The Facilitator

What You Need to Know About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The CDC recommends that you seek the personalized advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of something you have read here. 

By Toni Dupell of WB Engineers + Consultants, Communications Committee Member

COVID-19: What it is

  • Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause either mild illness, such as a cold, or can make people sick with pneumonia. 
  • The strain of coronavirus that was recently detected in thousands of people worldwide is a novel (new) coronavirus, which means that it has not previously been found in humans.
  • There are no specific vaccines or treatments available for this novel coronavirus, or any other coronavirus.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms and want to get tested, talk to your health care provider.


  • Symptoms can include fever, cough or shortness of breath. 
  • An infection can result in death, but that is a rare outcome. 
  • The CDC believes, as of this writing, that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.  

Those at Risk:

  • As of this writing, it was reported that the risk to New Yorkers is low. 
  • If you were recently in Mainland China or other affected areas and have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your primary health care provider.
  • As of this writing, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. 

Suggested Recommendations:

  • Get your flu shot. 
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20+ seconds.
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well.
  • People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. 
  • For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
  • People who think they may have been exposed to coronavirus should contact their healthcare provider immediately.


About the Outbreak:

  • Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and continues to spread.
  • The coronavirus is thought to have passed from animals to humans, like many similar pathogens, but nothing has been confirmed yet by any peer-reviewed scientific research, global public health agency or academic expert. Beyond that, little is known about its origin.


What Does the Outbreak Mean for Facilities Managers?

  • FMs may want to, or be responsible for, purchasing masks/gloves/thermometers. Check with your firm.
  • Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans and hand sanitizer.
  • Keep workspaces clean! Use cleaners with disinfectant to wipe down workstations, countertops and doorknobs. Provide disposable wipes to your staff.  
  • Ensure that cleaning staff is disinfecting common areas, doorknobs, refrigerator handles – anything people touch moving around a facility that may carry germs.
  • Emphasize and encourage healthy hygiene habits and etiquette. Put up posters encouraging staff to stay home when sick, to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hands), and to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Consider making alcohol-based hand sanitizer available at your place of business. You can order free posters from the Health Department reinforcing these healthy habits by calling 311 or visiting to download and print.


Additional resources for FMs: 




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