[TL-Directors] OHA says quarantining no longer necessary

NIELSEN Buzzy * SLO Buzzy.NIELSEN at slo.oregon.gov
Thu Apr 15 08:15:35 PDT 2021

Library directors,

Several of you have asked whether quarantining of library materials is still necessary in light of recent information<https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/science-and-research/surface-transmission.html> released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). This information suggests that surface transmission of the COVID-19 virus is even less likely than previously thought. We reached out to Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Ali Hamade to find out their thoughts on quarantining practices. I've copied the full-text of their response below (emphasis added).

OHA finds that no quarantine of library materials is necessary. Surface transmission is not a significant mode of COVID-19 transmission in the case of library materials due to the very low chance that there will be enough viable viruses on the materials from the previous user, if at all. This is in addition to the natural lag, in most cases, between return and release of materials that would further reduce the risk of transmission.

However, library staff should

1.       avoid touching their faces with unwashed hands after handling returned materials,

2.       wear a face mask at work,

3.       exercise physical distancing according to library guidelines, and

4.       clean or quarantine an item that has obvious signs of contamination.

We wanted to get you this information quickly so that you can consider making operational changes. We plan to integrate this new recommendation into our official advice for the library sector<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/ld.php?content_id=59410902> and the library section<https://www.oregon.gov/ode/students-and-family/healthsafety/Documents/Library%20Additional%20Considerations.pdf> of the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance for the K-12 sector. However, we are awaiting more information that may affect other areas of the guidance, such as youth programming. The updated guidance will come out as soon as we have that updated information.

Also of interest, the CDC updated their recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting<https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html>. In particular the CDC notes:

"When no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove virus that may be on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility."

There are more helpful details on cleaning in the recommendations linked above.

I hope that this information and updated guidance from OHA helps you simplify some of your pandemic procedures and practices! As always, more information is available on our COVID-19 guide for libraries<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/coronavirus/>. Please let me know if I can answer any questions.

Stay safe, stay healthy,

Buzzy Nielsen, MPP, MSI (he/him/his)
Program Manager, Library Support & Development Services
State Library of Oregon
bnielsen at slo.oregon.gov | 971-375-3486
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