How to Keep Your Residents from Panicking About Coronavirus

Yes, the coronavirus is spreading. But now's not the time to freak out. Here's how to keep your residents calm during the global pandemic.

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the coronavirus and ways to prevent it from being spread at an apartment communities. But I was convinced that there wasn’t really anything to worry about. After all, at the time, there were only a few cases of the virus in the U.S. 

So young. So naive.

At the time of writing this, there are 137 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. There is even a reported case of someone having it at the building where I work (which I’m not going to link to, both to protect the identity of the person, and to slow my parents’ ability to read about it). 

It’s totally cool. I’m not panicking. I just decided to work from home today for unrelated reasons. It’s totally normal. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Yes, it’s scary to hear about all the new cases. News of people stockpiling toilet paper, hand sanitizer and bottled water doesn’t really help. But the CDC is still saying “most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus.” Freaking out rarely helps, and it often makes a situation worse.

So how do you keep your residents and staff calm during a global pandemic? Here are some tips.

    1. Stay informed. Read information about coronavirus from reputable sources such as the CDC or WHO. News sources are usually good, but be careful where you’re getting the information from. For example, news shared on Facebook might not be reliable all the time (like the time it said that I was the Carrie of my friends group, when I’m obviously the Miranda).
    2. Encourage practices that will curb the spread of coronavirus. For example, you could put up signs in your common-area restrooms recommending that people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. I mean, I guess you could also sit in the bathroom and give judgmental looks at people until they wash their hands, but a sign is probably more efficient.
    3. Communicate with your residents. Send emails to your renters with any pertinent information you hear about. You could also put up flyers in the community common areas such as the lobby or gym with this information. If there is news that directly affects your community, do both (maybe even include social media), so you can be sure everyone has the information they need. It might seem counter intuitive to tell your residents if someone is sick if you want to keep everyone calm, but it’s better to have correct information out. (But, obviously respect residents’ privacy and don’t give out personal information.) If people rely on the rumor mill, you can’t control the message, and it could spin out of control. Just like that time in high school.
    4. Shut down any racism or harassment you see. Unfortunately, when people get scared, sometimes their worst instincts come out, and the news of the spread of coronavirus is no exception. There have been reports of an uptick in racism towards Asian people recently because the virus started in China. But people deserve to feel safe and respected in their homes. And as the property manager, it’s your job to enforce that. 

What are some other ways to keep residents calm about coronavirus? How nervous (if at all) are you about the virus at your community? Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur