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EPA gives cleaning tips for schools, workplaces

The EPA guidance shouldn't replace other measures to prevent COVID-19 spread like social distancing, wearing cloth face coverings and washing hands frequently.

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities are giving cleaning and disinfecting tips for schools and workplaces to help deal with the coronavirus.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the cleaning guidelines Wednesday.

The guidelines urge Americans to draw up plans to clean areas with soap and water and disinfectant. Recommendations include ensuring custodians have proper protective gear.

“Proper and effective cleaning and disinfecting are important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “As our nation re-opens, this guidance is critical to help Americans return as safely as possible to work, school, and other daily activities within their communities.”

However, the EPA said to avoid over-using or stockpiling disinfectants or personal protective equipment like gloves and masks. It can cause a shortage of products needed during emergencies.

The new guidance should not replace other measures that still need to be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The EPA said it's still important to continue to practice social distancing, wear cloth face coverings and washing your hands frequently.

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Cleaning workplaces and schools will be part of reopening after weeks and months of lockdown from the outbreak. The shutdown has thrown tens of millions of Americans out of work and sent the U.S. economy plunging.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the cleaning guidelines will “help the country reopen as safely as possible.”

The Trump administration has vacillated between prodding states to reopen businesses and schools to get the economy going and urging caution to try to limit the spread.

RELATED: US economy shrank at 4.8% rate last quarter as coronavirus struck

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