Several Digital Realty data centers were disinfected after individuals who tested positive with Covid-19 visited three facilities, while another person with the disease entered the same building as a Digital site.

The company sent advisory messages to customers, informing them of the incidents, DCD can confirm. Three of the affected facilities are in New York, which has become the center of great concern; Governor Andrew Cuomo said the disease was spreading "faster than a bullet train" after New York State confirmed 25,000 cases (BBC) and at least 210 deaths.

Continuity managed

60 Hudson Street
60 Hudson St – Jim Henderson

"An individual who last worked in two of our New York City data center locations on the 16th of March has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. A site advisory was sent out to customers on March 23rd. We have completed a full disinfection procedure for all common areas at our facilities at both sites (60 Hudson St and 32 Avenue of the Americas)," Digital Realty's comms director, Marc Musgrove, told DCD.

"Additionally, an individual who last worked in one of our New Jersey locations on March 18th has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. We notified customers on March 23rd and completed a full disinfection procedure for all common areas at our facilities at 2 Peekay Drive. In both cases, we are back to normal operations, with a rotational staffing schedule in place at these sites.

"We were also informed by building management at 111 8th Avenue that a visitor to a non-Digital Realty floor tested positive. We have completed a full disinfection procedure of our common areas. No sites have reported any outage related to Covid-19."

It is not clear which floor at 111 8th Avenue was visited by the unwitting carrier, but the Google-owned carrier hotel is home to multiple data centers, including Equinix, Telx, and Zayo. If you have more information, you can let us know anonymously by email here.

Digital Realty said that all potentially impacted sites had returned to normal operations. The company's website states that its cleaning protocol for Covid-19 includes a 24 hour evacuation, followed by a full building disinfection in all common areas and any areas operated by the company. "Digital Realty will not be providing cleaning services in customer leased premises unless required per the lease and would not clean any customer equipment in the computer rooms," the site highlights.

"If the CDC or other city or state authority guidelines require additional cleaning to be completed in a customer space, that Digital is not responsible for cleaning per the lease, or the customer would like such spaces to be cleaned, Digital Realty would refer an industrial hygienist to work directly with the customer to develop the scope of work, and refer qualified cleaning vendors to complete the required cleaning to streamline the entire process."

The website also states that, "unless directed by government or health agency authorities, a facility will never be fully closed and all permanent badge holders and access readers will remain “on” at all times even if we request an evacuation for cleaning."

The company has yet to follow Equinix in the drastic decision to ban contractors and customers from data centers in four countries, however, it is discouraging visits and reducing personnel on site.

"We are directing any personnel, vendors or visitors to not visit any Digital Realty facility if feeling any cold or flu-like symptoms or have any immediate family members who have been diagnosed with Covid-19," Musgrove said. "We are asking all customers, employees, partners and contract staff to proactively practice proper social distancing, increase personal hygiene and to reduce on-site staff to essential personnel only and limit to critical work exclusively.

"All sites have also commenced implementing staged staffing scheduling to improve employees' ability to maintain recommended social distancing protocols, and reduce the likelihood of inter-employee transmission." These measures are in line with the recommendations recently published by the Uptime Institute.

Musgrove said that, where allowed by local authorities and security partners, Digital Realty sites in APAC (Hong Kong and Singapore) "will continue temperature screening using heat monitoring technologies of all individuals entering the facility. Any individual with a temperature exceeding 99.5°F (37.5°C), will be denied access to the facility.

"For sites outside Hong Kong and Singapore, we will continue with verbal screening of all persons requesting entry at all Digital Realty facilities."

As for future data center projects, Digital Realty said that currently no construction projects have been delayed. "We are working closely with our construction partners to ensure that projects remain fully on track," Musgrove said. This week, Facebook confirmed work has been paused on an Irish data center expansion due to contractors exhibiting flu-like symptoms.