Beaumont Tashjian Law Blog

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Coronavirus, Flu and What You Can Do

As of the time this article is written, documented cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are 90,000 worldwide, and counting, with over 3,000 deaths. These numbers pale in comparison to the flu, which kills an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide each year. With this in mind, community association leaders can and should take extra precautions to protect themselves and their communities.

First, associations can use this as an opportunity to connect with their members and residents, through weekly newsletters, emails, flyers or common area postings, updating them about the virus, notifying them of any reported incidences in the community at large, and if necessary, informing them that there may be an immediate threat to the community. Boards and managers should also begin directing vendors and cleaning staff to focus frequently on particularly high-traffic common areas (gym, clubhouse, pool, sauna), which may be more susceptible to harboring the virus or other germs. Installation of hand sanitizer dispensers or wipes in these locations is also recommended.

“Community association leaders can and should take extra precautions to protect themselves and their communities”

The Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) also recommends that individuals take the following precautions, which may impact how and when homeowners association meetings are held: a) avoid close contact with people who are sick; b) avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; c) stay at home if sick; d) cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; e) clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe; f) wash your hands often. These recommendations and the threat of a community-spread epidemic beg the question, “how should you be conducting your association meetings during this time?”

•Board Meetings: The Open Meeting Act requires board decision-making on any “item of business” to take place at a duly noticed board meeting. However, sick directors should avoid these meetings and participate through teleconference. While meeting in person is always preferred, if several or all directors are feeling sick, they should consider calling in, or, the meeting should be postponed, with notice of the new meeting delivered to the membership. 

•Members’ Roles: Members attending Board or membership meetings should also heed the instructions of the CDC and stay home when feeling sick. This goes for election meetings too, where secret ballot requirements allow you to be heard by submitting a ballot, without actually attending. For disciplinary or other hearings, open a line of communication with management or the Board, and ask to reschedule, which should be granted in light of the circumstances. 

**When in doubt about these procedures, be sure to check your governing documents and consult with legal counsel!**

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