Environmental Health & Safety COVID-19 FAQs

The following list of FAQs has been compiled by Virginia Tech Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). For additional information and FAQs, please visit the university's COVID-19 site.

While EHS does not provide respirators or personal protective equipment (PPE), EHS is working directly with impacted departments to ensure staff are adequately protected.

Please click here for guidelines around the voluntary use of respirators.

If you or a team member require a respirator as part of your job and have not been previously cleared by EHS to wear one, please contact EHS at ehsmedserv@vt.edu

For more information around ordering PPE for your unit or department, please refer to
FAQ for the Acquisition of PPE from the University's Centralized Critical Supply Inventory.

Please click here for guidelines from EHS around PPE use, including facemask and respirator use.

Although EHS does not provide nor stock hand sanitizer, in place of hand sanitizer, wash your hands at a sink with soap and warm water or at a handwashing sink in the lab for at least 20 seconds, whenever possible. Hand sanitizer should only be used in places where there is no sink available. Refer to https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html for additional information.

There are recipes online for homemade hand sanitizers, but soap and water remains the most effective means for removing germs. Hand sanitizer may be used as a temporary means, but proper handwashing must follow the use of a hand sanitizer, if at all possible. The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided guidance on homemade sanitizer at https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf.

Please refer to the CDC video on proper handwashing techniques. Also, remember to use paper towels to shut off the faucet when finished washing your hands to avoid recontamination. Please consider printing the CDC poster, Stop the Spread of Germs, and hang them in applicable locations.

You should disinfect equipment before and after use with a CDC-recommended disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2. These include products that include 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, at least 70 percent alcohol or 1-5 percent bleach diluted in water. See the EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19 as well as the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC) list of products that have been pre-approved by the EPA for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogen. Contact EHS if you have any questions regarding the appropriate disinfectants.

Please speak with your supervisor about purchasing the appropriate disinfectants listed above. 

Please refer to the CDC COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment guidelines to see recommendations for using a facemask.

Please refer to the Virginia Tech COVID-19 Employee FAQs for more information.

Biosafety cabinets are required to be certified on an annual basis. As of March 24, 2020, certification vendors are still providing services following all CDC recommendations. If you wish to delay certification, please reschedule your certification date with the vendor. As long as the unit is still functioning appropriately and there are no immediate operational concerns, you may wait to have the unit certified.

Per Governor Northam’s mandate, group gatherings are limited to 10 people or less.  Please refer to the Virginia Tech COVID-19 Employee FAQs as well as the CDC Don’t Spread Germs at Work handout. Please consider using alternative methods such as teleconference, zoom, and email for departmental or group meetings.

A COVID-19 awareness online training is available as of March 27, 2020 on the department’s website at https://www.ehss.vt.edu/train.php.

Please refer to the Virginia Tech COVID-19 site for updates.

Please refer to the helpful information on the Virginia Tech COVID-19 site around how to help flatten the curve. 

Please refer to the Virginia Tech COVID-19 site for the latest university updates.

Please refer to these helpful COVID-19 health-related resources for university employees and students.

Please contact EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 so your inquiry may be directed to the appropriate staff member for a response.

Please contact EHS at VT-EHS@vt.edu or 540-231-3600 so your inquiry may be directed to the appropriate staff member for response.

Call ahead before you seek medical care at Schiffert Health Center (540-231-6444), Lewis Gale Hospital Montgomery-Emergency Department (540-951-1111), or your health care provider office if you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, including fever. Tell the receptionist or your provider about your recent travel and symptoms.

For more information, call the New River Health District’s COVID-19 public health call center at 540-267-8240. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon; and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. After hours, leave a message. For the most accurate and up-to-date information online, visit

When possible, in-person EHS training classes will either be hosted on Zoom or postponed. Registrants will hear from EHS. Registrants may contact cuporter@vt.edu with any training questions.

Click here for resources.