While most New Yorkers are trying to stay away from the coronavirus, Jackson Wong gets ready to walk into the contamination. It’s his duty.
“It feels great because we know we are going in there, we are disinfecting," said Wong. "We are doing what’s right for the people and is safe for everybody.”
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Wong is a supervisor at Green Orchard Group, an environmental safety company based in LIC, Queens. “We’re working around the clock,” he added
Since March, the company has been getting more than 200 decontamination requests each week, a tall order for its 45 employees.
“Not a lot of people want to work or be exposed or engage in this sort of activity, go into an area where there might have been an infected person,” said Stephen Bell, an Environmental Specialist with Green Orchard Group.
They’ve been working 14-hour days, from cleaning up a pizza shop in the Bronx, to Thursday's mission: a six-story building on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. NY1 got exclusive access — but safety came first.
After covering up from head to toe with the proper protection equipment, or PPE, it’s time to go in. They wear Tyvek suits that have been approved by OSHA. The material has been proven to protect people from any a chemical or bio hazard. It's why it's used by workers that are combating contamination like COVID-19.
Green Orchard Group uses a fogging machine filled with a CDC- and EPA-approved disinfection chemical, scrubbing all surfaces with an ultra-fine mist. They even spray the air because COVID-19 can remain suspended in it for hours.
“It covers areas that manual wiping and traditional cleaning simply can’t get or are difficult to access," said Bell. "Like crevices, ceilings and walls — places that people might not think to clean.”
While the crew may be in the most protective gear, they are still not immune to the pandemic’s emotional impact, as Bell explained: “It’s sort of reinforced how fragile everything is, and how much I miss social connection. You only miss that and sense that when it’s gone.”