gloves at the grocery store

Why Dr’s Say It’s Not a Good Idea…

If just the thought of going grocery store is giving you anxiety now days, you’re not alone. As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb-there are currently 800,932 reported confirmed cases in the US, most of us are taking precautionary measures to avoid contracting the virus. Recently, the CDC and Prevention has modified its recommendations to include wearing face coverings when you’re out and about and as more people start covering their faces, many of us can’t help but wonder if we should cover our hands with gloves as well.

For the general public, that answer is no. In fact, there are only two times the CDC suggests the use of gloves in regards to the Coronavirus: 1.) If you’re cleaning and disinfecting your home, and 2.) If you’re a healthcare worker treating someone who is a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient. Gloves have not been advised as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 for the average public and that’s largely because of how the disease is (and isn’t) transmitted.

Why gloves cannot protect against coronavirus for the general public?

First, it’s important to understand how coronavirus can travel from person to person. The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease, is a respiratory virus carried on droplets, which means it needs to enter the respiratory tract to cause disease. Its primary way is that it enters the respiratory tract is when people inhale infected droplets. They think that a small portion of infections happen when people touch surfaces where the virus lives and then touch their face.

Basically, what they are saying is that you can’t contract COVID-19 through touch alone, it does not get absorbed through our skin and in order to acquire coronavirus through touch, we have to touch something contaminated and then touch our face. That’s what essentially renders gloves useless. It seems gloves might create a barrier between our hands and infected surfaces; they do not prevent COVID-19 infection because we can still touch our face with our gloved hands. Gloves are a physical barrier between our hands and the shopping cart or the card machine at the register, but they can harbor germs themselves; and we can also contaminate our bare hands when we put them on and/or take off.  Because of that gloves are no more protective than social distancing, washing hands, and not touching our face. It’s also important to remember that gloves don’t prevent any potential contaminants from traveling home with you on items that we pick up at the store, so cleaning food item packages and containers properly would be more beneficial.

Why are gloves necessary for healthcare workers, but not the general public?

Just remember that healthcare workers and other hospital employees come into contact with greater amounts of the virus and in a medical environment, gloves provide a physical barrier between a patient and physician. They are a layer of protection since they are deliberately touching and examining us as patients.

They put gloves on when entering a patient’s room and remove the gloves before leaving the room, and then wash our hands. Usually healthcare workers wear gloves to examine patients all the time, with or without COVID concerns in order to protect both the patient and the doctor. They don’t want to pass on any germs from their hands, fingernails, etc. to patient’s body, especially if they are touching inside patient’s mouth, nose, eyes or elsewhere. At the same time they don’t want to be exposed to patients germs from a potentially infectious any body fluids, skin rash, lacerations or nose bleeds.

I am sure that in hospitals, healthcare workers must complete training on how to put on and take off PPE equipment and wash their hands in between each step, something most of non-medical workers don’t understand.  According to nurses and doctors gloves are not a free ticket to touching our face.

How to wear and use gloves properly if you still want to wear them:

Wearing a pair of gloves may make you feel safer and possibly remind you not to touch your face, and then there is no real harm to yourself in doing so. Just remember gloves are only keeping our hands clean, which means, even while wearing them, we still can’t touch your face, and when it comes time to take the gloves off, we need to remove them properly. Wearing gloves also doesn’t give us a free pass to stop washing our hands – after removing gloves; we still need to wash our hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds.

If you do decide to wear gloves to the store, there are some very specific steps you need to take in removing those gloves, according to the CDC’s website:

With both hands still gloved, grab or pinch the outside of the glove near one wrist, without touching your bare skin.

Peel the glove away from your body, turning it inside out as you remove it. Hold the removed glove with the still-gloved hand.

Slip your now-bare hand under the wrist cuff on the gloved hand.

Peel the glove away from your body, turning it inside out as you remove it once again. You will end up with both gloves inside-out, one wrapped inside the other. Dispose of the gloves safely—do not reuse them. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds.

Bear in mind however, wearing gloves should not replace any other precautions you have been taking. That includes proper social distancing and wearing a mask when necessary, per the CDC.

The information in this story is accurate as of publishing time. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data may change since publication. While Wiz Team, Inc. is cleaning for health and is trying to keep our blogs/stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage you to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, and local public health department as resources.

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