Can I Get Coronavirus If I Stay In My Apartment?

With over 40 million Americans making their homes in apartment buildings, and with the coronavirus canvassing the country, we want to address the question of whether you can get the coronavirus if you just stay in your apartment. 

If you follow the Detailed Guidance provided by the CDC, there is little to no risk of contracting the coronavirus if you stay self-isolated in your apartment.

The coronavirus is spread primarily through contact with someone else’s bodily fluid that has been left by a sneeze or a cough.  Because it is a respiratory disease, that means that it is most readily transmitted through the respiratory droplets from someone else’s respiratory system. 

This means that you have to be in pretty close proximity to the other person to get the virus. 

The infectious disease experts have said that as long as people practice self-quarantine and social distancing, that there is virtually no chance that the virus can be spread from one unit of an apartment building to another.  

The CDC says that there is little to be concerned about if you are worried that the virus would travel through the air vents from one apartment to another.  

That doesn’t mean that there is zero risk at an apartment building, however.  You have things like doors and knobs and buttons that are being handled constantly by dozens if not hundreds of people a day.  And it only takes one person being careless in their own personal lives to unknowingly pass it to countless other people. 

We are going to go through the things you need to do if you live in an apartment to stay safe from the Coronavirus.  

How Can I Avoid Coronavirus In My Apartment?

If you are serious about not contracting the Coronavirus, there are some important things about your daily routine and habits that you MUST change to keep yourself safe.  

Remember, YOU may be taking the appropriate precautions, but you have NO IDEA what anyone else you come in to contact with just did the past half hour, or day, or week, so you MUST take on the responsibility of keeping your apartment, yourself, and your family safe. 

This falls on everyone as a personal responsibility to themselves first, and other people next. 

Limit Your Time Outside Of Your Apartment – This is easily going to be one of the hardest things to do as this pandemic drags on.  And that’s not to say that you can NEVER go outside, but the more you stay inside, the more you can control your environment, which means minimizing the chance that you will get the virus at all. 

Part of limiting time outside of your apartment means that conversations usually done in the hallways and stairwells or even at a neighbor’s apartment unit need to be done over the phone, on FaceTime, or even Zoom. 

Some people have even started the novel idea of just going out on their balconies and talking from 12 feet away to their neighbors to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.  

Yes, it is annoying, and people are going to get cabin fever, but cabin fever is better than a ventilator! 

When you DO go outside your apartment to take a walk or get the dog some exercise, make sure you are obeying the social distancing guidelines.  Keep other people from petting your dog, and make sure you aren’t passing people too close on your favorite trail.

There will be time to get back to doing all of these things, but right now is NOT the time to be doing this.  

Sanitize Everything – The Center For Biocide Chemistries has compiled a list of all products that have been approved by the EPA for use against emerging viral pathogens.  This is the entire list of products that you can use during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.  


The CDC also recommends that you frequently, meaning daily, clean all those surfaces in your home or apartment that are touched frequently.  These things would be items like tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles.   

These are things that are smooth and non-porous and if the virus gets on them, can survive for a long period of time.  More than enough time to infect someone else if the surface isn’t cleaned beforehand.  

The CDC said to use regular detergent and water to clean these surfaces, but any of the products that are listed HERE will also work to sterilize those surfaces adequately. 

Don’t Touch It If You Don’t Have To – There are so many things that are touched on a daily basis by tenants all over the building. From the doorknobs and buzzers on the outside of the apartment building, to the knobs or latches on their own doors, to things you wouldn’t think of at first like the vending machines or laundry machines.  

With more and more people staying at home to work or just shelter at home, those things that are easy to access at your apartment building have the probability of being touched even more.

Things like the laundry machines and the vending machines, and especially the doorknobs on the outside of the building are going to be used even more than normal.  

Use your knuckles, elbows, feet, and shoulders if you can in order to get things open.  Even if you use your knuckles though, you need to wash your hands when you get back inside before you touch your face or anything else.  Using your shoulder, elbow, or feet is going to be your best bet when you can swing it. 

This means that elevator buttons are no longer going to be pushed by your index finger anymore, but with your knuckle or elbow to get to your floor.   

The CDC’s guidelines for keeping tenants safe in their apartments include the following……

  • Avoid Touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing and sneezing
  • Wash your hands well and often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching surfaces that are frequently touched by others.  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol. You can also access the list of all the approved cleaning products HERE.
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid contact with sick people

Doing these things are going to be the different as to whether you end up contracting the virus or not.  

How To Interact With My Neighbors In My Apartment Building

All interactions during the pandemic should be done literally at arms distance during the time that we are under the social distancing guidelines.  

If you still want to have communication with your favorite neighbor, consider using technology and downloading an app like ZOOM or FaceTime if you both have Apple Phones.  

You can also talk across your balconies or porches in an effort to keep being human and avoid the worst of cabin fever during this difficult time.  

But any of the social interaction you can voluntarily avoid is absolutely something that you should be doing right now, as hard as that is to do. 

Just remember that everybody is in the same situation right now, so just know that you have a lot of people that are going to be empathizing with you! 

How To Handle Repair Requests In My Apartment During The Coronavirus

Only ask your maintenance guy to perform repairs in your apartment that are absolutely necessary. Inconveniences doesn’t mean they are emergencies that need to be handled immediately. Use common sense when submitting a request in. 

There are always faucets to tighten up that drip, reset a toilet seat, or replace some lightbulbs or something else trivial that my maintenance guy gets requests for all the time.  

As long as there are guidelines in place to practice social distancing, you will want to limit your contact with your maintenance guy as well. If it is something trivial, just wait to have it fixed.  

Especially if it is not causing any further active damage to the apartment and isn’t causing you a health hazard.  

Obviously, an emergency is an emergency, and you will no doubt know what that looks like when you see it.  

Just think about it before you submit a request. 

You are going to have your maintenance guy come in your apartment and work there after he has just gotten done with going to 100 other apartments doing the same thing for the past 2 weeks.

Not to throw shade on the maintenance guy, they are absolutely necessary and the lifeblood of my own complex, but is this the guy you really want to be inviting over to your apartment willingly right now? 

Both you AND the maintenance guy would appreciate it if you only called for legitimate emergencies for the time being. 

You can keep perfectly safe in your apartment if you follow the guidelines put out by the CDC to stay safe in apartment buildings.  Make sure to keep practicing social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and try to avoid touching anything you don’t have to, especially with your fingers.   

Remember, the virus cannot just be spread throughout the vent systems in your building.  You have to be close to someone else to contract it or touch the same thing that an infected person touched recently.  

By obeying the guidelines put out by the CDC, you can absolutely stay safe in your apartment during this time!

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John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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