Mitigating COVID-19 Outbreaks at Multifamily Buildings
The COVID-19 death toll now tops 14,000 nationwide with officials warning that within the next weeks we could experience an even more alarming rate of infections and deaths. As more cases arise across the country, it’s critical that apartment owners, condominium associations, and HOAs continue to take precautionary measures to help stop the spread of the virus.
Tips to Mitigating Covid-19 Outbreaks
Following are extra measures property owners and managers and community association boards should be taking to protect tenants and residents:
Step Up the Cleaning Schedule in Common Areas
Considering how easy the coronavirus can spread, it’s imperative that property managers are vigilant about cleaning common areas. Make sure the building’s lobby, elevators, mailboxes, and stairwells are frequently sanitized and wiped down. Pay special attention to the push-button or phone intercom system that is used to admit delivery persons or others into the building. Do the same for the building’s laundry room, storage area, and any other spaces tenants and residents are likely to utilize. Recent reports suggest that coronavirus can survive on surfaces for up to three days or longer. So, regular sanitizing of a building’s elevators, stairwells, lobby, and other high-traffic areas may be necessary to protect residents and tenants from the virus.
Don’t Allow Residents, Tenants to Congregate in Common Areas
If the building has an outdoor playground, indoor gym, or other nonessential amenities to which residents and tenants have access, be sure these areas are off limits while stay-at-home orders and social distancing are in place.
Make Sanitizer Available to Residents, Tenants
Residents and tenants in apartment buildings and condominiums have no choice but to press elevator buttons or access their mailboxes. Install hand sanitizer pumps or stations in these areas so individuals can easily cleanse their hands before potentially touching their faces and risking infection. COVID-19 is highly contagious and spreads through saliva (spit) and mucus — usually through tiny, often invisible, liquid droplets that come out of the nose and mouth while coughing, sneezing, or exhaling.
Request Tenants and Residents Limit Visitors
Though the association board or property owner may not have the right to tell residents and tenants they can’t allow people to come in and out of the building, fewer visitors will lessen the exposure to germs for everyone who lives there. Recommend tenants and residents limit the number of guests they let into the building.
Notify Residents & Tenants of Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in the Community
Send a notice to residents and tenants asking them to anonymously report any coronavirus cases in the community, and share the news with the others in the building requesting they take special precaution.
Help Residents & Tenants Protect Themselves
Provide the community with information on how to protect themselves against the virus and measures they can take to prevent it from spreading. The CDC makes this guide available.
Have a Plan in Place for Essential Services
Be sure a plan is in place with essential vendors, managers, and employees to minimize or mitigate a potential disruption in essential services. Such services may include garbage removal services, maintenance services (elevator, boiler, etc.), and management services.
Minimize Transmission of COVID-19 by Employees
Identify and plan for how the association or building will prevent or minimize the potential for transmission of COVID-19 by or through any of its own employees, which may include the need for use of masks, gloves, sanitizers, and other precautionary measures.
Check In on High-Risk, Vulnerable Individuals
Consider organizing volunteers from the community to regularly check on those who are isolated or at high risk, including the elderly. Check-ins can be performed by email or telephone to avoid in-person contact. Verify the person is symptom free, has sufficient food and water, has sufficient regular medications, and has sufficient personal items to care for themselves.
Evaluate the Potential Impact on Home Deliveries
With increasingly more individuals using home delivery services for food and other items, evaluate the need for additional security and storage of such items as well as establishing staging or delivery areas to minimize exposure to residents and tenants.
Additional COVID-19 Resources You Can Share with Your Insureds
Following are several resources you can share with your clients to help navigate the COVID-19 crisis:
- Coronavirus and Your Employee
- Property Owners’ Legal Responsibilities During the Coronavirus – 3/27/20
- How COVID-19 Spreads
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
Be sure that insureds follow the recommendation of federal, state, and local health organizations as they relate to control or mitigation of the pandemic.
Sources: American Apartment Owners Association, Homeowners Protection Bureau, Morris Sperry