COVID-19 Planning Information for Labs

TO:

George Washington University Principal Investigators

FROM:

The Office of Laboratory Safety

DATE:

March 16, 2020

SUBJECT:

COVID-19 Planning Information for Labs

We are sending this message to all Principal Investigator (PIs) with a registered GW laboratory with guidance to help you prepare your laboratory and minimize the impact of disruptions related to CoVID-19. While you’ve received general information and resources from the University, you’re also likely thinking about what you can do to plan for the possibility of significant disruption to lab functions. Please start planning now and reach out with any questions. We are here to provide guidance and support.

While GW has robust emergency response plans and continuity of operations plans in place for general activities, as the PI you are the person best positioned to develop a continuity plan for your laboratory that takes into account your lab’s specific needs. Below we have outlined some of the key questions to consider.

In the event of a full closure, essential personnel in the Office of Laboratory Safety), along with other critical GW departments (Office of Animal Research, Facilities, Police, etc.), will continue working on campus. However, even without a closure, please consider the following in your planning:

  • Plan for a reduced workforce due to personnel being out sick or unable to come to campus
  • Anticipate that supplies may be backordered or out of stock, including critical reagents, chemical disinfectants, or personal protective equipment (PPE)*
  • Identify processes within the lab that require personnel attention (i.e., cell or tissue culture)
  • Prioritize activities, and avoid starting up new procedures in the event of a worsening situation
  • Limit personnel entering lab areas requiring donning and doffing of PPE (masks, gowns, face shields, etc.) to those necessary for tending to critical lab functions
  • Think strategically about all the activities required before entering a lab space requiring specific PPE. Plan for one individual to perform additional activities normally conducted by multiple lab staff to minimize the number of entry and exits (and thus changes in PPE)
  • Identify personnel who will be able to maintain essential laboratory functions
  • Ensure contact information for laboratory personnel is current and disseminated
  • Secure high-risk materials (radioactive, chemicals, biohazards)
  • Ensure that research staff have access to information that is needed to work remotely

*Due to a critical shortage of PPE, please be strategic about its use and only use that which is required to protect yourself in any given environment. Required PPE will be posted on the laboratory door. Taking excess may deplete necessary supplies and subsequently prevent work from occurring in the space.

As of March 16, the University has not restricted access to University buildings or research areas, but it is prudent for you to plan ahead in case access is not possible. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.