Welcome to this week’s Tip of the Hat!
Some of you might already know that LDH is based out of Seattle. Seattle has been in the news with the recent COVID-19 cases and deaths in the area. We at LDH are staying relatively healthy (outside of it being allergy season in town). Nonetheless, some of you have also been impacted by COVID-19, including institutional travel restrictions, dusting off the disaster policy and procedures, and fielding questions from both staff and patrons about what will happen when there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 in your area.
There’s a lot of information out there regarding COVID-19 and what you should do to help slow the spread of the infection. Some sources include:
- CDC’s Coronavirus Prevent & Treatment
- WHO’s Coronavirus Advice for the Public
- A Guide to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) for Public Libraries from NNLM
The most important things to keep in mind during this time:
- WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND WATER. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold water. There are several memes out there with lists of songs you can sing for about 20 seconds, be it Happy Birthday, the opening trumpet solo in Mahler’s 5th, or the chorus to this song.
Hand sanitizer (store-bought, not homemade) is also an option, but not as effective as washing your hands with soap and water. 
- Cover coughs and sneezes using your elbow or tissue (then throwing the tissue away).
- If you are able, stay home if you are sick. This is not an option for those who do not have paid sick time, or if there’s a lack of coverage at work. If you do have the privilege to stay home, do so.
- Extra cleaning of any hard surfaces as well as public or shared areas, such as open offices and break rooms.
COVID-19 has also brought up some good reminders and discussions surrounding privacy in a time of a possible pandemic:
- Ask A Manager reminds employers that mandating employees to report on illness-related symptoms could be a violation of the employee’s privacy (question #3).
- If your organization is not considered a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA, you might be allowed to share illness-related information to others “as necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public–consistent with applicable law.”
- Work VPNs are essential for getting work done from home, but be aware that your employer can track what you’re doing if they run the VPN. Keep the work VPN use to work only, and log off of the VPN when you are done for the day.
- Be mindful of how you use social media. Tagging your location when you’re posting about being in quarantine, for example, might not be the best idea during a possible pandemic.
- There are already COVID-19 phishing attacks out there, so a gentle reminder to follow best practices in avoiding being phished.
Here are a few more articles surrounding the COVID-19 and the possible long-term implications to privacy regulations and public discourse:
- Coronavirus, facial recognition, and the future of privacy
- European Employers Seek to Balance Coronavirus Fears With Privacy Limits
- Coronavirus victims are anonymous – on purpose. Releasing their names would be a disaster
- The new transparency: smartphones, data tracking, and COVID-19
- On balancing personal privacy with public interest
Stay safe and healthy in the coming weeks!
 You would be surprised by the number of people who do not wash their hands regularly; this is something you should be doing anyway in normal circumstances. Hence, the shouting. Forever shouting about the washing of hands.