Condo Media - June 2020 - 49
ASSOCIATIONS TURN TO CLEAN-UP PROS
to Reduce Virus Risks
MANY CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS are trying to
reduce virus transmission risks in their communities by
increasing and intensifying the cleaning of common areas.
(See related article on page 44.) Some are retaining disaster
remediation companies to supplement the efforts of their
in-house maintenance staff or the outside companies they
employ for regular cleaning service.
Sarah Friedman, vice president of strategic marketing
for ServiceMaster by Gilmore, says associations call for
one of five reasons.
DIRECT YOUR FOCUS.
Focus on high-traffic areas, areas where residents congregate,
and on components residents and staff members touch
frequently - doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, and
stairway railings, for example.
What kind of personal protective equipment do their
crews have? "You want to be sure companies are following
the appropriate protocols to protect residents and their
staffs," she says.
For prophylactic disinfecting as part of a
pandemic management plan
Because someone in the community has
been exposed to the virus
Because there have been confirmed cases
of the virus in the community
They are making plans for reopening amenities
or common spaces
They want to establish a plan for routine
disinfection of common areas
She offers this advice to boards that want to
retain the services of remediation companies.
BE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE SERVICE YOU NEED.
"Is it just preventive, or are you dealing with exposure
or with a known infection?"
DECIDE WHEN YOU WANT THE SERVICE.
Some boards want it during normal working hours,
because they think it is reassuring for residents to
see the cleaning being done, Friedman notes; others
prefer overnight service because they think owners
might be alarmed by the sight of crews in protective
gear disinfecting common areas.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN CLEANING AND DISINFECTING.
"Disinfecting uses chemicals that kill germs," Friedman
explains. "Cleaning removes dirt, but it doesn't kill germs."
UNDERSTAND WHAT DISINFECTING
SURFACES WILL AND WILL NOT DO.
"Disinfecting can provide a temporary reduction in
infection risk," Friedman explains. "It is not a permanent solution. We could disinfect an area at 8," she says. "But if someone walks through at 8:05, it could be re-contaminated."
ASK SERVICE PROVIDERS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
When they can respond? Many are busy and scheduling days
or weeks ahead, Friedman cautions, and some do not provide
COVID-19 disinfection services.
What kind of products do they use? "Residents may have
sensitivities to some products," Friedman notes, "so ask about
the ingredients, and ask if the products are EPA-registered."
Also, be wary of providers who make unfounded claims.
"They shouldn't say they are using products the EPA has
certified as effective against the coronavirus," Friedman
observes. Because the virus is so new, the EPA hasn't certified
any products for it. "Companies can say their products meet
the Emerging Pathogen Standard as likely effective against
COVID-19, because they are effective against previous
coronavirus strains," she says.
Providers also can't certify after treatment that the virus
has been removed, she adds. "They can only certify that the
disinfecting process was carried out correctly."
DETERMINE HOW YOU ARE
GOING TO PAY FOR THE SERVICE.
Some companies may want a deposit before beginning work,
while others may have a minimum fee for a service call. One
unanswered question, Friedman says, is whether insurance will
pay for the work.
Edmund Allcock, a partner in Marcus, Errico, Emmer &
Brooks, P.C., and the 2020 president of CAI-New England,
thinks coverage may be possible for some communities, depending on how their property insurance policies are worded.
Although many policies specifically exclude pathogens, some
exclude only bacteria or fungi, "and viruses aren't bacteria,"
he notes. Policies also provide coverage only for property
damage, but infiltrations of carbon monoxide and ammonia
have been defined as property damage (requiring coverage
for the clean-up), Allcock notes, "so why wouldn't a virus [also
qualify]?" It's not clear how insurers or the courts will respond
to these arguments, he says, but he thinks the possibility of
insurance coverage for virus-related cleaning costs "is at least
worth looking at."
June 2020 CONDOMEDIA
Condo Media - June 2020
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