The following is a reproduction of a memo distributed to all residents on 12 March 2020 (PDF of original memo).
To: All Residents – Blue Woods Management Group Inc. properties
Date: 12 March 2020
Re: COVID-19 – update
Please be assured that Blue Woods Management is continuing to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation. Our agents are all receiving text alerts from the City and we are actively monitoring the CDC website and the NYC and State DOHMH websites.
We encourage all residents to visit these websites as well as they are the official channels that Blue Woods is relying on for information.
Blue Woods has already instructed staff to wipe down and disinfect common elements daily such as entry doors and handles, elevators call stations and buttons, laundry machines, etc.p Blue Woods is also providing all our resident managers and superintendents in all counties with the official cleaning and disinfection guidelines as provided by the NYC DOHMH. All staff members have been asked to follow these guidelines to the best of their ability. The link to these methods can be found below.
One major point contained within these guidelines are what staff is supposed to do when entering a resident’s apartment:
If the superintendent or a member of the building staff must enter your apartment for repairs or other reasons, they have been instructed (as per DOHMH guidelines) to ask the following questions:
- Has anyone (including household staff) in the home had fever, cough and/or shortness of breath?
- In the 14-days before the visit, has anyone in the home traveled outside the United States or recently had contact with a person suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19?
- IF YES TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL, and the place of travel is on the CDC’s affected geographic areas of widespread/sustained community transmission: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
If you say yes to both questions and the visit can be postponed, the staff will politely ask to re-schedule in 14 days or when the occupant or the household members are feeling better.
If you say yes to both questions and the visit cannot be postponed, the staff has been instructed to politely ask that the sick individual(s) do the following:
- Where possible, remain in a separate room with the door closed.
- If a separate room is not available, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from the staff person at all times until they have left the home, AND wear a facemask, if available.
We are doing our best to secure as many hand sanitizing stations/dispensers as possible, along with adequate refills. While the demand is high for such products, our suppliers are doing their best to have deliveries made as soon as possible. Once delivered, your staff will determine where to place them (main entrances, service entrance, lobby, first floor elevators, amenities areas).
Building precautionary measures:
Should the situation become worse in NYC where daily life is affected, Blue Woods will be providing additional guidance to our residents. In the meantime, it is suggested that residents follow the suggested advice:
- Ensure that you have keys/fobs to the front entrance of your building.
- If you do not have either of these, please see your resident manager/superintendent to secure one/both.
- Order necessary supplies as you deem appropriate.
Potential reduction in staff/services:
If staff are unable to work due to health or other factors, Blue Woods will communicate with our residents. However, please be prepared for the following:
- Closure of amenity spaces
- Possible restriction of deliveries or amended protocols on how deliveries are made
- Renovations and building projects will be suspended
- Seeking volunteers to assist with certain building operations
- Reduction of non-essential visitors
Blue Woods preparations:
Blue Woods employees will be following guidance from local and state authorities. We will remain open until advised otherwise. In the event our employees need to work from home, we do have systems in place where all our employees are able to access the tools required to perform most of their day to day functions. If an employee does become ill and is unable to work, they will advise Blue Woods and we will communicate that information to the appropriate parties.
What will Blue Woods do in the event someone suspects they have COVID-19:
Directly from a leading New York Real Estate Law Firm (SSRGA):
Any board or owner that has reason to believe that a tenant or resident may have contracted the virus or been exposed to it should seek information on the health status directly from that tenant or resident. If a board or owner learns that a building occupant is confirmed to have coronavirus, a series of further procedures should be implemented:
- Privately confirm with the infected individual that he or she has alerted appropriate health authorities, such as agencies of the City of New York and State of New York and the CDC, obtain confirmation of the same and confirm that they will not leave their apartment for the amount of time specified by the relevant authorities.
- Communicate privately with the tenant or resident to determine how that person intends to manage the illness. Will they self-quarantine? Do they anticipate visitors or medical support personnel who would have exposure to the illness and travel through common areas of the building? Do they intend to leave their apartment before two weeks has elapsed? While boards do not have the ability to direct the behavior of a resident, it is very important to know the person’s intentions to effectively and accurately communicate with others in the building.
- While there has been some controversy over disclosure, we believe that a board has a fiduciary duty to alert building occupants if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus – not just possible exposure, which could include all residents of the building — in the building and explain the measures that are being taken to prevent its spread (e.g., the person is following all governmental protocols for quarantine). Privacy considerations are paramount and naming the infected individual, or providing information on that person’s location, should be avoided. The alert should specify that the person is self-quarantining, or that he or she is under governmental order to not to leave the apartment for two weeks for any reason, including even for ministerial tasks such as taking trash to the compactor chute.
- The inevitable question from fellow residents which will follow is: “Who is the infected person?” It is our recommendation that, due to a resident’s right to privacy and in order to promote full disclosure without any fear that that person might be publicly ridiculed or shamed, a board or owner should not disclose the infected person’s name so long as the infected individual is following proper government promulgated protocol. If the infected person is not following protocol, then appropriate authorities, like DOH, should immediately be contacted. Refusal to identify the infected person may cause some dissension among other residents, but so long as the person remains quarantined we understand there is no risk of contaminating others from one apartment to another and there is no known instance of the spread of COVID-19 or coronaviruses from person-to-person over long distances, such as through HVAC systems. See attached NYC Department of Health Coronavirus Disease General Disinfection Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings, dated March 5, 2020 (the “NYC Guidance Memo”).
- Proper procedures should also be shared with all building staff. Building employees should be instructed to inform property managers if they suspect they are ill, or if they have a confirmed illness. In the event of a confirmed employee infection with coronavirus, other employees and tenants should be alerted that they may have been exposed to the virus, but the identity of the employee should not be shared. Buildings should anticipate that building staff my call in sick and be out or work for as long as two weeks. See also the NYC Guidance Memo concerning staff entry into residents’ apartments.
- Finally, boards and owners should not present themselves as medical authorities or provide specific guidance on the illness to residents. However, boards and owners may direct residents to prevention information recommendations from authoritative sources such as the CDC and/or the DOH.
All New Yorkers should continue to practice general flu prevention measures including:
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Get your flu shot – it’s never too late.
- Know the symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick. Call your doctor and let them know your symptoms and travel history.
- Avoid nonessential travel to affected areas.
We hope that this situation does not escalate further, and we hope all remain healthy and safe.