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Facilities Implement Coronavirus Emergency Plans


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness
Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the Coronavirus

As COVID-19 — coronavirus — continues to afflict more people in the United States, a growing number of institutional and commercial facilities are implementing emergency plans in order to minimize the impact of the virus on occupants, visitors and operations. Despite the preparations and actions, the virus seems likely to have a major impact on buildings and organizations.

But how much? While such predictions are speculation, they are based in large part on similar recent outbreaks, such as SARS in 2003, avian flu in 2013 and the zika virus in 2015. Here are updates on preparations in and potential impacts on key building markets:

Commercial office. Henry Chin, CBRE’s head of Asia Pacific research, says he expects the economic impact of COVID-19 to be confined largely to the first half of 2020, assuming the situation is brought under control and does not escalate significantly in major cities, according to Connect Media. COVID-19 will have an effect on business generally and commercial real estate in particular, in the United States and abroad, CBRE’s experts agreed, but that effect is expected to be short-term and limited primarily to mainly travel and retail.

Schools. As the nation’s K-12 schools work on preventing the appearance and spread of the virus, they also are starting to prepare for the worst, according to PBS. Many are making plans to teach students online in case the virus spreads so widely that schools are forced to close. Officials are considering how they would handle large numbers of absences among students or teachers and how to make up days that could be missed because of the virus.

Hospitals. Hospitals across the United States are modifying screening and triage protocols to detect COVID-19 patients as early as possible, according to ABC News. Dr. Mark Jarrett, the chief quality officer for Northwell Health, says that across all 23 sites they are "working on screening, triage and identification so that any places of entry are included and addressed.”

Says Dr. Theresa Madaline, epidemiologist at Montefiore Hospital, “When preparing for an outbreak the main priorities are to identify, isolate, and inform.”

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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