2/18/2021 Delivery Update: IHLS Delivery Quarantine Time to Reduce to 48 Hours

Published 2/18/2021 12:40 PM CT; Updated 2/18/2021 1:02 PM CT

Illinois Heartland Library System and the IHLS Delivery Working Group are pleased to announce that we are reducing the IHLS quarantine time for interlibrary delivery from 72 hours (3 days) to 48 hours (2 days) beginning Monday, Feb. 22. We will continue to quarantine these items within our hubs.

Please remember that IHLS's 48-hour quarantine applies only to materials transferred by IHLS and is in place to protect IHLS staff. It is up to your library as to whether and when to use a quarantine period as part of your library's mitigation strategies. (See the graphic below for an illustration of the interlibrary loan process and when IHLS and other libraries' quarantine policies apply.)

Our Delivery Working Group convenes on a regular basis to re-review and discuss the newest available scientific information and pandemic and delivery-related library issues. If you'd like to learn more about the decision to move to 48 hours, please read the Why 48 Hours? section below

IHLS staff members will continue to practice the safety procedures outlined in the COVID-19 Guidelines for Safe IHLS Delivery Service During the COVID-19 Pandemic, including regular handwashing breaks, disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and requiring masks for IHLS staff when around people or library materials. If you have any questions about the quarantine time and procedures or our in-house practices, please contact your Delivery hub manager. For more information on staff protocols and our commitment to a safe working environment, please see our Staff COVID Protocols on our Policies page.

Thank you to our member libraries for your continued support.

Why 48 Hours?

The IHLS Delivery Working Group convenes on a regular basis to re-review and discuss the newest available scientific information and pandemic issues libraries are facing. After considering options including remaining with a 72-hour (3-day) quarantine, moving to a 48-hour (2-day) quarantine, or moving to a 24-hour (1-day) quarantine, the Working Group decided on the 48-hour time period.

According to current research from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus usually spreads in one of two ways: from person to person in close contact with each other (within six feet) and through airborne transmission (where the virus lingers in the air and is contracted at longer distances, after a period of time, or both). While the CDC believes it to be uncommon, it is also possible to spread coronavirus through touching infected surfaces and then touching one's eyes, nose, or mouth (CDC, IDPH, WHO). However, easy mitigation strategies have been shown to prevent coronavirus spread and COVID-19 infection, including disinfecting surfaces, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching one's eyes, nose, or mouth. In other words, it is easier to prevent surface-based spread of coronavirus.

IHLS staff has been implementing these practices since last summer by scheduling regular handwashing breaks for sorters, disinfecting high-touch surfaces including tub handles, and requiring masks for IHLS staff when around people or library materials. Our full procedures are outlined in COVID-19 Guidelines for Safe IHLS Delivery Service During the COVID-19 Pandemic on our website. (See also: Staff COVID Protocols.) Therefore, the IHLS and member-library staff who make up the IHLS Delivery Working Group believe it is reasonable and safe to reduce IHLS’s in-house quarantine from 72 hours to 48 hours.

In an abundance of caution, the IHLS Delivery Working Group has decided not to reduce the quarantine period below 48 hours at this time.


Partial List of Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID-19 (CDC)

How COVID-19 Spreads 

Illinois Department of Public Health: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

State of Illinois Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response (Illinois Department of Public Health)

Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets? (Mayo Clinic, 13 Oct. 2020)

COVID-19 rarely spreads through surfaces. So why are we still deep cleaning? (29 Jan. 2021, Nature)

Systematic Literature Review of SARS-CoV-2: Spread, Environmental Attenuation, Prevention, and Decontamination: Phase 2 – Gap Analysis – Mid-May 2020 to August 14, 2020 (REALM Project, OCLC/IMLS/Battelle, 12 Oct. 2020)

Also see: Phase 2 - Systematic Literature Review: Key Takeaways from the Review  

REALM Project Lab Testing (REALM Project, OCLC/IMLS/Battelle)

Updated Advice on Handling Library Materials during COVID-19 Pandemic (Oregon Health Authority, 5 Oct. 2020)

Exaggerated Risk of Transmission of COVID-19 by Fomites (The Lancet: Infectious Diseases, New Jersey Medical School - Rutgers University, corrected version published 30 July 2020)

It’s Time to Talk About Covid-19 and Surfaces Again (WIRED, 20 Oct. 2020)