How PMPs handle coronavirus/COVID-19 concerns


March 13, 2020



As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases worldwide climb to 125,000, pest control companies in the United States are putting plans in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 virus is spread through person-to-person contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typically from coughing or sneezing. “The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas,” according to the CDC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, meaning the virus eventually will spread to every country. In the United States, people in 47 states and Washington, D.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 and the number of cases is expected to surge.

To help prevent its spread in the United States, officials are taking action. From Major League Baseball to Broadway, cancellations of events where large groups gather are being announced daily. Schools and universities have closed as students turn to online learning.

How should those in the pest control industry proceed?

The CDC offers guidance to help small businesses and employers limit workplace exposure to COVID-19. The information is based on what is currently known about similar coronaviruses, and will be updated as needed.

CDC recommendations for employers includes encouraging sick workers stay home, offering flexible policies so employees can stay home with sick family members, and instructing employees to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The CDC also advises wiping down work areas that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, desks and countertops.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) advises members to consult the CDC for the most accurate information regarding COVID-19. The NPMA recommends assigning an employee the task of checking the CDC’s website regularly for updates and then sharing the information with fellow employees. The NPMA post also addresses such considerations as time off work for illness and payment during absences.

The NPMA member’s-only page on coronavirus information is now available to the entire industry. Here, users can find up-to-date information, preparedness documents for employers and commonly asked questions.

Pest Management Professional asked readers how they are handling the coronavirus outbreak. Aaron Gleeson, owner of New River Pest Control, Radford, Va., says he is set to provide exterior services only, send work orders and invoices via email, and accept credit card payments online. “Zero human contact necessary,” he adds. “Also, as an industry we already have most of the personal protection equipment (PPE) — gloves, respirator, face shields, coveralls, etc. — and instant soap and water!”

Josh Rzepka, owner of Enviro-Pest Solutions, Waterloo, Iowa, says his company currently is working on protection protocol for its technicians and its clients. “I’m not sure what [COVID-19] is going to do to our industry, but I don’t think there is another group of service professionals that deal with more people,” he says. “The public is scared, and that is going to reflect in all our bottom lines this year. So, to prepare a little is a good thing.”

Jon Schoppe, ACE, is technical director of Dial Environmental, Roseland, N.J. He says protocols already are in place to limit customer contact at his company. “We are focusing on exterior services only, and doing interiors on a case-by-case basis,” he said in a follow-up interview with PMP. “However, when we do need to go inside, we are wearing our standard shoe covers and gloves, plus avoiding handshakes and wearing disposable masks.”

Schoppe says customers are responding positively to Dial’s proactive approach, which includes sending an informative email outlining all of the company’s precautionary measures.

It’s a tactic many companies are taking. For example, Lisa Botts, owner of Peacock Pest Prevention, Cypress, Texas, says she emailed her residential customers stating that, for the time being, technicians will be treating exteriors only unless interior service is specifically requested.

For additional information on how to protect yourself, your employees and your customers during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit

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About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 216-706-3793.

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