When it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus, co-op and condo boards need to prepare for a chilling reality: sometimes, even being ahead of the curve isn’t good enough.
Consider the case of the Park Avenue real estate brokerage Newmark Knight Frank, which last Monday took the precautionary step of posting a nurse in its reception area to screen guests for possible contagion. The nurse was instructed to ask guests about their recent travels in order to gauge whether they had been in areas where the virus has been present. The nurse also assesses guests’ basic physical appearance and takes their temperature – because a major symptom of coronavirus infection is high fever.
Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union (Local 32BJ) has advised unionized building staffers that employers, including co-op and condo boards, are within their rights to take the temperature of arriving workers.
On Tuesday, the day after the nurse went to work at Newmark Knight Frank, Crain’s reports that an employee of the brokerage tested positive for Covid-19.
Several employees at the firm, who didn’t want to be identified, said they planned to work from home on Thursday and Friday as concerns have grown about the risk of exposure in both the workplace and during a commute. The law firm Meister, Seelig and Fein, which has its 100-person office in the same building as Newmark, 125 Park Ave., said that it was encouraging employees to work from home for the remainder of the week. A partner at the firm said the situation would be re-evaluated today.
The infection of a Newmark employee follows several other cases at real estate companies, including Meridian Capital and Brookfield Asset Management, and has created concerns about the safety of being in Manhattan office space during the outbreak. Major companies, including Google and Amazon, have recommended that staff avoid traveling to the office and work from home.
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