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Shelter-in-place orders, social distancing, working from home, and other epidemic response guidelines implemented on the Federal, State, and local levels can result in secondary issues in commercial buildings that may have been vacant or minimally occupied for extended periods of time (i.e., more than a few days).
As these orders are gradually lifted, businesses come back online, and workers begin to return to work, it is critical that building-related issues be identified and addressed to ensure the continued health and safety of people who begin to reoccupy these spaces.
One issue that should be considered prior to re-opening a building for occupancy is potable and non-potable water stagnation. Reduced or minimal usage of water systems during periods of low occupancy can lead to water stagnation or lack of flow. Water stagnation can create issues with water quality including microbial growth of organisms like Legionella and Pseudomonas, leaching of lead and other metals, and build-up of particulate or sediment.
The CDC has issued guidelines for bringing buildings back online after a prolonged shutdown. The CDC outlines 8 Steps to take before your business or building reopens.
More details on these steps are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.