, said she’s been fielding an increase in demand for her cleaning services, though it has come with some caution.

“With my cleaning business I have a number of elderly and immune-compromised clients, so just to reassure them. I’ve been giving a heads up call to let them know I—and my immediate circle of friends and family—are healthy and I’m not bringing anything ‘in,’” she wrote in an email.

“I have had a couple of clients ask if I could sell them extra product so that they could clean more on [their] own in between my cleanings.”

Already, she said, she’s running out of a locally made, all-natural hand sanitizer that she typically buys by the gallon.

ATA Cleaning Services has also seen an increase in demand from its commercial customers. Some have asked for cleanings in buildings that aren’t typically included.

Rosati said he’s been in the cleaning services industry “forever,” and now, more than ever, feels like the work he’s doing is important.  

“I feel like I’m helping out with the country,” Rosati said. “I feel proud about it.”

They’re armed with enough supplies like bleach, disinfectant, and microfiber cloths, Viana said, to last a month without restocking.

“What we have to do, we are doing with pride and with effort,” Viana said. “Lots of effort.”

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.