Coronavirus Notice to Clients

| Mar 19, 2020 | Firm News |

We see that our Association clients are conscientiously considering and addressing the health and safety of their members.

A Discussion of Emergency Power of a Condominium Board of Directors and Suggested Actions for Community Associations and a Proposed Association Action Plan are attached. Each Association’s needs are different. The attached Proposed Action Plan suggests actions that are not applicable for all Associations. These suggestions are designed to open dialogue about possible alternative measures to be considered by Boards of Directors in conjunction with their consultation with health care providers and Association management, which we urge for each of our clients. We hope that the attachments help to stimulate review of the latest information and protocols being collected from health experts and government authorities to be considered by Boards of Directors making important decisions on emergent changes to Association operations.

We remain available to address these matters with our clients.

Disclaimer of Medical Advice:

You understand and acknowledge that all users of this website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All of the content provided on the website, including text, treatments, dosages, outcomes, charts, profiles, graphics, photographs, images, advice, messages, and forum postings, are for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The content is not intended to establish a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website. You understand and acknowledge that you should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health. You also understand and acknowledge that you should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained in or transmitted through the website.

Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information on this website or on the linked websites should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided on this website or any linked websites is solely at your own risk.

DISCUSSION OF EMERGENCY POWERS OF A CONDOMINIUM’S BOARD  OF DIRECTORS AND SUGGESTED ACTIONS FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS TO DEAL WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

The coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause the common cold and more severe diseases such as COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19, which can appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure, can include fever, runny nose, cough, and breathing trouble.

Most develop only mild symptoms. But some individuals, usually those with other medical complications, can develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be

fatal. There is presently no vaccine for COVID-19. The CDC is recommending that Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID- 19 outbreak in their community.

On March 9, 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency as the coronavirus continues impacting Florida. This declaration was issued under the authority of s. 252.36, Florida Statutes which authorizes a state of emergency to be declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor if he/she finds an emergency has occurred or that the occurrence or the threat thereof is imminent. Under this statute, the state of emergency shall continue until the Governor finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist, and he terminates the state of emergency by executive order or proclamation.

As discussed in this article, the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency forms the basis for a condominium association’s board of directors to exercise emergency powers under Section 718.1265 which provides in relevant part:1

1. There remains a question about how helpful the statute is, because its use of the terms “in response to damage caused by an event was intended to address, which might be construed as only applying to natural disasters resulting in property damage, such as hurricanes. However, the statute uses the term “damage” which is broad enough to include both property and other forms of damage and also treats prevention of the spread of fungus as a form of damages. In fact, Black’s Law Dictionary defines the term “damage” as: “Loss or injury to person or property. Black’s Law Dictionary (11th Ed. 2019) (Emphasis added).

To the extent allowed by law and unless specifically prohibited by the declaration of condominium, the articles, or the bylaws of an association, in response to damage caused by an event for which a state of emergency is declared pursuant to s. 252.36 in the locale in which the condominium is located, may, but is not required to, exercise the following powers:

(a) Conduct board meetings and membership meetings with notice given as is practicable. Such notice may be given in any practicable manner, including publication, radio, United States mail, the Internet, public service announcements, and conspicuous posting on the condominium property or any other means the board deems reasonable under the circumstances. Notice of board decisions may be communicated as provided in this paragraph.

(b) Cancel and reschedule any association meeting.

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(d) Relocate the association’s principal office or designate alternative principal offices.

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(g) Based upon advice of emergency management officials or upon the advice of licensed professionals retained by the board, determine any portion of the condominium property unavailable for entry or occupancy by unit owners, family members, tenants, guests, agents, or invitees to protect the health, safety, or welfare of such persons.

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(i) Based upon advice of emergency management officials or upon the advice of licensed professionals retained by the board, determine whether the condominium property can be safely inhabited or occupied. However, such determination is not conclusive as to any determination of habitability pursuant to the declaration.

(j) Mitigate further damage, including taking action to contract for the removal of debris and to prevent or mitigate the spread of fungus, including, but not limited to, mold or mildew, by removing and disposing of wet drywall, insulation, carpet, cabinetry, or other fixtures on or within the condominium property, even if the unit owner is obligated by the declaration or law to insure or replace those fixtures and to remove personal property from a unit.

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(2) The special powers authorized under subsection (1) shall be limited to that time reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the association and the unit owners and the unit owners’ family members, tenants, guests, agents, or invitees and shall be reasonably necessary to mitigate further damage and make emergency repairs.

The Community Associations Institute https://www.caionline.org/pages/coronavirus.aspx The following are some of their recommendations: 2 has recently published recommended guidelines for community associations which are located at:

2. is an international trade association and special interest group headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, with more than 60 chapters in the United States that provides “education and resources to the volunteer homeowners who govern community associations” and provides petitions for legislative and regulatory beneficence for its members.

  • Community associations should review or establish an emergency plan in consultation with legal counsel, insurance and risk management experts, and their manager.
  • This plan could address whether it’s possible to conduct association business remotely, how to handle common areas and amenities, anti-discrimination compliance, wage and hour laws if the associations employ staff, and communication with residents.
  • In addition, state and local governments may be offering guidance or mandates regarding “group gatherings.” Community associations should check with the state or local health officials to determine if guidance or restrictions are in place.

o Common areas and amenities. Community associations control the common areas, and owners are responsible for their private property. If the virus becomes widespread, communities may want to consider:

o Extensive cleaning, disinfecting, or wiping down of common areas and common area surfaces.

o Postponing or cancelling community events and meetings

o Closing common areas and amenities, such as gyms, clubhouses, and pools

o Installing hand sanitizer dispensers or wipes on common areas for owner and guest use

  • Community associations responses to residents regarding the coronavirus must be compliant under the Fair Housing Act and related regulations. According to HUD: ” Exigencies associated with important and timely response to issues surrounding COVID-19 are not the basis for unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published an online guide for communities, schools, healthcare facilities, businesses and homes to mitigate transmission of COVID-19. The CDC’s guide which is located at:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/guidance-community-faith-organizations.html and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf set for various mitigation strategies for communities dealing with transmission. Some of the key mitigation strategies set forth in this guide include the following:

  • As of March 15, 2020, the “CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.”

3. The full text of the CDC’s recommendations regarding mass gatherings can be found at:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html #postponing

  • “For organizations that serve high-risk populations, cancel gatherings of more than 10 people.”
  • “Each community is unique, and appropriate mitigation strategies will vary based on the level of community transmission, characteristics of the community and their populations, and the local capacity to implement strategies.”
  • “When developing mitigation plans, communities should identify ways to ensure the safety and social well-being of groups that may be especially impacted by mitigation strategies, including individuals at increased risk for severe illness.”
  • “Establish ongoing communication with your local public health department to facilitate access to relevant information before and during an outbreak.”
  • ” . . .the specific details of your plan should be based on the extent of the outbreak and the size of your organization and workforce, complexity of your day-to-day operations, and type of on-site and off-site services your organization provides to vulnerable populations.”
  • “Find out if your local government has a private-public emergency planning group that meets regularly. Building strong alliances before an outbreak may provide your organization with the support and resources needed to respond effectively.”
  • “Identify services which might be limited or temporarily discontinued during an outbreak. Find alternative solutions that will ensure continuity for your community, especially for vulnerable populations served by your organization.”
  • “Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your organization. Have supplies on hand for staff, volunteers, and those you serve, such as soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, and disposable facemasks. Plan to have extra supplies on hand during a COVID-19 outbreak.”
  • “Encourage those you serve to seek out a “buddy” who will check on and help care for them if they get sick.”
  • “. . . a COVID-19 outbreak can last for a long time. When public health officials determine that the outbreak has ended, work with them to identify criteria for phasing out and ending your organization’s COVID-19 actions. The criteria should be based on reduced severity or a slowing of the outbreak in your local area.”

UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT MAY INCREASE THE RISK OF SERIOUS COVID-19 FOR INDIVIDUALS OF ANY AGE

  • Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners)
  • Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis
  • Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS)
  • Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks
  • Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus)
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)

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  • Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen
  • Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury

OTHER COVID-19 READINESS RESOURCES

 

 

POSSIBLE CORONAVIRUS (CO-VID 19) ACTION PLAN

Dear Unit Owner:

In view of the extraordinary actions of the Federal, State, and Local governments and to safeguard the health of our residents and staff, effective immediately, we are closing many of the building’s amenities. The Board of Directors has met and has approved a resolution mandating that the following Action Plan be put into effect immediately. These actions are being taken, in accordance with the advice of health care providers and our manager and legal counsel, in order to protect to the maximum extent possible, the health and welfare of Unit Owners, guests and employees.

Effective March ___, 2020 , the following facilities will be closed until further notice:

  • Cabana and pool
  • Spa
  • Games Room
  • Fitness Center
  • Sauna and Steam Room
  • Hot Tub
  • Outdoor Lounge

We will be deep cleaning the foregoing amenities and other common areas, including the hallways. We will inform you as to whether and/or when the amenities will reopen. We also ask that residents should maintain a proper distance away from each other and engage in social distancing in the building.

  • Contractors: Starting March ___ 2020, non-essential work in Units will be stopped for a period of 5 days. During that week the Board will evaluate the Condominium’s ability to ramp up cleaning protocols and if possible we will lift the ban on March ____, 2020.
  • Guests: All Unit Owners are requested to limit the number of guests invited into their Units and Unit Owners shall not be allowed to have more than 10 guests per day.
  • Nurse Practitioner: The Association will be hiring a nurse practitioner who will be using a non-contact, infrared thermometer to check the temperatures of people entering the Building. If a person’s temperature is above 100.4 degrees we will use the following protocols:
  • Unit Owners: Will be asked to go home, follow the CDC’s guidelines for self-monitoring and will be asked to contact a medical professional.
  • Employees: Will be asked to go home, follow the CDC’s guidelines for self-monitoring and will be asked to contact a medical professional.
  • Contractor Employees: The entire workforce will be asked to leave the Condominium.
  • Visitors: Will be declined entry unless there is an emergency or entry is medically necessary.
  • Delivery Personnel: Will be declined entry unless there is an emergency or entry is medically necessary.
  • Healthcare Providers and Housekeepers: Will be asked to go home, follow the CDC’s guidelines for self-monitoring and will be asked to contact a medical professional. We urge Unit Owners to develop a contingency plan in the event that their healthcare provider is found to be sick.
  • Privacy: As you know, the safety of our residents and staff is of the utmost importance. That said, we are also obligated to respect the privacy of our Unit Owners/residents as well as the privacy of staff members.

Accordingly, to comply with federal, state and local privacy laws, we cannot disclose a resident’s medical condition without the person’s written consent nor can we disclose an employee’s medical condition or disclose any other information allowing anyone to identify any individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or may have been exposed to COVID-19.

  • Enhanced Cleaning Protocols: The following enhanced cleaning protocols will be put into effect Immediately:

These surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected every 4 hours between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.:

  • All interior elevator button panels.
  • All elevator railings.
  • All exterior elevator door button panels.
  • The surfaces of all mailboxes and their associated shelves.
  • All doorknobs in the lobby.
  • All doorknobs in the garage.
  • The lobby furniture tables
  • The lobby bathrooms
  • The conference room table
  • Front Desk keyboards and telephones
  • Office desks phones and computers
  • Any other common area surfaces that are touched frequently.
  • Activities: All social events have been canceled.
  • Valet: We encourage residents to park their own cars where possible.
  • Common Area Restrooms: We encourage residents not to use public restrooms when possible.

Effective immediately, all staff are being advised that they should not enter the homes of residents.

The Association will endeavor to obtain updated emergency contact information for all owners including any resident who may be particularly vulnerable.

The hotline for the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121 will be posted in the lobby of the building, in the parking garage as well as at the front desk.

We are developing a plan of action if any resident is exposed or infected by the virus and will keep you advised.

OTHER COVID-19 READINESS RESOURCES: