COVID-19 has changed the way we live in ways no one ever imagined. To say that the disease took the world by surprise would be an understatement. No one saw it coming. Everyone scrambled to keep up with the sudden changes it brought upon the world. Homeowners associations, for one, had to implement immediate changes to keep their respective communities safe from the threat of the novel coronavirus.
In general, every homeowners association across the nation has an emergency and disaster preparedness plan already in place but when COVID-19 hit, no one was prepared for it because no one saw and understood the scope of damage it could do. HOAs knew they had to make changes in order to keep their communities safe. Below are some of the points they considered to update their disaster and emergency preparedness plan amidst COVID-19:
1. Follow CDC and WHO recommendations
The first thing HOAs did was to follow the basic health and safety recommendations of the CDC and WHO. Every homeowner-member within their jurisdiction were asked to do the following: wear a mask when stepping outside, frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, limit trips outside the home (going out only when absolutely necessary), and practice physical distancing.
In addition to these, HOAs also implemented a “no-guest” policy where guests from outside the community aren’t allowed to visit except in emergency medical situations. Public amenities were also closed: swimming pools, gyms, and parks
2. At-risk residents are identified
At the onset of COVID-19, the WHO and CDC identified at-risk individuals as those who are aged 55 years old and above. In response to this, HOAs too identified vulnerable residents within their community and implemented additional regulations to keep them safe. These additional recommendations generally included fully restricting trips outside, which means they will rely on their household members or caregivers to procure supplies and other necessities for them. Medical appointments may also be restricted to at-home visits by their healthcare practitioner.
In the event of a disaster or emergency where residents need to be evacuated, HOAs must develop an evacuation plan that will still keep the residents safe from COVID-19. That means evacuation plans need to still strictly follow health and safety protocols recommended by the CDC. The biggest challenge is maintaining physical distancing during evacuation and after when residents are already gathered at the designated evacuation center/location.
These are only a few changes and considerations HOAs made to keep their residents safe in this time of the pandemic. Emergency and disaster preparedness plans may be updated from time to time to keep up with the new changes brought on by the pandemic.