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The Cleaning Coalition of America was recently launched to represent the needs of an overlooked sector that's playing a vital role in keeping essential services running during the coronavirus crisis, according to a press release.

Coalition member companies clean, disinfect and sanitize hospitals, health systems and research labs, airports and airplanes, public transit systems, warehouses and other spaces that are the lifelines of the American economy. When the country goes back to business, cleaning companies will be on the front lines to ensure commercial office buildings, K-12 schools, universities, museums, stadiums, shopping centers and other commercial and public spaces in all 50 states are ready for a return to normal.

"The coronavirus crisis has us all rethinking who is essential, and it's the crews of cleaners working behind the scenes fighting this virus that will allow us to maintain critical operations and business services during this difficult time," says Josh Feinberg, president of the coalition and chief strategy and transformation office for ABM Industries, one of seven coalition members. "If these places aren't cleaned and disinfected, other essential workers will be unable to do their jobs. Cleaners are among today's unsung heroes. Our workers will get America back to work."

The contract cleaning service industry employs more than 1 million workers in cities, suburbs and small towns across the country. They work behind the scenes and off-hours, so they often remain unseen and overlooked by the public – and by policymakers.

"As elected officials look to provide relief for individuals and companies hardest hit by coronavirus, unfortunately, the commercial cleaning industry remains unrecognized. People rely on cleaners to clean and disinfect, but take for granted this critical asset in the fight against COVID-19. We need support to get through this crisis and economic shutdown so that we can be ready on day one to help America get back to business," says W. Carl Drew, treasurer of the coalition and chief financial officer and chief operating officer at Harvard Maintenance, another coalition member.

The Coalition is asking Congress and the Trump Administration to support targeted measures that will help ensure the continuity of business operations and the employment of commercial cleaners. These measures include:

- Ensuring that professional cleaners have priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE), including disinfectants, gloves, masks, hand sanitizers and other materials needed to combat the spread of coronavirus.

- Providing additional funds in the form of grants or tax credits to keep professional cleaners on the payroll so that cleaning companies can get public places cleaned and ready for everyday use before the economy reopens.

- Providing well-defined regulatory guidance and clear oversight around liability for companies and organizations involved in the front-line fight against coronavirus.

- Expanding healthcare coverage for workers to ensure they have access to healthcare and protection from COVID-related illness at no cost to them.

"We are looking to preserve jobs and maintain access to much-needed personal protective equipment for our workers, so that they can continue to do their jobs which are an essential part of getting the American economy moving again," says J. Paul Saccone, chief executive officer of Able Services, also a member of the coalition board.