Orange County buildings to remain closed to public as staff focuses on COVID vaccine distribution
Staff from many departments, including the Orange County Public Library, are playing a crucial role in helping with the county’s top priority of vaccinating residents for the pandemic. Dozens of employees have been temporarily reassigned to answer phone lines and register county residents to receive the vaccine, and others are working at vaccination clinics to help with on-site registration and traffic flow.
As a result, resources are not available to reopen facilities at pre-pandemic levels, county manager Bonnie Hammersley said. In addition, most county staff are not considered essential workers, and as such will not be eligible to receive the vaccine until Group 5.
“Reassignments of staff result in a lack of resources to open and/or provide services at the level of pre-pandemic, and very few of our public-facing employees have received or are eligible to receive the vaccine,” Hammersley said. “Once the majority of Orange County residents and our employees are vaccinated, county operations will be evaluated to determine the resources available to open to the public in a safe and effective manner.”
Individuals in Group 3 (Frontline Essential Workers) become eligible March 10 to register for the vaccine. The county anticipates a surge in interest as eligible people sign up for their shot. The need for additional staff support will remain high throughout the spring and summer as the state progresses into Groups 4 and 5, which are the largest groups to become eligible to receive the vaccine.
All county buildings, including library branches, remain closed to the public. Most departments offer programs and services virtually, and some are open via appointments or drive-through services. The library offers a curbside program that allows residents to check out materials and has expanded its virtual offerings during the pandemic.
While we continue to proceed with caution in opening all county offices, the library offers:
- curbside checkout, printing, and pick-up activities
- digital services – eBooks and audiobooks for all ages, tutor.com, ancestry, access to the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, and more
- virtual programs – book clubs, family programs, storytimes and Princeton Review test prep
- honoring special requests (for example Grab a Board Book)
- print newsletters to residents who may not otherwise be on the internet through the Interfaith Council and OCIM food pantries, and the Department on Aging
- book discussions and technology classes in collaboration with Department on Aging
- Appointment-based phone technology support in collaboration with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Computer Workshop Series
“Right now our primary focus is distributing the vaccine,” said Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart. “Our goal is to distribute every dose we receive within a week, and this requires a countywide approach. We are grateful for the support of staff from other departments, including the library, for helping us register and manage the process.”
- Click here for a listing of which county services are available, either remote or through in-person appointments.