You’ve probably heard we face a shortage of masks and gloves, needed supplies to help fight the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 (C-19). The best we can do as individuals is to make sure we are using these supplies correctly.
Let’s start with masks. Wearing a mask won’t keep you from getting sick, but it can keep you from spreading the disease if you are already sick.
The understanding as I write this post is that C-19 is transmitted through heavy droplets when you cough or sneeze. A mask can keep you from spreading these droplets. But because they tend to fall to the ground—they don’t stay suspended in the air—you don’t have to worry too much about inhaling them unless you are around someone who has the disease for more than 15 minutes.
You can get sick if you touch something that these droplets have fallen on and then touch your face. So that brings us to gloves.
Gloves cut both ways. They can protect you from some forms of direct contact, but they can also encourage a false sense of security that reduces hand washing. Your gloves can also contact the infected droplets. If you touch your face while still wearing the gloves, you might as well not be wearing the gloves at all.
Then there’s the types of gloves. I saw someone walking their pet while wearing winter gloves. Cloth gloves can trap more of the infected droplets near your skin so you take them home with you. If you don’t immediately throw cloth gloves in the washer, you probably shouldn’t wear them at all.
Finally, there is an art to taking your gloves off. Be careful not to touch the outside of the glove to your skin. And wash your hands immediately, just in case.
These are scary times, but we can get through them if we think about what we’re doing, take care of each other, and work together.