As the US begins to reopen, our battle with COVID-19 still isn’t over. While new cases are falling or at least plateauing in many areas, questions remain. Will loosening restrictions cause new spikes in cases? Will there be a resurgence in the fall? How can you look to the safety of your crew?
As everyone knows, New York and New Jersey are the two states hit hardest by the virus. As of yesterday, NY has had a total of 362,764 COVID-19 cases with 29,229 deaths, while NJ has seen 155,092 cases with 11,147 deaths, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, which compiles data from a number of sources.
In NJ, Governor Phil Murphy ordered a shut down of all but essential business on March 21, but by the next day, the NJ Nursery & Landscape Association (NJLA) received word from the NJ Secretary of Agriculture that landscaping could continue provided the industry followed social distancing requirements. As a result, many NJ landscapers have been working throughout the worst of the state’s battle against the virus.
As much of the U.S. opens up and risks exponentially increase, what advice do NJ landscapers have for maintaining safety? “We had a virtual round table with our members about what they have been doing and it is a mix,” Gail E. Wolcott, executive director of the NJ Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) told Turf. Here are some of the measures NJLCA members have been enacting, according to Wolcott:
- A professional cleaning service comes in to “bomb” disinfect the office and trucks each night.
- Employees are required to clean their trucks’ interior and door handles several times each day.
- Employees are required to wear masks while in vehicles and when they are close together onsite.
- Some firms are requiring employees to wear masks all day.
- Equipment is assigned to each employee, so only s/he are using the same equipment each day.
- Gloves must be worn when using equipment.
- Hand sanitizer and wipes are kept in trucks at all times.
- Social distancing and/or staggered lunches are practiced.
- Start times are staggered so crews are not all at the shop at the same time in the morning or evening.
- Equipment is cleaned every night before employees leave.
- Employees are educated on the issues surrounding the virus and the importance of following CDC recommendations.
- As it gets warmer, the guys are having a hard time wearing masks, so many have switched to bandanas or the neck wraps that can be pulled up over their faces.