COVID-19 Response at Artisan’s Asylum

DATE:  March 9, 2020     CATEGORIES:  Blog, News

With thanks to the Cambridge Innovation Center for their guidance and support on this, Artisan’s is providing a community update on the COVID-19 situation, to share what Artisan’s is doing to promote health and safety, and to share the health steps recommended by the organizations I have looked to for guidance: the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

This developing situation requires our close attention. If you read nothing else, please review the following bullet-points.

To keep our community safe and healthy, and to play a small part in slowing the spread of this disease, we encourage you to follow these best practices: 

  • Tell us immediately if you are diagnosed with COVID-19. We will report to health authorities and follow their guidance.
  • Stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days if you are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath; after you return from an outbreak country; or if you have had close contact with someone with a presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19
  • Go home immediately if you develop the above symptoms during the day
  • Wash your hands several times a day, and avoid touching your face; if you must cough, use a tissue  

Again, wash your hands especially after touching public surfaces (e.g., subway car handholds). We have provided antibacterial treatments in the following ways:

  • Hand sanitizer at the front desk, in the social area, E&R and at the safety station in the Building 13 hallway
  • Sanitizing wipes in the shops to swab down tool handles and commonly used shop surfaces

Here is further information:

For handwashing, this is the WHO recommended method. If you could use a little humor right now, here is a light-hearted take on it out of Vietnam.

The WHO recommends staying home with even a low-grade fever, of 37.3C (99.14F) or higher, or if you are on fever-reducing medications (e.g. ibuprofen, acetaminophen).

While the above are the Asylum’s recommendations, keep in mind each member will make your own official decisions and rules. I encourage you to be in touch with your workplace and other community organizations with which you participate if you have additional questions about what is appropriate.

What’s the latest on COVID-19?

A lot is not yet fully known yet about COVID-19, but the WHO Director’s take, as quoted in the New York Times March 6, is striking:

“This is not a drill,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. “This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”

The situation is evolving quickly. The number of confirmed cases in your area does not tell the full story. For instance, we had only one confirmed case in Massachusetts two weeks ago. At that same time, a nearby biotech held a 175-person leadership meeting. Now 9 cases have been identified in that group, and the company has closed its offices worldwide, sending 7,400 employees home.  Similar situations have come to light from other large meetings as far back as two weeks ago.

Some experts project a potential slowing of the illness with warmer weather. If so, delaying its spread will be a boon to everyone.  Until we know more, we are asking you to follow these protocols as best you can. 

What Is Artisan’s Doing to Promote Health and Safety?

Our goal is to help the Artisan’s community – staff, members, visitors and family – stay safe and healthy. Specifically, we want to reduce the impact of anyone who comes to Artisan’s who is a COVID-19 carrier.

In the coming days we are: 

  • Encouraging everyone to follow the protocols outlined above
  • Providing our facilities with as much sanitation support as possible (temporary antibacterial dispensers; permanent ones are on back-order)

Tours, events and meetings

  • We are maintaining our public tour schedule for the time being. 
  • Public events will continue as scheduled for the time being; we will keep this updated as the CDC reports best practice and partners implement precautionary action.
  • Classes will continue; we will temporarily suspend our cancelation policy to ensure flexibility in our responsiveness to updated information.  

Additional Artisan’s Actions in Response

Facility and Operations

  • Performing daily wipe-downs of common-area surfaces and high-traffic areas throughout the day.
  • Temporarily suspending the purchase of shared food items such as pizza.
  • Placing and (if we can get out hands on them) installing hand sanitizer dispensers outside restrooms, in common spaces, in building lobbies, in kitchens, etc.
  • Ask that you not share food items and cutlery; we recommend using personal or disposable bowls, plates, cups etc.


  • Posting signs in restrooms, shower and kitchens urging regular hand washing
  • Posting signs near water machines to reduce cross contamination
  • Adding a tutorial on handwashing in the March community email