by David M. Dworkin
Two weeks ago, I wrote to you about NHC’s concerns regarding novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19. As we have all experienced, the situation continues to evolve at a breathtaking pace. NHC is committed to providing you regular, accurate and thoroughly vetted information on what this means for our members and the people they serve. This note addresses how NHC is responding to this rapidly evolving situation, what we are planning to make available to our members, and provides external links with useful information.
As housing leaders, all of us have a unique opportunity to provide scientifically sound information and in some cases, directly participate in efforts to isolate and contain the epidemic. Many of our members manage multi-family apartment buildings, for market rate, low-income residents, and seniors, or provide services to the homeless in a variety of settings. There are a wide range of issues that need to be explored. As more workers telework, opportunities for transmission move from the workplace to the home. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of credible information and virtually no experience to prepare us for this challenge. Together, however, we will learn, and share that learning, as we engage with this crisis on the front lines.
NHC is holding a webinar on COVID-19 and Housing on March 19 at 11:30 a.m. EDT featuring a presentation by the Associate Director for Epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health. This will provide members with up to date information on the current situation and begin a discussion of housing related matters from a public health professional standpoint. It’s an important distinction. Not all lawyers are competent to draft a mortgage-backed security or derivative instrument, and not all doctors are trained in public health and epidemiology. We want to be sure to provide information that has been vetted by the right specialists. We are also preparing a web page with resources and a FAQ that will be updated with sourced material on a regular basis. Registration for this free webinar is available here. Please offer attendance to anyone in your network who may benefit from the information – it is NOT restricted to our members, though we will only have 1,000 ports available.
While there are no travel restrictions into or out of the DC area at this time, many of our stakeholders have already instituted travel restrictions for their employees. As a result, the Solutions for Housing Communications 2020 convening, which was scheduled to take place at the National Press Club on March 18, has been postponed. We will provide an online event for registered participants in the near future.
No decision has been made on the June Housing Visionary Awards Gala. Our Board of Governors will make a decision on the Gala at the appropriate time. Finally, we encourage all of you to consult with responsible and informed sources of information to guide your own decisions.
NHC member the National Multifamily Housing Council has prepared an outstanding guide on Coronavirus Preparedness for Apartment Firms. It includes guidance on developing an Incident Response Plan, employee and resident communications, prevention of transmission, establishing protocols for employee leave, telework and travel policies and other valuable information.
Our commitment is to help you and your stakeholders stay as safe as possible. You are on our minds, and in our prayers.
Please note that several excellent sources of additional information include:
- Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) 2019 Novel Coronavirus page
- World Health Organization (WHO) information and guidance on COVID-19
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
CDC’s website includes important guidance on a wide range of topics. These include:
- Stop the Spread of Germs
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
- CDC Interim Guidance on Large Community Events
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the US Department of Labor has guidance for employers, including:
- OSHA 2019 Novel Coronavirus Overview
- Key OSHA Standards, Worker’s Rights and Employer Responsibilities for COVID-19
- OSHA Protecting Workers During a Pandemic Fact Sheet
And the CDC, EPA and American Chemistry Council have recommended cleaning protocols and disinfectants:
- CDC Cleaning and Disinfectant Recommendations for Community Facilities with Suspected/Confirmed COVID-19 Exposur
- EPA List of Disinfectants to Use Against COVID-19
- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)—Fighting Products
David M. Dworkin is President and CEO of the National Housing Conference.