Quick Tip #4: A Cautionary Tale

Communicating if a staffer, resident or tenant tests positive for COVID-19.


Word spread at lightning speed in my high-rise condominium last week, saying that three members of our staff had Coronavirus. Emails circulated among residents, worrying that our community was no longer safe.  Panic set in.  


In reality, no member of the staff had the virus.  A family member of one of our staffers tested positive, so the staffer was quarantining at home as a precaution. 


People panicked because condo leadership didn’t alert residents, wrongly assuming the information would cause needless alarm.  When leadership is silent, rumors spread like wildfire, people accuse you of a "cover up" and you lose control of the situation.  The crisis brain in panic mode needs to know the facts and be reassured.


Quick #1 listed key message points for acknowledging COVID-19 in advocacy communications.  This week, we are providing communications guidance if COVID-19 strikes a member of your staff or a resident. 


  1. Working with your legal counsel, prepare a communications plan ahead of time, including template written communications with your residents or tenants, so you can move quickly.  

  2. Identify the communications channels you will use, such as mass email to residents and inclusion in your weekly newsletter.

  3. Communicate as quickly as possible, even if you have little information to share.  Early communications puts you in control of the message.

  4. Explain the situation to the extent that you can. Respect the privacy of the impacted staffer or resident by not publicly disclosing their identity.

  5. Express empathy and sympathy for the impacted staff and concerned residents.  

  6. Reassure your residents/tenants by detailing the protective steps you are taking going forward, and reiterate the other steps you are already taking. 


Watch your email for more Quick Tips in the days to come and check out our blog for ones you may have missed.  Please accept our best wishes for you, your loved ones and employees to stay safe and healthy during these trying times.


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