Gas station owner talks pump sanitation

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — There are some obvious things to avoid to limit the spread of coronavirus — stay at home if you’re sick and keep your distance if you’re out.

But what about the simple task of filling up at the pump?

Former NFL tight end and coronavirus survivor Mark Campbell told President Trump this week that he believes he picked up the virus by filling up the car during a trip up north with his family.

“The only thing I can think of that I did out of the ordinary — because none of them, thank God, ever had symptoms, still don’t have symptoms, I quarantined for them — is I touched a gasoline pump handle,” Campbell told the President.

Campbell’s story touches on the concerns Gov. Whitmer talks about in defending some of the stay-at-home executive order restrictions.

“That’s the visual I evoke all of the time,” the governor said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “Because our nurses, our doctors and our grocery clerks have to gas up when they go to work.”

Craig Hoppen, president and CEO of J & H Oil isn’t convinced.

“While it’s certainly possible, it would be difficult to say exactly where you got it or who you got it from,” Hoppen said.

But the company isn’t taking any chances either.

Every half hour, employees at the more than 50 J & H stores head to the pumps with a bottle of hospital grade germicide.

“We spray that directly on the nozzle, take a paper towel and wipe it off. Then we spray a new paper towel and wipe down all of the touch points on the pump.” Hoppen said.

J & H had placed gloves by the pumps, but those began to disappear too quickly to keep up the supply.

Now, paper towels add another layer of protection between a customer’s hand and the pump handle.

“The paper towels, while we are going through them faster than ever, we have an ample supply, so there’s no excuse to not have them out on the islands now,” Hoppen said.

Store managers check security cameras to make sure the cleaning is being done.

“You probably will still see some dirt and grime on the pump because we’re not as concerned with that as we are the touch points,” said Hoppen, who also recommends the Mobile Speedpay app, which allows customers to pay without touching the pump key pad.

“Those who are trying to do a good job are going to do everything they can to protect our customer base and our employees. And I’m sure my competition, by and large, is trying to do the same thing.” said Hoppen, who also has a message for the governor.

“She has said a couple of times that she’s afraid of people going to locations like mine and contracting the virus,” Hoppen said.

“And I just want to assure both the public and Governor Whitmer that we’re doing everything we can to be responsible and clean and safe as well.”