The number of Coronavirus cases, officially called COVID-19, is increasing within the United States. As of March 11, 2020, Illinois has twenty-five (25) confirmed cases and the number appears to be increasing daily. At this point, we must be prepared for increasing transmissions of Coronavirus in Illinois. While there is no need to panic, associations and association management should look to institute precautionary measures to help stop the spread of this illness and to make plans, should an association resident or employee contract Coronavirus. These tips are also helpful to combat the spread of other contagious illnesses, such as the flu.
First, individuals who are sick should be reminded to stay home and to avoid contact with others. For an association, this is particularly important with respect to its employees and its managing agent. To the extent that employees or managers can work from home in the event of illness, they should be permitted to do so. Action must be taken to attempt to contain the spread of Coronavirus. Therefore, in the interest of such containment, everyone should be understanding of slight inconveniences and delays in receiving services, which may be caused by absences due to illness.
For associations with shared common areas and/or recreational amenities, Boards should immediately consider increased cleaning and disinfecting of common area and common areas surfaces. In addition, it should consider making hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes readily available within the common areas. Avoiding close contact with others is also recommended if Coronavirus (or other illness) is spreading. While association business must go on, Boards may want to consider conducting meetings via conference call or through other electronic means, such as zoom. Doing so permits the Board to continue to be able to conduct business, at a forum open for members, without risking potential exposure through close contact. In addition to the foregoing, if it becomes necessary, Boards may also have to consider temporarily closing common area facilities and cancelling social events. This is especially true in Housing for Older Person Communities, as it appears that older adults are those most at risk.
It is important to remember that the purpose of the Association is to oversee the common elements. It is not charged with the health of the members within the community. In that regard, we do not believe that an association can or should mandate that residents advise the Board of Directors if they contract Coronavirus. Should the Board of Directors obtain this information from the resident directly, while it should take action, it must also insure that confidentiality is maintained. Therefore, in the event that the Board or management is advised of a case of Coronavirus within the community, the resident should be directed to limit his/her use of the common elements and to not attend meetings or social gatherings with the community. With respect to the other residents, the Board should simply advise that a case has been confirmed within the Association, but that the person will not be identified by the Association’s Board or its agents (by name, address, unit, or floor). Finally, to the extent that the Board had not implemented the recommendations noted above, it should do so immediately.
In the days and weeks ahead, people should continue to review information as published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional helpful information as to how to avoid illness at home, work and school can be found on its website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html. We continue to stress that we do not believe that there is a need to panic. However, Associations and its members need to stay informed and take the measures outlined above to prevent transmissions. While routines and practices may need to be adjusted in the coming months, efforts at prevention and education are essential to defeating the Coronavirus or other communicable illness. If the Association should have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact either Gabriella Comstock at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dawn Moody at email@example.com.