As a society, we give the moniker of ‘Frontline Heroes’ to a number of different professions. Healthcare workers, police and firefighters, armed forces soldiers, and teachers are quick to pop into the mind when talking about heroes.

As public attention during the pandemic largely focuses on these professions, another group of dedicated workers quietly toiled away to keep the public safe from COVID-19 infection. The profession that had traditionally been marginalized is the faithful janitor or custodian who comes in every night to clean the school, office, or manufacturing plant. During the Coronavirus pandemic, professional cleaning companies and their workers were deemed “essential” and were on the front lines cleaning and disinfecting to help keep all of us safe and healthy.

The cleaning service crews who ventured into buildings to disinfect following a positive outbreak wear similar head-to-toe protective gear as health care workers: full bodysuit, mask, goggles, and gloves. They go in when everyone else has been sent home until the area is remediated. They were truly on the front lines during the initial first months of the pandemic, and continue to be a vital part of keeping a working environment open as we move forward.

Working largely at night when buildings are empty, these cleaners are essentially soldiers in the fight against COVID-19 and unfortunately go largely unnoticed, yet their efforts play an important role in slowing the infection rate of the coronavirus. “The COVID-19 crisis has really brought to light the importance of clean workplaces, and the vital work performed by frontline heroes like cleaning service employees to keep these spaces safe and sanitary,” said Amy Gottheardt-Muench, owner of Eagle Enterprises, a Wauwatosa-based professional cleaning service. “After a positive coronavirus test, one of the first calls an employer typically makes is to a cleaning company to disinfect the entire work area.”

Eagle Enterprises experienced a significant rise in urgent calls for disinfecting services. In addition, many regular customers are cleaning more frequently and adding disinfecting to the regular cleaning schedule. The commercial cleaning company services more than 100 locations at least once a week, covering offices, schools, churches, and industrial operations. “We’ve taken this opportunity to remind our team how valuable they are to public health,” Gottheardt-Muench said. “Commercial cleaning is a vital industry. We hope that the world recognizes the importance of these front-line workers, and appreciates the risks they take every day – especially in times like we’re now experiencing.”

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