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March 12, 2020:   PLANNING FOR DISRUPTIONS OF LABORATORY OPERATIONS

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PLANNING GUIDANCE

As the University continues to plan and prepare for possible impacts related to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Principal/Senior Investigators and Laboratory Managers should develop plans for the possibility of disruptions to operations caused by absences, or unavailability of equipment, materials or supplies that are essential to assure safe operation.  

Please review the following list of things to consider and take appropriate action as applicable.

LABORATORY OPERATIONS AND COMMUNICATION

Update and post emergency contact information for key personnel (PI, Director of Labs, Building Manager, etc) on laboratory signage

  • Develop an Emergency Communications Plan for all lab personnel
  • Assess duties of key personnel and cross-train others as appropriate
  • Assess critical operations which require active monitoring or management
    • Avoid high-risk procedures/protocols if working alone
  • Unattended experiments should be discouraged
    • If unable to postpone, alternate contacts need to be posted at the fume hood
  • Develop plans for how to secure or suspend ongoing experiments if circumstances warrant it.
    • Shutting down sensitive equipment
    • Securing chemical, biological, and/or radioactive materials  
    • Close sashes on all chemical fume hoods, shut off gas valves, and close and lock laboratory doors before leaving
  • Develop plans for how to create more distance between workers in the lab
    • Plan for the possibility to conduct work remotely if necessary/applicable
    • Ensure staff understand how to use VPN services or are set up with access to shared Google folders for remote access
    • Consider varying work schedules to prevent overcrowding and to limit close contact between personnel
  • Plan for the care and maintenance of research animals
  • Avoid scheduling large meetings
  • Consider putting any new experiments on temporary hiatus
    • Single-use kits can be costly – assess whether there may be interruptions to an experiment rendering the kit useless  

MATERIAL AND EQUIPMENT

  • Develop a plan for possible interruptions in supply and delivery of gases
  • Ensure there is an adequate supply of dry ice / liquid nitrogen for critical samples
  • Ensure adequate materials on hand to maintain cell cultures
  • If Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as respirators, gloves, lab coats, etc., are required for normal lab operations, ensure that an adequate supply is available. Respirators in particular are becoming harder to obtain
    • NOTE: IF THERE IS AN INADEQUATE SUPPLY OF PPE THAT IS REQUIRED TO PERFORM EXPERIMENTS, THEY SHOULD BE SUSPENDED UNTIL SUPPLIES ARE AVAILABLE.
  • Maintain an adequate supply of laboratory cleaners and appropriate disinfectants, as necessary
  • Core facilities and services may also be experiencing staffing issues, plan accordingly  

HEALTH AND HYGIENE

The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, including after removing gloves, before leaving the laboratory, and after coughing or sneezing
  • Hand sanitizers are not a substitute for good hand washing practices but can be used when hand washing is not practical
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hand
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home while you’re sick and limit close contact with others
  • Cover up your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
    •  Coughing/sneezing should be done into the crook of the elbow or tissue, which should be disposed of immediately
  • Keep things clean in your living space to avoid spreading the virus
  • Inform all staff if they have a fever, do not attend class or come to work. If they are experiencing any symptoms, please seek medical attention right away. They should call their healthcare provider first to alert them of their recent travel history and/or symptoms.
    • If they’re a student, they can make an appointment at Student Health; just call ahead at 631-632-6740 so they’re ready.
  • Implement a program to disinfect common surfaces and touch points with 70% ethanol, 10% bleach, or an appropriate  disinfectant registered with the EPA
    • Doorknobs, sink fixtures, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, telephones
  • Additional information about Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection can be found below.

MORE INFORMATION

The most current information regarding COVID-19 can be found on the websites listed below.  If you have any questions contact the EH&S Laboratory Safety group at  LabSafety@stonybrook.edu

Stony Brook University’s Coronavirus Information
CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
CDC Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations