This resource will be continuously updated as new information and effective COVID-19 treatment and prevention options emerge.
Harvard University Laboratory Reopening Planning Committee
May 14, 2020
This resource is meant to establish clear and consistent guiding principles for the conduct of research in the era of COVID-19, to define operational protocols and precautions that minimize risk of viral transmission in a laboratory/research environment, and to provide examples of how the physical and temporal space of laboratories might be organized to enact these protocols in accord with these principles.
This report draws on the collective wisdom of experts in epidemiology, virology, public health, and emergency preparedness, as well as highly experienced research investigators and senior research officers, heads of hospitals and research institutions, and research building operations and facilities managers. We have benchmarked and compared our plan with those of many of leading universities and hospitals in the U.S. and our plan is in line with best practices.
The protocols and proposed guidance provided in this document also have been informed by, and are consistent with, the experience of Harvard hospital and health care workers and of essential research personnel in these settings who have continued to carry on COVID-related research programs while other labs ramped down. It is notable that adherence to the practices of social distancing, universal masking, and attentive avoidance and disinfection of surfaces has been highly successful in suppressing workplace transmission in these settings, despite the fact that they almost certainly represent higher risk environments due to the close proximity of COVID-19 patients. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the rigorous adoption of these same precautions, which are already familiar to most research staff and have been demonstrated as effective in related research settings, will likewise prove effective in preventing workplace transmission and safeguarding the health of personnel returning to Harvard’s research labs.