MBRE Webinar with Dr. Emily Landon, University of Chicago Medical Center

Chicago, IL | June 10, 2020

Thursday, June 4, MBRE hosted an incredibly successful webinar for our clients with a leading epidemiologist, allowing our commercial real estate partners to go right to the source for the best COVID-19 safety measures for modern offices. We are thankful to Dr. Emily Landon, Associate Professor of Medicine and Executive Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the University of Chicago Medical Center, for answering our questions and quelling our fears. We are also thankful to all the attendees who asked questions.

To help as many in the commercial real estate community as possible, we have decided to share this insightful seminar. Here, you will find the video of the full hour-long webinar, along with some of Dr. Landon’s more salient points paraphrased below the video. We hope these resources will serve as a learning tool for the community at large, while also giving a candid look at how the buildings across our portfolio have prioritized the safety of staff and tenants alike.

Methods to Protection

Stacked interventions and layering protection techniques will provide the highest level of protection for groups of people. In short, face coverings, six-foot social distancing, wiping down surfaces, and washing hands will go a long way in stopping the spread of coronavirus in and beyond offices.

Building Cleaning Efforts

Coronavirus is easy to kill with the use of any FDA-approved anti-viral disinfectant. If you’re already using disinfectant wipes and sprays, electrostatic and UV cleaning are not necessary. For individuals, it’s essential to wipe down your keyboard, mouse, desktop, and any other high-touch areas at the start and end of your day.

Are Routine Tests Helpful?

At this stage of COVID-19 pandemic recovery, testing for the virus without cause does not offer general protection. With that said, if there has been known exposure to coronavirus, tests can be useful.

Serology: Do Antibodies Protect You?

Though our bodies produce lots of antibodies, there is no guarantee they will offer protection to you or others around you. Research is ongoing to understand the significance of antibodies in relation to COVID-19.

Sharing Space

Inevitably, you will experience pinch points like hallways while still trying to protect against coronavirus. Move with purpose, staying aware of your surroundings.

When Does COVID-19 Lead to Serious Illness?

Though many individuals have comparatively mild symptoms, there are two severe ways in which coronavirus is causing people to end up in the hospital:

  • Viral pneumonia has wreaked havoc among many who’ve contracted coronavirus, especially individuals within at-risk populations.
  • Another issue has been an overactive response from the immune system called a cytokine storm. This overreaction causes the body to attack the organs and potentially cause blood clots. This reaction also presents itself in individuals not considered “at-risk,” including young, healthy patients.

Are Elevators Safe?

When it comes to elevators, as with most things, the risk vs. the reward must be measured. Elevators have one positive: rides are relatively short. The biggest negative for elevators is poor ventilation.

It is recommended that individuals pay close attention to elevator signage and floor markings.

Are Airplanes Safe?

Weighing risk vs. reward, if you need to take a flight during the coronavirus pandemic, pay attention to instructions from the airlines. Importantly, pay attention to individuals within two rows of your seat. If a neighbor is symptomatic, get off the plane.

And as always, necessary precautions should be taken while flying. You should travel with hand sanitizer, wipes, and face coverings, and even a face shield, if available. Clean all touch surfaces you might come into contact with, including your seat belt, tray table, and armrests. If possible, use a hard case suitcase for easy cleaning.

Is Air Filtration Useful?

As a precautionary method, air filtration has several uses. Increasing air turnover is a plus, and is useful in ensuring droplets are not stagnant and spreading in the air. While HEPA air filtration helps with a variety of things, it is not proven to help with COVID-19.

When Can Schools Reopen?

For schools to open, it is crucial to understand how coronavirus is spreading through communities. Until contact tracing reaches 90%—which is a big hurdle—schools should not open.

Lead by Example: Masks Are Like Pants

Right now, we must keep covering our mouths and noses. Masks continue to be necessary. Think of it like this: Masks are like pants, sometimes they are hot, sometimes they are uncomfortable, but you still wear them.