Okay, Let’s Talk Masks and Gloves
The best way to prevent COVID-19 infection is isolation – stay at home. That is, by every measure, an inconvenience which only seems right when you are old or have underlying health conditions, stuff like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart trouble, and autoimmune diseases. Tricky indeed if you have to work for a living.
Short of isolation the guidance consistently offered to prevent COVID-19 infection is
- social distancing – stay a distance of 6+ feet from other humans in a public setting,
- wear a mask when social distancing is not possible,
- wash hands with soap/water ALOT,
- and use sanitizing gel or wipes when washing is not an immediate option.
So with that background, let’s first look at masks.
We are talking masks for those of us who AREN’T in the medical business. Our masks will NOT KEEP us from being infected. Our masks keep us from infecting OTHERS. How?
This virus infects us when it arrives into our lungs through our mouth and nose. When the virus arrives in our body there is a 4 – 14 day incubation period before we get symptoms. And some of us will never have symptoms. Our immune system just fights the virus off and life goes on.
NONE OF US KNOWS FOR SURE IF WE ARE CARRYING AROUND THE VIRUS.
If you ARE infected and wandering around in public you are shedding virus around for others to pick up. The virus is looking for a way to get into somebody else’s mouth and nose. WE DON’T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN.
Of course the best way to avoid infecting others is to stay home and out of the public. But sometimes we need groceries, as an example. And in my case food needs to be distributed at the food pantry. Masks are intended to help you and me keep from UNKNOWINGLY giving our virus away to others.
However there is ONE WAY THE MASKS HELPS PROTECT YOU.
While you are out and about you are touching stuff like counter tops, door handles, the list is endless. And if you touch your face the virus has a good way to move from your hand to your mouth and nose. A mask does keep you from touching your face.
Of course every time you touch that mask, every time you cough or sneeze into that mask virus can be collecting. Which means it needs to be washed in hot water and soap. So when you get home, after you wash your hands properly, then wash and dry the mask.
You may need several masks if you go out a lot.
Which brings us to WHAT IS A MASK?
It’s anything that covers your mouth and nose. A nifty cloth mask made by some clever seamstress. A paper mask you rigged up from coffee filters and then dispose of after one use. A handkerchief you tie on.
What we know about this virus is that washing with soap and water “kills” it . So just like washing your hands is good, anything made of cloth can be washed with soap and water to accomplish the same thing.
Now if you are going to keep taking your mask on and off, tossing it down onto a surface that is collecting virus, putting it back on inside out YOU ARE JUST MAKING THINGS WORSE.
Is this you?
If this is you then you might want to just avoid a mask, keep your distance from everybody, keep disinfectant gel and wipes available at all times. Stay at home.
Actually staying home is the best thing. The mask is a crutch for when you can’t stay home.
Okay, Lets talk about gloves.
Hanging off the end of your arms are hands. Pretty much everything you do involves those hands. Just try getting in the house or the car, carrying groceries, getting stuff out of your purse or your pocket, putting away laundry, changing the oil, .etc. etc.
Everywhere those hands go they are potentially exposed to stuff like viruses (and bacteria, by the way).
Let’s just say you left your house clean as a whistle, house antiseptic and hands washed properly. Maybe you have a bottle of disinfectant gel or wipes in your pocket.
You leave the house, get in the car, fill it with gas, go to the store, open the door to the store, shake hands with somebody, hug somebody else, buy stuff, carry the stuff to the car, go home, take bags in the house, put the stuff away.
I’m sure you have the picture.
The minute you left the house everything you touched in public was a potential source of virus. And then you join the rest of the public in depositing and picking up virus all along the way. OMG. Maybe we should wear gloves.
So now we put gloves on those hands. Our hands are safely hidden away inside those gloves so now all the viruses and bacteria are on the GLOVES.
So what exactly have we accomplished?
Nothing except a false sense of security. If you just want to wear gloves, go for it. But just remember they are your hands in costume. Drag out that disinfectant and use it on the gloves just as if they were your hands. Wash those gloves with soap and water BEFORE taking them off. And then you still have to actually wash your hands.
There are rules for how to remove gloves well known by health care workers. Kind of a pain in the neck. So you could just use your hands without costume and make life a bit easier.