The board’s coronavirus preparedness strictures lined up with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — social distancing, frequent hand-washing, cough and sneeze into your elbow, please. As the coronavirus figures began spiking, there were new protocols put into place, among them, halting renovations of any sort.
When a doorman recently reported that he wasn’t feeling well, the co-op’s management company went through the building’s video feed to pinpoint and contact the 40 or so residents who had recently interacted with him. Fortunately, his coronavirus test came back negative; contingency plans are being developed in the event that employees become ill or can’t make it to work because of more stringent shelter in place directives.
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There was a rather knotty item on the agenda during one co-op board conference call: whether to make it known if there was a confirmed case of Covid-19 among the shareholders. “We discussed whether we could or should disclose the floor or the particular building,” Mr. Wagner recalled. “We weren’t restricted by the HIPAA rules of confidentiality but a lot of people were saying no,” he said in reference to health care privacy guidelines.
Finally, the board members decided simply to encourage anyone with the virus to let them know about it. They also advised shareholders to act as though they had the virus and to treat their fellow residents as though they were similarly afflicted. “Act as if you have it and your neighbor has it,” Mr. Wagner said.
“Of course, you can’t keep that kind of thing a secret.”
He should know. His wife, Barbara Wagner, a public relations executive, tested positive for Covid 19 in mid-March; she was the first known case in the complex. The couple immediately told two of the six neighbors on their floor, and some other friends elsewhere in the co-op. Word quickly spread.
To help insure that the virus didn’t spread, too, the management company brought in a firm to disinfect the lobby, the elevator, the staff’s break room and locker room among other areas.
The demand for the deep-cleaning procedure is skyrocketing. “Before March 1, we had never done it,” said Jeffrey Gross, the chief operating officer of Maxons, a property damage restoration firm (but not the one used by the Wagners’ co-op) “Since March 1, we’ve done 200, the majority in residential buildings.” Fees start at $5,000.