Shared spaces in apartment buildings present a challenge during social distancing

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DENVER (KDVR) — When you live in one of the many large apartment complexes throughout the city, it can be tough to follow social distancing even when at home. 

The Problem Solvers sat down digitally with Dr. Michelle Barron, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital to discuss some “best practices” during this pandemic in shared spaces you can’t avoid. 

“The way [COVID-19] is transmitted is almost exactly the same way [as the flu] and the same advice I give to people during flu season is what I’m telling them now,” Barron said. 

Wash your hands. 

When you go in and out of your building, it’s impossible to know who else touched the handles and whether or not their hands were clean. 

“Hands, hands, hands. Always,” Barron said. 

Elevators and stairwells are also high-traffic areas in apartment buildings. 

“Getting on an elevator or having to go up stairwells where there may be other people, you’re probably still OK,” she said. 

When riding the elevator, Barron suggests keeping social distancing in mind. 

“The six-foot rule really is a good idea but again, even within the six feet, say you were two feet from someone, it has to be for a period of time and then they have to be coughing or sneezing,” Barron said. 

If you touch anything inside the elevator, including the doors, handrails, walls or buttons, you must wash your hands immediately. 

The same advice goes for shared laundry rooms. 

“From the cleaning standpoint, soap and water will kill this and so if you’re doing your laundry in a normal washing machine and somebody’s work clothes were in there that had coronavirus, it’ll all be clean by the end of it. And when you put your stuff in with soap and the water, it’ll be fine,” Barron said. 

She also suggests going back to your unit to wait for your clothes to finish washing or drying instead of waiting inside the laundry room.

With gyms and fitness centers closed, some apartment residents have taken up solo fitness routines in hallways, stairwells and lobbies. Barron says that is generally safe. 

“You have to have contact with the viral droplets. It’s actually not in sweat,” she said. “You don’t get the flu because you ran by your neighbor because they were running up and down the stairwells or doing push-ups in the hall unless you happen to be rolling on the floor where they were working out and they coughed.” 

Even still, she says when you get inside your apartment from any shared space within the building, you should wash your hands to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

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