The number of confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases continues to increase. This global pandemic is much more than a health crisis; it is also a human, social, and economic crisis. This disease, which has been officially designated as a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization), has changed life as we know it, and the responsibility falls to each of us to stop its spread.
Many people are already contributing to the coronavirus’s decline by maintaining social distancing and other safety measures. But sometimes, human contact—whether direct or indirect—is simply unavoidable, like in large apartment buildings where tenants touch the same surfaces daily to enter and exit their homes.
In such cases, it is up to both tenants and landlords, and any other parties involved, to do what they can to maintain safe standards. Here are some things that every landlord or property manager can use for sanitizing apartments and keeping shared spaces safe.
How is COVID-19 Spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact, mainly through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person when they cough or sneeze. These droplets can easily land in the mouth or nose of nearby people.
Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for coronavirus, and the only way to protect yourself from the spread of this disease is to avoid being exposed in the first place. To protect yourself and others from spreading the virus, you should:
- Wash your hands frequently: Use soap and water to wash your hands for 20 seconds, especially after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or if you have been in a public place. If water and soap are not available, hand sanitizer will also work. Additionally, you should avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed hands.
- Wear a face mask when in public areas: Face covers are meant to protect others in case you’re infected. When in public places, remember to keep a distance of 6 feet between you and others.
- Avoid close contact: Ensure that you avoid close contact with sick people, even those inside your home.
- Clean and disinfect: It’s important that you frequently clean and disinfect surfaces, especially frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, tables, countertops, phones, desks, handles, toilets, keyboards, and sinks.
Helping Keep Tenants Safe
Landlords and property managers have a responsibility to keep their tenants’ living conditions safe. To limit the spread of the virus and protect residents, maintenance workers, and others frequenting rented buildings, they should take extra precautions.
Maintain the common areas by sanitizing shared locations and surfaces frequently. Areas that should be given constant attention are doors, lobbies, elevators, and stairwells.
Make Hand Sanitizers Available in Commonly Used Areas
A best practice is to sanitize or wash your hands when changing locations, especially for places where other people are touching surfaces; for example, returning to your apartment building from the grocery store.
Although it might not be feasible for every building, when possible, making hand sanitizer available at entrances and encouraging tenants to use it will decrease the risk of transmitting germs from other locations to your apartment building.
In an attempt to protect their skin from contact with germs, some people have begun wearing gloves. While this does protect your own skin, if you wear gloves to the grocery store and then open the door to your own apartment with the same pair of gloves, you’re still cross-contaminating every surface you touch. Because of this, encouraging the use of hand sanitizer is still the safest option for everyone, as, when used correctly and frequently, it will decrease the number of germs being spread between locations.
Close Public Areas Where Tenants Are Likely to Congregate
If your apartment has an indoor gym or outdoor playground or other amenities that can draw a crowd, it is wise to temporarily close them down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ask Tenants to Limit the Number of Guests
While you may not have the right to tell tenants not to have their babysitters or friends visit them, fewer visitors means less exposure to the virus for everyone else in the building.
Of course, the extent to which you implement these measures will depend on your area and the severity of the virus in your location. While some states and counties are carefully beginning to ease restrictions, others are still at high risk. Follow the advice of your local health officials when deciding on measures to take that can affect the health and safety of your tenants.