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The public library is the latest place to pick up a coronavirus test. Librarians are overwhelmed.

Washington Post: “…As public libraries in the District and across the nation have been pressed into service as coronavirus test distribution sites, librarians have become the latest front-line workers of the pandemic. Phones ring every few minutes with yet another call from someone asking about the library’s supply of free coronavirus tests, often asking medical questions library workers aren’t trained to answer. Patrons arrive in such large numbers to grab tests that the line sometimes backs up for blocks. And exhausted librarians also are getting sick with covid themselves. “The library has always been a community center, a place where the public can get something they wouldn’t have otherwise, like free Internet,” another D.C. children’s librarian said. “But it feels like we’ve become too good at our jobs. It becomes, ‘Oh, the library can handle it.’ We’re getting more and more tasks and responsibilities that just feel overwhelming.” “We care about our community, but we’re tired,” said another D.C. library staffer, who like all six D.C. library workers interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because library rules prohibit them from speaking to reporters without permission. Public libraries in D.C. started handing out coronavirus test kits months ago, beginning with PCR tests that patrons had to take home to use, then deposit in a dropbox at the library and wait for the results to come back from a lab. Just before Christmas, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced that select libraries would also offer at-home antigen test kits that patrons could use to get results in just 15 minutes. Demand for the at-home tests — which at times were hard to find in pharmacies — soared, especially as people sought to get tested before joining family and friends for the holidays. And librarians’ workload soared too…”

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