To reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus, many of us have become obsessed with washing our hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. And while the pursuit of these ultra-sanitary conditions is leading to steady work for several professional cleaning companies, it can place workers in a potentially dangerous situation.
Professional cleaners with All Bright Services wore masks and gloves Wednesday as they scrubbed Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street in the West Village to make sure there was no trace of the coronavirus.
"It's a little risky, and yes, I do have minor concerns, but I make sure I protect myself, always use the right chemicals," said worker Jamek Willis.
Willis worked with his team on a cleanup job that lasted more than seven hours.
"We get all the corners, top, bottom, inside out, cabinets, doors, handles," he said. "Anything you need, we wipe down. Sanitize!"
So far, Willis says all of the assignments that his cleaning crews has received during the pandemic have been precautionary. Yet he is fully aware that he could one day have to sanitize a workspace where coronavirus was lurking.
"I guess there’s fear in everything, but it’s a job," he said. "We come in with faith, with protection, and we gotta do the job. But when we cross that threshold, we'll see."
The cleaning crew at Murray's Cheese says during the coronavirus pandemic, work has been steady but not booming. Still, they are grateful to have a job and steady work. That's an enviable position that some cleaning companies wish they could provide for their employees.
"I can't bill clients into April because we won't be cleaning them in April," said Claudette Robb Ross, the owner of NYC's Best Commercial Cleaning Service, Inc., which is based in Manhattan. "I bill them at the beginning of the month.”
As a result of Governor Andrew Cuomo's mandate last week that all non-essential workers stay at home, Robb Ross says none of her clients need their offices cleaned. And in just a few days, she fears she will need to lay off all five of her employees.
"The end of this month ends it for everyone," she says, "and they will get in line for unemployment like a few million others."