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We’re Here for You

Last month I started by noting the “interesting times” we are living in thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but by now we are realizing that the virus is putting us on a road toward a new normal. I am writing this in mid-April, soon after our regional governors (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia) extended their stay-at-home orders, and I am well into the second full week of teleworking. In simple terms, I read and write for a living, and I realize how extremely fortunate I am to have a job that allows me to easily work from home.

    

But many aren’t as fortunate as I am. With all due respect to first responders, truck drivers, grocery store workers, medical professionals and all the people you see interviewed on the news, I don’t think construction is getting the media coverage it deserves. I am hearing from our members that essential construction jobs continue, but they are difficult to work due to social distancing requirements. Also, as President Brinkerhoff said in her message on the previous page, many essential construction workers don’t have enough, if any, PPE. But wall and ceiling contractors who don’t have essential jobs are laying off workers. Those laid-off workers could benefit those companies looking for skilled people, but hiring them and maintaining safe distances could lead to overcrowding on site.

    

We will address some of these issues in our June issue, but this May issue is not lacking. Start on page 24 to review an article that provides quick references to a variety of online sources for information regarding the pandemic and its effect on our industry. AWCI partners, government and regulatory agencies, legal firms and industry trade associations are available to help you find the construction-specific and small-business–specific information you seek. President Brinkerhoff also talked about AWCI’s COVID-19 Resource Center, initiated at the end of March, and more details about it are in this article.

    

Then it’s on to page 32 for advice from a construction lawyer on how contractors can mitigate potential harm to people and projects during the virus outbreak. Contract force majeure, suspension rights infection control improvements on the job site are highlighted. Contract language and dealing with insurance brokers and lenders are also discussed.

    

Page 38 begins an article on hiring and compensation strategies—a subject that was extremely relevant prior to the onset of the virus. While it may not apply to everyone right now, as I mentioned earlier, many companies continue to work on essential building projects. They are looking to hire. And if this does not apply to your situation right now, bookmark it for when things turn around, which will happen soon, I hope.

    

Until that happens, we will continue to wonder what sports will look like when it returns. No crowds allowed? What about restaurants? Will masks be required? (How do you eat while wearing a facemask?) I ask the same questions, but my big worry is that I won’t be able to restock my dwindling toilet paper supply. Priorities!

    

One thing you don’t have to ask or worry about is AWCI. We’ve been around for more than 100 years, and we’re not going anywhere. Our history shows we have the staying power we do because we are a trade association that gives its members what they want. Together, We Are AWCI. And we’re here for you.

    

Stay healthy!

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