The biggest news of 2020 is out and it is: #StayHome. TikTok videos, Facebook couch concerts, Instagram live stories, FaceTime calls, and Zoom meetings have become the norm because people are encouraged to remain indoors to curb the spread of the coronavirus. When people leave the house, many choose to don face masks and slip into disposable gloves, so long as they are available. These are hot ticket items, but do they even reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19?
If you have questions about COVID-19 and how to effectively avoid it, you are not alone. Photos from large metropolitan cities have captured people in face masks and disposable gloves because they don’t want to become infected. Before we continue, it is worth noting how coronavirus actually spreads.
How COVID-19 Spreads:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily in the community, also known as “community spreading.” This means that people in one area can be infected with the virus, and they are often unsure of how they become infected. It spreads from one infected person to others via droplets in the air that are released via coughing or sneezing. These droplets must be land on others or be inhaled to infect them. It can also spread through close contact (e.g. touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mouth, eyes, or nose before washing hands), which is why social distancing has been enforced. That being said, Amesh A. Adalja, M.D. at Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security informed that this is not the primary method of spreading.
So Can Wearing Disposable Gloves Reduce Your Risk Of Coronavirus?
There has been no recommendation from the CDC to wear disposable gloves to reduce the risk of COVID-19. However, people who are caring for someone with COVID-19 are encouraged to wear protective gloves. Plenty of people are wearing disposable gloves, even when they go about their daily routines. The sad part is that most people don’t wear them appropriately. They wear them in the grocery store and don’t remove them before they get back in their cars, or they take the same pair on and off when using their phones. Medical latex gloves are not designed for everyday use and can rip easily. Additionally, people have a natural tendency to touch their faces, even when they are wearing gloves, which is the main way COVID-19 spreads.
How To Properly Remove Disposable Gloves:
If you choose to wear disposable gloves when you go out to get supplies, you need to know how to properly remove them. Follow the guide below:
- Pinch and hold the outside of the glove near the wrist and peel downwards away from the wrist to turn the glove inside out.
- Pull the glove away until it is fully turned inside out and then hold the inside-out glove with the gloved hand.
- Take your ungloved hand and slide your finger under the wrist of the glove, carefully avoiding the outside of the glove.
- Peel downwards away from the wrist to turn the glove inside out and the inside-out glove will end up in the glove you are removing.
- Dispose of the gloves and then wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
Do Masks Protect Against Coronavirus?
In short, a physical barrier like a surgical or cloth mask will not protect you from contracting the virus, according to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. The reason for this is because people don’t wear them properly, often dropping them below their noses or mouths. Surgical masks are designed to be single-use, and people who are not used to them run the risk of auto-contamination (you touched an infected surface, then touch your mask, and continue wearing it). They become useful if you are in close quarters with people who become infected. Unless you are sick and are hoping not to infect others, you don’t need a face mask.
Face Masks Vs. Respirators:
The term “mask” has been loosely tossed around, but not all masks are created equal. People have been using surgical masks, DIY barriers, ski masks, reusable cloth masks, and respirators to protect themselves, but most use them incorrectly. An N95 respirator may help protect you from a respiratory virus, if worn correctly, but most places are out of stock. And people shouldn’t be stockpiling these because respirators and masks are needed for people who are actually caring for infected COVID-19 patients.
Healthcare workers need respirators and gloves more than everyday citizens do. People without specialized training may use these items incorrectly and increase their risk of contracting the virus.