COVID-19 Update -- January 7, 2021January 7, 2021
As the state of Illinois proceeds through
the Restore Illinois plan, with its tiered mitigations, phases of re-opening, and eleven regions around the state, we are aware that library boards and directors are looking for guidance on how best to serve our communities. On November 19, ILA shared information from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, regarding Tier 3 mitigations that had been announced by Governor Pritzker. Just yesterday, Governor Pritzker noted that some regions of the state may be about to emerge from these mitigations.
Earlier in 2020, ILA issued two statements, one in March about whether or not to close library buildings to public service; the second in May, about what to consider when re-opening to public service. The first stated, in part, "Ultimately, barring a government mandate, the decision to close must be made at the local level; ILA also recommends that every library monitor the guidance issued from the Illinois Department of Public Health." To date, there has not been a government mandate regarding libraries.
The May one stated, in part, "ILA reaffirms the critical role library workers play in our communities. Safety and support for library workers is key when making plans to reopen to public services" and outlined issues to consider including need for PPE, capacity of area medical facilities, and more.
ILA continues to maintain these positions. We are aware that libraries across the state differ in approach, depending on the situation in different communities. We recognize the desire for state guidance on matters including materials quarantine, closure to in-person public services, and more; we also know Illinois libraries continue to place great importance on having local control.
HR Source is hosting a webinar ($25 for members, $50 for nonmembers) on January 28, 2021, regarding employment law and vaccines, "The COVID-19 Vaccine: Employer Options." Of course, libraries will have at least one additional concern about vaccines beyond their own employees: patrons and what to do regarding mask, spacing, and other requirements once the vaccine becomes widely available. There is some time, likely months, before we reach that stage, but it warrants thinking ahead.
The CDC is making recommendations for phases of vaccine distributions, including
- 1a Health care personnel and long-term care facility residents
- 1b Frontline essential workers and persons aged 75 years and older
- 1c Persons aged 65-74 years, persons aged 16-64 years with high-risk conditions, and essential workers not recommended in Phase 1b
- 2 All people aged 16 years and older not in Phase 1, who are recommended for vaccination
Yesterday, Governor Pritzker updated Illinois' planned phases, which are similar, with the 1b age limit lowered to 65. The Illinois Department of Public Health has not previously explicitly designated library staff as essential workers, but it would be reasonable for library staff to be included in 1c, at least; particularly in communities where libraries have responded to public demand for in-person services.