5 Ways to Protect Your Community from Coronavirus (And Colds and Flu)

Worried about Coronavirus? Chances are slim that you'll get it. Still, it never hurts to be prepared, especially in an apartment building common area, where people are constantly coming in and out. Here are some tips to keep everyone healthy.

When I got on the bus this morning, there was an empty seat next to a woman wearing one of those face masks that seem to be popping on all over the place.

I chose another seat.

And, actually, so did everyone else.

This was a commuter bus—during rush hour—to New York City. Seats are a hot commodity. But, instead of sitting next to face mask lady, someone chose to sit all the way in the back of the bus in that weird middle bench seat that squishes you in between two people.

And, at least for me, the thought was, does she have Coronavirus? 

(P.S.: As the driver closed the doors and pulled out of the stop, face mask lady took off her mask and enjoyed spreading out for the rest of the commute. So, she probably didn’t have Coronavirus. Hopefully. But I’m taking notes—sitting with strangers on the bus is the worst.)

Coronavirus, of course, is on a lot of people’s minds. According to CNN, there are currently at least 1,770 deaths from the virus, most of which in China, where it originated. Despite that number, and despite the fact that there are at least 15 cases in the US, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get it.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Still, it never hurts to be cautious. After all, as a property manager you and your staff deal with residents, and the last thing anyone wants is to get sick, even if it’s just with the flu, which, honestly, is more likely.

So here are some Coronavirus precautions for apartment communities (and also to help stop the spread of germs and other illnesses). 

    1. Have hand sanitizer. Everywhere. According to the CDC, hand washing is a great way to help prevent the Coronavirus and other illnesses. But you can’t force people to wash their hands. Trust me, I have kids, and I have a hard enough time getting them to do it. And it’s not like you can pick up your residents and hold them over the sink while they’re trying to wriggle away. Or maybe you can? But if you put hand sanitizer in your common spaces and front desk, people will be encouraged to use it.
    2. Frequently clean surfaces. Keep some disinfectant at the front desk, and wipe down surfaces people are touching throughout the day, such as mailboxes, concierge desks, gym equipment, etc. Just, please, try to do it when no residents are there. It’s very insulting to see someone spray an area you’ve just touched, like you’re some germy slug monster leaving a trail of ooze everywhere.   
    3. Make sure all your garbage cans have lids and are kept closed. You don’t want used tissues falling on the ground that people have to pick up. (Insert ‘vomit face emoji’ here.) Besides, if there are lids your common spaces will look a lot neater.
    4. Encourage employees to stay home if they’re sick. Coronavirus symptoms are similar to those of the flu. Which you don’t want to get either (or for it to be spread around to residents). So if someone is feeling sick, encourage them to stay at home. Look, I know no one wants to waste their time off actually “being sick” when those days can be used for lying on the beach with a margarita. And sometimes people are afraid to take time off or have good intentions and want to make sure their work is getting done. Some people are just bad at taking time off. In fact, in 2017, 14 percent of workers ages 18-30 took no time off, according to Statista.com. But, if people have the sick days, they should be encouraged to take them, especially if they’re sick. The work will get done. They’ll feel better, and they will be less likely to infect others. Plus no one wants to interact with someone who’s coughing up a lung or sneezing every five minutes. Gross. Wait. I’m sympathetic. Feel better! But, yeah, gross.
    5. Don’t bother with face masks. According to WHO, you only need a mask if you’re taking care of someone with the virus, especially since the chance of getting Coronavirus in the US is so low. If you do want them, be warned: Retailers are either sold out or are jacking up prices. Those surgical masks are apparently not that effective at blocking out airborn viruses anyway. What they might do, however, is get you a seat to yourself on the bus. So, maybe they’re worth a shot, after all!

Do you have concerns about Coronavirus or the flu spreading at your community? What are some other suggestions to keep apartments germ free? Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur