COVID-19 and Cooperative Values

By now we have all heard of the existence and spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). But have you heard that the more common seasonal flu is causing many more infections and deaths than COVID-19?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more 34 million people have been sickened by the common flu, from 350,000 to 620,000 people have been hospitalized, and from 20,000 to 52,000 people have died from during the current flu season.

On the other hand, as of March 12, 2020, the COVID-19 virus has affected 129,838 persons and led to 4,751 deaths worldwide.  “Right now, the number of COVID-19 cases pales in comparison to the number of flu cases,” says Dr. Gregory Poland a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases and vaccine specialist. “Unlike COVID-19, seasonal flu is in every state and every community in the U.S.”

Nevertheless, Cooperative Boards and Management may wish to consider posting the following advice on their bulletin boards, in common areas, and in member mailboxes.

In light of the Flu and COVID -19 concerns, the Cooperative encourages members, visitors, management and staff to:

  1. Practice handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.
  2. Stay in your unit when sick and notify management of illness.
  3. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, and light switches.
  4. Ensure hand hygiene supplies are readily accessible throughout the facility and common areas.
  5. If caring for an individual living in a cooperative, monitor the situation, and ask about the health of the other members frequently.
  6. Implement social distancing measures as feasible, such as reducing large gatherings, reduce the use of common areas, and limiting programs with external staff.
  7. Limit visitors to only those persons who are absolutely necessary.
  8. Communicate with Staff and Management by phone or text, rather than coming to the office if possible.

During this time, it is important to also remember the values upon which our Cooperatives are built.  Cooperatives are grounded on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, and community.  Cooperative members believe in honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.  With news reports bombarding us daily, let us not forget the needs of our neighbors and the values that make cooperative living desirable.

Attorney Kerry Lee Morgan has extensive experience in matters related to federal housing discrimination law and has worked with cooperatives to resolve disputes and enhance cooperative quality of life. He previously served as an Attorney-Advisor with the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

Elevator Safety: Deadline Looming for NYC Condominiums, Cooperatives

Condominiums and cooperatives in New York City have until Jan. 1 to comply with a safety regulation from the city’s Department of Buildings that requires installation of door-lock monitoring systems to prevent an elevator from moving if the doors are not fully closed, The New York Times reports.

This safety regulation, adopted in 2014, was prompted by a fatal 2011 incident. It’s estimated that about 44,000 automated elevators in the city need to be fitted with door-lock monitoring systems, says Donald Gelestino, president of elevator maintenance company Champion Elevator.

The installation cost of the door-lock safety systems depends on the elevator’s age, with newer ones needing only an activation of the device that is likely already in place or a software update compared to elevators that are at least 5 years old, which would either need to go through a retrofit or a complete upgrade.

Dennis DePaola, an executive vice president and director of compliance at New York City-based management company Orsid Realty, says the company communicated early on with approximately 170 condominium and cooperative clients in the city to let them know about updating the systems.

“The cost could be anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 per elevator, and many of our buildings have four, five, or six elevators, so it could be a costly endeavor,” explains DePaola. He adds that because the safety devices do not contribute to the operating life of the elevators, Orsid provided boards with evaluations about the remaining useful life of the equipment before they decided whether to either retrofit or upgrade.

Orsid got the discussion started early at each of its properties, but DePaola says that there has been “a lot of anxiety through the management community in New York City about the ability of elevator maintenance companies to go and retrofit all the elevators in the city. There’s only so much personnel and equipment to go around.”

Several trade groups have been in talks with the Department of Buildings to request an extension for some buildings that cannot complete retrofits or upgrades before the Jan. 1 deadline.

The city’s Department of Buildings also is requiring elevators to have a secondary emergency brake installed by 2027, which is prompting many boards to contemplate a complete elevator modernization project for systems that are more than 20 years old, according to The New York Times.

DePaola recommends that condominium and cooperative boards looking to modernize their systems hire an elevator consultant to find out what specifically needs to be upgraded or brought up to code. The consultant will typically suggest that boards get bids from three or four maintenance companies before undergoing a modernization project. CHQ

Reprinted with permission from Ungated, a blog published by Community Associations Institute.

Kiara Candelaria is associate editor for CAI’s print and digital publications.


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