Coronavirus (COVID -19)

News and Updates | State LevelFederal Level

Guidelines for Reopening Libraries | Best Practices for Libraries Learning Opportunities

Legal Information (for OLC Institutional Member Libraries only)

The situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is evolving daily. Please see updates below. The OLC is continuing to monitor the latest information related to COVID-19 and is working with Governor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) – Public Library Assistance Program:

Battelle Research Update:

  • Round 1 test results show virus undetectable on common library materials after three days.
  • Round 2 test results indicate that a longer quarantine time for certain types of paper materials, such as magazines and Children’s board books, may be required.
  • Round 3 test results show that a slightly longer quarantine time for plastic-based materials may be required.
  • Round 4 test results show that stacking items keeps the virus alive on materials longer than if they are unstacked.

Best Practices in light of COVID-19:

Best Practices and Roadmap for Reopening Ohio’s Public Libraries

PPE for Libraries (OLC’s Group Purchasing Program)

OLC is encouraging all of its members to take this opportunity to highlight your digital resources, WiFi capabilities, reference services by phone or email, etc. A number of these resources are highlighted on the OLC website.

Survey Results – Ohio Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Crisis

State Level: 

UPDATE 7/29/20:  Gov. Mike DeWine released an updated travel advisory. Those entering Ohio after travel to states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher for COVID-19 are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. Ohio’s Travel Advisory will be updated every Wednesday.

UPDATE 7/22/20:  Effective July 23 at 6 p.m., ALL counties in Ohio will be required to wear facial coverings while out in public.

UPDATE: 7/7/20: Effective July 8, at 6 p.m., a new Ohio Department of Health (ODH) order will mandate face coverings in public in all counties that are designated as a Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency or a Purple Alert Level 4 Public Health Emergency.

UPDATE: 7/2/20: Gov. DeWine announced a public health alert system aimed at assessing the coronavirus spread in each county of the state. Details are available on the OLC website.

UPDATE: 6/11/20: Gov. DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton will step down as director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and begin serving as his chief health advisor effective at the end of business June 11. Lance Himes, who previously served as ODH’s director, was named interim-director.

UPDATE: 6/5/20: Gov. DeWine provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced new opening dates established as part of the Responsible RestartOhio plan. Entertainment venues, including movie theaters, museums and public recreation centers, may open June 10 if they are able to follow the Retail, Consumer, Service & Entertainment Guidelines and other applicable additional guidance. Casinos and amusement parks are permitted to reopen on June 19 if they are able to follow certain guidelines.

UPDATE 5/29/20: Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Amy Acton signed an order continuing the ban on most mass gatherings through July 1. The order extends one of the last major coronavirus restrictions still in place: a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people outside of a single household. The ban contains numerous exceptions, including religious services, free-speech demonstrations, funerals, and weddings (as well as wedding receptions of up to 300 people starting June 1).

UPDATE 5/20/20: The new “Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory” replaces the Stay Safe Ohio Order that was issued by ODH on April 30, 2020. The health order replaces language requiring Ohioans to stay at home with limited exceptions with language that strongly recommends that citizens, especially those who are high-risk, stay at home as much as possible. The order does not change the mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit. The new health advisory also lifts overall travel restrictions and the requirement to quarantine if someone travels to or returns to Ohio. Unnecessary travel within or outside of Ohio is not encouraged.

UPDATE 5/14/20: Gov. DeWine announced more plans for reopening Ohio, including day care centers, gyms, campgrounds, and public pools.

UPDATE 5/1/20: Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officially issued the Stay Safe Ohio order, which replaces the previous stay-at-home order and includes details on scheduled reopening of businesses. It goes into effect at 12 a.m. Sat., May 2.

UPDATE 4/27/20: Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled plans for Ohio’s partial reopening. The state’s Responsible RestartOhio plan aims to get people back to work as well as protect the health of employees and customers. A summary of the plan and protocols are available on the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) website.

UPDATE 4/20/20: Gov. DeWine announced that Ohio’s K-12 schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year.

Ohio recovery graphicUPDATE 4/16/20: Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton announced that beginning May 1st, the state will begin a phased-in reopening of the economy. As Ohio begins to reopen, Gov. DeWine stressed the need to balance:

  • Compliance with public health measures;
  • Implementation of safeguards in business; and
  • Protections for the most vulnerable Ohioans.

UPDATE 4/02/20: Gov. DeWine has extended the stay-at-home order until May 1. Based on the Intent of the Order expressed in #16 and the Information for Employers in #19, OLC is continuing to encourage public libraries to keep their facilities closed to the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

UPDATE 3/27/20: Emergency Legislation
Summary of emergency legislation (House Bill 197) passed unanimously by the Ohio Legislature and signed by Gov. DeWine on March 27, 2020.

Decisions and Executive Orders
Gov. Mike DeWine has provided the following updates on Ohio’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ohio Department of Health website
Translated resources can be accessed through the “Language Translation” tab at the top, left of the webpage.

ODH Coronavirus Hotline: 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634)
[Callers can press option 2 and leave their contact information and a bilingual member will call them back]

Multilingual COVID-19 precautions/resource sign (PDF)

Ohio’s COVID-19 Dashboard
Number of cases by county of residence.

Ohio Public Health Advisory System
Provides Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of the problem in the counties in which they live.

Libraries Can Help Prevent Panic
Public libraries can help prevent panic, provide accurate information, and quell rumors and misinformation about the virus. The ODH website has a number of resources available, including a new FAQ fact sheet that you can share on your library’s website and social media pages.

Libraries Should Work with Local Health Districts
The OLC is encouraging libraries to continue to work with their county health departments who have the most up-to-date information for your local community.

UPDATE 7/22/20: OLC Updates Best Practices guide.

UPDATE 5/2/20: OLC Issues Roadmap and Best Practices for Reopening Ohio’s Public Libraries

UPDATE 3/19/20:  OLC Board Recommends Libraries Close Temporarily

Federal Level:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website
Official site for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

UPDATE 4/3/20: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people wear cloth or fabric face coverings, which can be made at home, when entering public spaces such as grocery stores and public transit stations.
White House, CDC and FEMA website

ODH Recommendations

UPDATE 5/22/20: ODH has created COVID-19 signage and health screening questions for use with customers. The posters and signs are available for download. Responsbile RestartOhio posters and signs

UPDATE 4/27/20: ODH lists responsible protocols for reopening business. See also OLC outline/roadmap for reopening.

UPDATE 4/13/20: ODH Checklist for Safe Food Handling for retail food stores, restaurants, and pick-up and delivery services. This may be helpful as libraries start to plan for reopening and what that may look like.

UPDATE 3/23/20: All of Ohio’s public libraries are now closed to the public. The OLC has put together a list of what is still available to Ohio library cardholders 24/7.

UPDATE 3/19/20: Libraries should consider CLOSING temporarily

  • Increasing space between desk chairs and computers to at least 6 feet – in both public and private areas of the library.
  • Removing children’s toys temporarily.
  • Reviewing policies on returning books and waiving fines (if you still have fines in place).
  • Make sure you have enough cleaning supplies (disinfectant sprays and wipes) on hand, paper products, hand sanitizer.
  • Review your library’s cleaning schedules and procedures.
To Keep Yourself Healthy
ODH advises that people follow the usual recommendations for reducing their risk of infection for other illnesses, such as influenza. These recommendations include:
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick (except to visit a health care professional) and to avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

Ohioans are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation to wear cloth face coverings (masks) in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Employers are encouraged to allow their employees to wear masks as well.  

  • Effective, July 23 at 6 p.m. – residents of ALL counties in Ohio are required to wear a face mask while out in public.
  • ODH Checklist for Face Covering (PDF)

Learning Opportunities for Public Library Staff:

Ohio Library Council webinars:

REALM Project
Earlier this year, IMLS, together with Ohio-based OCLC, Inc. and Battelle, announced a new collaboration to support libraries and museums as they consider safe reopening practices in light of COVID-19. A research project is underway at Battelle to determine the longevity of the virus on books, magazines, newspapers, tapes and other library materials. The goal is to devise best practices for how to handle materials and engage with the public under this new COVID-19 reality.

Public Library Association (PLA)
The Public Library Association’s free webinar series, Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19, is now available on-demand. Library leaders from across the country have shared how their libraries are handling this crisis, supporting staff and community needs during this time, and planning for the future. The following recordings are now available:

American Library Association (ALA)

American Library Association (ALA) COVID-19 Resources for Libraries

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

International Association of Exhibitions and Events