COVID-19 Bulletin #1 – March 8, 2020

Please Note: If you, a member of your team, or a visitor to your company has been presumed positive or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and has been to a CIC location, please notify us immediately at

Last Updated: March 16, 2020


We are reaching out to provide you an update on the COVID-19 situation, to share what we are doing to promote health and safety at CIC, and to share the health steps recommended by the organizations we look to for guidance: the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  As a member of our community, we plan to provide you with regular updates as this develops.

This developing situation is unusual, and it requires all of our close attention. We recognize that you are likely being inundated by COVID-19 information.  Some of you have already done your own research. If you read nothing else, please review the below bullet-points. We have provided a lot of information appended to this email for those who want to dig deeper, or learn about how CIC is responding. 

To keep our communities around the globe safe and healthy, and to slow 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 authorities and follow their guidance.

  • Consider working from home when feasible, while this unfolds. This is not an ask from CIC. It is subject to your company’s policies.

  • Take your temperature before coming to work

  • 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  

  • Eliminate your travel when and where possible, including personal travel.  Harvard’s policy on this is: “We strongly urge extreme caution and judgment for [even] your personal domestic travel.”

  • Replace meetings and visits with video; don’t attend large group events. Consider a 10-person cap for in-person meetings.

  • Spread out in your workspace.

  • Touch things less. Avoid shaking hands. Use a knuckle to call elevators.

Again, wash your hands especially after touching public surfaces (e.g., subway car handholds). This is the WHO recommended method.

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 CIC’s recommendations, keep in mind each company at CIC will make its own official decisions and rules.  We encourage you to be in touch with your leadership if you have questions about what is appropriate.

This note is not confidential and you are welcome to share as you wish.

Thank you,

Tim Rowe

Founder and CEO, CIC



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. 


Our goal is to help the entire CIC community – staff, clients, family, and friends – stay safe and healthy. Specifically, we want to reduce the impact of anyone who comes to CIC who is a COVID-19 carrier.

For each site, we are in the coming days: 

  • Encouraging everyone to follow the protocols outlined above

  • Modifying our facilities to be as “touch-free” as possible 

  • Working with you to spread out in your workspace.  Neither the CDC nor WHO recommend a specific distance for workplaces, however, the CDC indicates that person-to-person infections are related to proximity within 6ft (2m).  Spreading out will be more possible as some people choose to work from home. CIC may be able to help you with creative options.

  • Implementing a “COVID-19 Wellness Station” at main entrances to our facilities where we will ask everyone to gel their hands as they come in

See additional steps CIC is taking to prioritize the safety and health of our community, as of March 15, 2020: “Limited Operations Mode”
and “More Actions”


We have cancelled all tours with people coming from CDC Level 2 and 3 countries.

All Venture Cafés have suspended in-person gatherings and are moving to a digital format. They are experiencing high virtual attendance and like this interim approach.

We are encouraging all planned future group meeting and event hosts to delay or cancel larger, in-person gatherings. For those groups over 25 people who do wish to go forward, we will require they employ an attendee screening function (discuss with your local CIC Events team).

If your company doesn’t have sufficient video collaboration tools, note that Google has made their enterprise-level video collaboration tools completely free until July. This could be an opportunity to learn new ways to work.  

Below is a more detailed and developing list of many more actions CIC is taking on an operational level. These will roll out progressively.  Please don’t hesitate to share your ideas and suggestions with us. Be assured we will continue our efforts to adapt the CIC work environment to this evolving situation.

We have appended additional information below which you may find helpful.

Added below section on March 12, 2020 to fully outline our events policy.

NOTE: as of March 16, 2020 and in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19, CIC is exercising an abundance of caution as we’ve decided to cancel all events booked in our spaces through the end of April.


We are limiting the potential risks associated with large gatherings and events by introducing the following measures:

  1. We encourage any upcoming events to either postpone or shift to a remote event experience. We are ready to help support the shift to a remote event with the necessary hardware (including cameras), recommendations for live streaming platforms, and advice for how to tie it all together.

  2. To avoid creating densely packed environments, we have shifted the setup in our event spaces and are not supporting structured networking elements at events. These revisions are in response to the CDC-recommended 6 foot rule between each participant.

  3. At any gathering and for groups with more than 25 people, we require that you employ an attendee screening function (discuss with your local CIC Events team).



  • Performing multiple cleanings of common-area surfaces and high-traffic areas throughout the day

  • Switching temporarily to disposable plates/cups/cutlery in all kitchens 

  • Installing footpulls in restrooms and other pull doors where possible so people needn’t use their hands to open the main doors (they are on order)

  • Ordering anti-microbial grips for public doors (conference rooms, phone booths, bathrooms, fridges etc.)

  • Installing additional hand sanitizer dispensers outside restrooms, in event spaces, in building lobbies, in kitchens, etc.

  • Pausing the provision of bulk food items with potential for cross-contamination

  • Stopping the sharing of left-over food items in the kitchens

  • Pausing CIC-hosted lunch catering in common kitchens

  • Pausing CIC-hosted community group events

  • Supporting remote event participation by offering more reservable live-streaming cameras in event spaces to enable minimal in-person presence paired with increased video participation

  • Deploying more in-conference-room video systems worldwide

Added below section on March 12, 2020 to detail our cleaning regimen in response to COVID-19.

New cleaning regimen

Our new, more specific cleaning regimen is defined!  Our cleaning teams will, multiple times per day, disinfect the following:

  • All common spaces (e.g., Concierge area, elevator lobbies, bathrooms, copy centers, conference rooms, kitchens)

  • Cabinet handles

  • Fridge handles

  • Stair railings

  • Light switches

  • Counter tops

  • Door handles and push bars

  • Badge readers

  • Phones

  • Microwaves

  • Utensil dispensers

  • Printers and printer stations

  • Tables

  • Shower room

  • iPads

  • Elevator buttons

  • Water fountains


  • 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 Member Bulletin


We asked our Japan team to share with us some of the steps that businesses are doing there now to ensure safety.  Japan is 2-3 weeks ahead of most of our cities and can give us a clue as to “what is to come.” We presume some of these measures will become common outside Japan in the next few weeks:

  • The government has requested all primary and high schools to shut down

  • The government has requested large-scale events to consider canceling or postponing

  • Starting two weeks ago, many companies have set the guideline to mostly work from home, while not prohibiting coming to the office

  • A small portion of companies have banned going to the office and physical meetings

  • Many companies have banned meetings over 10 people and are postponing non-urgent meetings to later weeks

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government earlier this week started fever (forehead temperature) screening for all visitors coming into its office building, and health clubs, for instance, are generally doing the same

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