Most Americans are hunkering down and staying home as much as possible due to the novel coronavirus in order to stay safe and healthy. But even with stay-at-home orders issued by state officials, essential errands such as trips to the grocery store are still an important and unavoidable part of life for those of us living in Lompoc Valley and throughout the country.
As cases of COVID-19 (caused by the coronavirus) continue to increase, going out to run errands can bring about feelings of anxiety. Naturally, you want to do everything you can to protect your health, the health of your loved ones, and others in the community, particularly the most vulnerable such as the elderly and immunocompromised among us.
Many Americans are eager to know what can be done to stay healthy and avoid picking up the virus, and fortunately, the news and the internet are both full of advice and hygiene tips to avoid exposure to the coronavirus. But with information coming from a number of different sources, it can be difficult to parse through what is true and what isn’t.
Safety Precautions to Prevent COVID-19: Should I Wear Gloves?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has several recommendations on how to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 when making essential trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. The CDC strongly suggests wearing face masks when leaving home. But what about wearing gloves to cover your hands? Is this a necessary precaution?
In a word: no. Wearing a pair of gloves won’t lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. A glove can transfer germs to any surface you touch — including your face.
If there is a rip or tear — however small — in the glove, they are futile. Gloves can also provide a false sense of security, and those who wear them may end up feeling “safe” with touching everything — including their faces — which can lead to self-contamination. Germs that may be on your gloves can be transferred to any other surface you touch, including your phone, wallet, watch, and your body.
What if I Want to Wear Gloves as an Extra Precaution?
If you feel safer wearing gloves, that is okay, but it is very important to be mindful of putting them on and taking them off correctly.
When wearing gloves, take every precaution you can, as if you would when not wearing gloves. Treat them as if they are laden with germs, and act accordingly.
The most effective way to prevent germs from spreading from your gloves is to bring hand sanitizer with you everywhere you go. Wear the gloves until you can wash your hands — or use your sanitizer — and no longer need to use them.
In the process of removing your gloves, your hands may become contaminated, which is why you must clean them when returning to the car or home, whether you’ve worn gloves or not.
The CDC has a visual guide on its website that thoroughly demonstrates how to properly remove gloves you’ve worn to the store or anywhere in public. Steps for removing gloves include:
- Pinch the outside of your first glove at the wrist, being very careful not to touch any bare skin.
- Peel the glove away from your hand, pulling it inside out.
- Be very careful not to rip or tear gloves in the removal process, or you risk contamination.
- Hold the removed glove in your gloved hand — do not hold it with your ungloved hand.
- Remove the other glove by inserting your fingers inside the glove under your wristband. Be sure not to touch the exterior of the glove with your bare hands!
- Turn the glove inside out, pulling it away from your body.
- Leave the first glove within the second glove.
- Immediately dispose of the gloves, placing them in the trash.
- Wash your hands immediately after glove removal.
Gloves may provide some semblance of security, but it is very important to wash your hands thoroughly whether you wear gloves or not.
Never, ever reuse a pair of gloves. Dispose of yours immediately after use.
What Can I Do to Protect Myself Instead of Wearing Gloves?
Washing your hands is the most effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus if it is on your hands or surfaces you have touched.
Staying home is your safest bet to avoid getting COVID-19. But when you have to go out, the CDC has several recommendations in place to keep yourself safe and healthy.
- Do not touch your face (no matter how itchy it gets!)
- Do not touch your phone
- Do not touch your watch
- Practice social distancing while in the store — this means staying at least 6 feet away from others at all times
- Limit the surfaces you touch — no cherry-picking items off the shelves, just get what you need and don’t linger too long
- Wear a face mask — do not touch the mask once it is on your face
- Sanitize your hands — use hand sanitizer in the car, and immediately wash your hands when you get home after unloading your groceries and other items
When to Wear Gloves to Avoid COVID-19
Although you don’t need to wear gloves when going to the grocery store or pharmacy, the CDC does recommend the use of gloves in the following situations:
- Pumping gas — wear gloves when touching the buttons or handling the pump when you do not have access to disinfecting wipes
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that have been exposed to the public (i.e., your mailbox)
- Handling items that have been touched by someone exposed to the virus
The coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets — from a cough or sneeze — from an infected person. These droplets are invisible but can land on nearby surfaces. If you touch them with your hands — or gloves — and subsequently touch your face, the virus can enter through your nose, eyes, or mouth. The best way to prevent the spread is through meticulous washing of your hands every time you leave the house.
While staying at home as we ride out the COVID-19 pandemic, self-care is of the utmost importance. Eat nutrient-dense foods, take your vitamins and medications, and exercise. Carve out time each day to do something that brings you joy, whether that’s calling a loved one, meditating, or zoning out with a good book. Stay 6 feet away from others, and wear a mask when out in public. All of us at LVMC hope you stay safe and healthy.