FAQs: Health & Safety
Updated March 16, 2020
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent contraction of COVID-19, which means the best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure. You can do this by avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and by social distancing: putting distance between yourself and other people, particularly if you know COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
What constitutes “close contact”?
If you’re within six feet of someone for a prolonged period of time, that counts as “close contact.” If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you are at increased risk of contracting it as well.
I typically drive clients to showings. Should I stop doing that?
You might want to consider it, since sharing a car with someone qualifies as close contact. However, if you do refuse to drive potential clients to see homes, make sure that you apply this policy to all clients equally. If you continue to drive clients in your car, it’s a good idea to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles and seat belt latches.
I’ve heard a lot about handwashing. Why is it so important?
One of the main ways people contract COVID-19 is by touching an infected person or surface and then touching their face. Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds will remove the germs from your hands. If soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol works, too (which makes hand sanitizer a good option when traveling to showings, etc.).
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
I typically shake hands with clients when I greet them. Should I stop doing that?
Yes. But most people will understand and probably be grateful for your consideration.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Do I need a facemask?
Only if you’re sick. For those who are sick, facemasks help to prevent you from coughing and sneezing on (and thus spreading the virus to) other people. But if you’re not sick, they won’t do much to prevent you from contracting the virus. We’re facing a facemask shortage nationwide, and the CDC encourages those feeling healthy to the facemasks for those who need them.
I think I might be sick. Should I go to the doctor?
Call first. Doctors’ offices are overloaded right now, and if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, your doctor’s office will want to take appropriate precautions before you come in.
What do I do if I get sick?
The CDC recommends staying at home and as far away from others as possible. If possible, you should stay in a room separate from all other members of your household (including pets). Wear a facemask if you need to be out in public and wash your hands often. Be sure you are in frequent communication with your healthcare provider for medical advice. The CDC has additional recommendations for how to take care of yourself at home if you contract COVID-19 on its website here.
What should I do if I’m at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19?
If you are an older adult or have a serious chronic condition like heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, the CDC recommends that you stay home as much as possible and put space between yourself and others whenever you do have to go out. Stock up on supplies so that if the situation in your community worsens, you will not have to leave the house as often.
What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices?
Brokers should use their best judgement when formulating a plan. First, brokers should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff exhibiting any signs of illness, and depending on where the broker is geographically located, a broker may want to consider whether imposing a mandatory remote work policy is appropriate. In addition, taking measures such as holding virtual meetings or potentially postponing or cancelling in-person meetings or events may be good measures to take to limit close contact between individuals. Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events.
Finally, do not panic, stay informed, and use your best judgement. The situation is rapidly changing, so focus on putting policies and procedures in place to keep your employees informed, safe, and to avoid business disruption in the event the situation worsens.
I’m traveling soon. Should I cancel?
The CDC is recommending that older adults and persons of any age with chronic health conditions avoid all nonessential travel at this time. If you do not fall into one of those categories, check the CDC’s current travel advisoriesbefore proceeding. Consider whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak occurring at your destination, whether you will be at close contact with others during your trip and whether you can afford to get quarantined for up to 14 days after travel if you do come in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and have to self-quarantine.