The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us all, and we realize this is a stressful time for most. As a management company, we wanted to take a moment to share some helpful and practical information. Please keep the following in mind as we all continue to fight through this pandemic.
How can we stay positive?
This may seem like an impossible feat given the circumstances, but staying as positive as possible is critical during these challenging times. Here are a few tips for maintaining a sense of balance and getting through the day.
Limit your news intake. Staying up to date is important, but watching the news for long periods of time can serve to further deepen any fears or sadness you may be experiencing. Instead, limit your daily intake to only what is necessary, and shift your focus to more uplifting television shows, podcasts, music, etc.
Accomplish one positive thing each day. Even the smallest accomplishments can serve as milestones when it comes to improving our overall mood and making us feel good. Commit to
accomplishing one thing per day that you may not have done otherwise (i.e. clean out a drawer, stretch, or make a healthy meal) to keep a small amount of positive momentum going.
Breathe. The personal, emotional, professional and financial stresses you’re feeling may seem insurmountable at times. Unfortunately, too many people are experiencing these same stress points. Worrying about things outside of your control likely will not benefit you. Instead, take a moment to breathe deeply and clear your mind as much as possible.
How can I protect myself?
Avoiding public places is the best way to protect yourself from infection. Workplaces, public transportation, stores, and other gathering places are best avoided if possible.
Many places around the USA are implementing work from home arrangements, which also alleviates the need to take public transportation.
Many people are stocking up on groceries to minimize the number of times they have to go to the stores. Grocery delivery options are also available from a range of services like Amazon/Whole Foods, Instacart, Target, Costco, and others.
It’s important to note that the State of Illinois has issued an Executive Order requiring all Illinoisans to stay in their homes to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This order was effective as of Saturday, March 21 and currently lasts through the end of April. Remember that you are not only risking exposure to yourself, but also the health of all the people you would potentially expose if you were to get sick.
If you must go out in public, wash or sanitize your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and consider wearing a mask, though the effectiveness of these has been called into question. The best defense is staying at home and social distancing when it’s necessary to go outside.
What if someone in my building gets the virus?
Please notify your Board of Directors and management company immediately if you receive confirmation of anyone in your building having exposure or testing positive for the virus. Your management company should then be informing all residents of this within Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.
The best thing residents can do in this scenario is to practice extra social distancing and to wash their hands after touching any surface in the common areas of the building (which is a precaution that should be practiced anyway). In addition, management companies should be instructing all cleaning personnel to continue to wipe down high-touch point areas (elevator buttons, door knobs/handles, keypads, etc.) as thoroughly as possible.
What if I myself have symptoms, or am diagnosed?
If you have symptoms, you should call your doctor before going to an office or clinic in person, and take his or her advice. You will likely be instructed to self-quarantine in your residence. For the good of your fellow residents, please minimize as much as possible any venturing into the outdoors.
If you have more questions about the virus you can reach the State of Illinois coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931.
The City of Chicago has an additional coronavirus hotline operating Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can reach them for local questions as well at 312-746-7425 (SICK).
What will happen with HOA meetings, elections, and voting?
These meetings should be moved to electronic communication to comply with social distancing guidelines and decrease the chance of contagion.
There are a variety of free options you can use to hold meetings including:
As managers, our job is to do everything within our power to stay on top of the outbreak, keep our staff, vendors and residents informed and safe, and ensure that we limit service interruptions as much as possible. With those goals in mind, we can help our communities and each other meet this unprecedented challenge.
Keith J. Hales is president and CEO of Hales Property Management, Inc. in Chicago. He is a licensed Illinois Managing Broker and Community Association Manager (CAM), and a member of the Chicago Association of Realtors and the Association of Condominium, Townhome and Homeowner Association (ACTHA).