FCH: Ask an Expert: Masks and gloves?

I heard I should wear a mask in public, but not gloves. What is the best way to stay safe?

The Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Department of Health, and Forks Community Hospital all are in agreement; wearing a homemade cloth face covering when in a public setting helps to slow the spread of COVID-19. These face coverings keep persons that may unknowingly have COVID-19 or another virus from transmitting it to others by blocking drops of saliva that naturally release during speaking and breathing. Not only do face coverings help keep others from inhaling infected droplets, it also can prevent them from settling on surfaces others may touch. These face coverings should:be able to be machine laundered and dried

• allow for breathing without restriction

• secure behind the ears or back of the head

• cover both the mouth and nose

• fit comfortable and snugly against front and sides of the face

• include more than one layer of fabric

• be washed often (daily)

When wearing a cloth face covering, do not touch the front of the covering or your face and wash your hands directly after removing the face covering. Face coverings SHOULD NOT BE WORN by anyone who is respiratory compromised or under the age of two. The CDC has several patterns available for Sew and No Sew facemasks that can be created from material, old t-shirts, and other low cost items. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html for free patterns and facemask information.

Gloves are recommended by the CDC when completing a few everyday tasks, but not in all situations. Gloves are recommended when;handling the dirty laundry, household items, and trash of someone who is sick or may have been exposed to the virus

• when cleaning and disinfecting

• touching buttons and handles on gas pumps; only when disinfecting wipes are unavailable

• touching buttons of an ATM; only when disinfecting wipes are unavailable

The most important thing to remember when you choose to wear gloves is to remove them safely. The CDC recommends these steps for removing disposable gloves:

grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist without touching your bare skin

peel the glove away from your body and pull it inside out

hold the glove you just removed in your gloved hand

peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist

turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second

dispose of the gloves safely.

disposable gloves should never be reused

wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, or cleanse with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, after removing the gloves

Many experts say wearing gloves at the grocery store will not lower your risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19. Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California spoke to Healthline on April 16, 2020. He stated, “…when it comes to COVID-19, for most people, there’s no medical benefit to wearing gloves at the grocery store.

With or without gloves, if you touch one thing then touch something else, you’re potentially transmitting it [the virus] from one place to another. Gloves might even divert attention from the importance of washing your hands. Any protective measures have a medical advantage or a social advantage. A lot of the advantage [of wearing gloves] is social. It says, ‘I care about you. I don’t want to give you the virus.’”

The disadvantage is the false sense of security having a pair of gloves on can give, especially if those gloves have been contaminated by touching many public surfaces and then are still worn when a person touches their face or contaminates their own hands when removing those gloves.

Frequent, good hand washing is the most effective way to stay healthy. Social distancing, staying home when you are able to, and not touching your face are all great ways to avoid exposure to COVID-19. It is always recommended that you make healthy food choices, exercise, and drink plenty of water to help your personal immune system stay strong.

We are happy to see people wearing masks, wiping items down, and sanitizing. An issue that was not anticipated is the improper disposal of these items. Discarding disinfecting wipes, gloves, masks, and other trash irresponsibility directly adds to the spread of COVID-19 as others must touch these items to discard them.

Please continue to be responsible, stay home when you can, social distance, and stay up to date on current recommendations and information. Links to the CDC, WHO, City of Forks, Clallam County, and Department of Health’s COVID-19 information pages can be found at www.forkshospital.org.

Disclaimer: This column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.