Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 in Your Condo
By: Lindsey Thurswell Lehr & Berenice M. Mottin-Berger
Protecting the residents and management staff of a building should always be a priority for board members and property managers, and their ability to do so has never been tested more than during the novel COVID-19 outbreak. Most management companies have already implemented their business continuity plan to ensure there are no disruptions in their operation. While it’s important for management to be prepared to deal with the possible impact of this pandemic, it is also imperative that board members stay involved and consider having a preparedness plan of their own.
The first step a board of directors should take—and one that is often overlooked—is to designate a person to stay informed on governmental updates by frequenting reliable websites and signing up to receive alerts. Government and health department websites dedicated to providing COVID-19 updates, such as the CDC’s website, are typically the most reliable sources of information.
Next in order is to have a clear communications plan in place. Effective communication allows both residents and management staff to stay informed about coronavirus updates, safety practices, amenity closures and possible infections in the building. Boards should ensure that rosters are updated with the most current contact information for residents and building staff. They should also consider hiring a third-party platform that allows secure communication between owners and management via email, texts or an app, should they not have these capabilities already.
It is also important to understand that everyone has a role in the well-being and safety of a community. Therefore, it is essential to have management work directly with the building’s board of directors while planning and modifying operations in response to COVID-19. Part of the plan should include how they intend to handle a case where a resident or staff member becomes infected. How the message will be delivered to residents and what safety precautions will be implemented to reduce the spread to others should be discussed with the association’s attorney to make sure the association isn’t exposed to any discrimination claims.
Finally, and most importantly, staying on top of supplies and cleaning procedures—and updating them as needed—will likely provide the highest return on resident health. Increasing the cleaning and sanitation of high traffic areas and items that are touched frequently such as door handles and elevator buttons is essential during a health crisis. Shared workspaces such as valet stations and front desks should be cleaned regularly to avoid the spread of germs. A minimum of two months of essential and consumable supplies should be kept on hand, and cleaning supplies should be restocked regularly.
We hope that the recommendations provided above are helpful. As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, we will continue to update our blog with information that we feel will be relevant to the community association industry.