How to: Do you know proper sanitation methods for coronavirus?
As of this article’s posting, there have been more than 1 million U.S. cases of coronavirus and more than 84,000 confirmed deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These statistics have people taking the virus more seriously than ever before and applying all precautions to protect themselves and those around them.
Preventative acts are being taken both on an individual level and a business level.
On April 15, the governor of Maryland issued an order that all Maryland grocery stores and public transportation require customers to wear masks or some sort of face-covering before stepping inside.
Likewise, some grocery stores have chosen to label “X” marks every six feet on the floor to warn customers of how far away they should be standing from one another. Stores such as Trader Joe’s cap the number of shoppers at approximately 30, and some businesses are choosing to install glass partitions at the register as a barrier between the customer and the cashier.
“I think they’re effective changes, but I don’t think it’s enough,” Katherine Regnell, a nursing major at the university and nurse extern at Christiana Care Hospital, said. “Most people don’t understand that when you’re wearing a mask or gloves, there are correct and incorrect procedures.”
Regnell explained that before you touch your mask, your hands should be thoroughly cleaned. As you put the mask on, the nose section must be pinched in order to mold it to your face. Otherwise, bacteria can enter through the gap between your face and the material.
While out and about, Regnell advised to “completely avoid touching your mask with your hands” – even if one has gloves on. Regnell said that your hands should be pictured as two germ-infested objects that should not come near your face in public, gloves or no gloves.
A common mistake that Regnell often sees is people touching their mask to move it down their face to say something, before moving it back up over their mouth. This, she explained, “basically just smears all of the germs on the mask across your face,” and causes you to breathe in the bacteria on the exterior.
Regnell suggested washing your hands before and after you take the mask off. She said the mask should only be removed by the strings and should immediately be discarded into the trash.
“When it comes to gloves, it’s much trickier to do everything 100% right,” Megan Dolan, a medical scribe at Christiana Care Hospital, said. “But a lot of the safety measures that people overlook are completely avoidable.”
Dolan currently works in the Emergency Department of the hospital and sees coronavirus patients on a daily basis. She has been a part of numerous hospital-wide meetings with supervisors to discuss proper protocols and sanitary preparation for patients.
Dolan said that you should not be putting on your gloves until you are out of your car and about to enter the public space. After putting on a fresh pair of disposable gloves, you also shouldn’t touch your face or any of your personal belongings until leaving. Dolan pointed out that this is most commonly seen with people and their phones, as all the germs on someone’s gloves are immediately transferred to the surface.
One of the most important steps to follow, according to Dolan, is the payment procedure once you approach the register of a grocery store or other business. You should not reach into your purse for a credit card with your glove, but take one glove off instead to ensure you are using a clean hand. Dolan recommends only using the gloved hand to touch the keypad, transfer the bagged groceries back into the cart, push the cart to the car and unload the groceries into the car. After completing each in a sanitary manner, it is recommended that you remove your gloves and dispose of them before getting back into the car.
When it comes to any bagged item coming from outside the home into the home, Dolan said that each individual item should be disinfected using a Clorox wipe before it is placed in your pantry or elsewhere. This goes for packages being shipped to your house and gifts being delivered by friends and family.
“Basically if you think you’re being too safe, you’re probably still not being safe enough,” Dolan said.
Doug Steventon, a fifth-year at the university, never questioned his role during the coronavirus pandemic as a healthy 22-year-old. Holding a mindset similar to other college students, he claimed that until very recently, he considered the situation to not be his responsibility.
“I never even thought about how the disease could be spread just by touching store items and putting them back,” Steventon said. “I’ve never worn a mask or gloves up to this point because I’ve never felt threatened by the virus, but it’s scary to think that my actions as a young person could put someone more vulnerable at risk, even when I’m going nowhere near them.”
Steventon admits that in the beginning, he wasn’t perfect when it came to stopping the spread of coronavirus. While social distancing, he used to find himself going to the store just to get out of the house or hanging with friends outdoors without following the six-feet rule.
“In the beginning, a lot of college students figured ‘Hey, we’re all on campus, and we’re all young, so we can’t be at risk,’ and we thought we could bend the rules,” Steventon said. “As the weeks pass, and the severity of [the virus] increases, we’re all realizing that that isn’t the case at all.”
With more and more states making it mandatory to wear masks and gloves inside businesses, health professionals urge the public to be more aware of the correct methods.