It’s been just over a week since the CDC asked people living in the U.S. to wear cloth masks. I hear from the main grocery shopper in our household that they’re suddenly popular—he estimates 60 to 80% of people are using some kind of face covering.
It seems every conversation I have lately involves at least some discussion of the precautions we’re all taking. What do you do at the store? What have you seen other people do at the store, and why are they wrong?
As we’ve mentioned, the effectiveness of cloth face masks is still up for debate. Nobody has ever studied what happens when you tell a bunch of people to wear cloth masks in the middle of a pandemic, so authorities recommending the masks are making a judgment call, and only time will tell whether it was the right one.
When you wear a mask, you need to wear it properly: washing your hands before and after, and not touching the mask while you’re wearing it, to name a few of the more important points. I’ve heard about people repeatedly grabbing the mask by the front to reposition it, for example. Don’t do that. And if you’re wearing gloves, you need to be careful about what you touch with your gloves and with your hands, as this thread by a glove-wearing ecologist makes clear.
Based on what I’m seeing in my weekly grocery trip, people need a primer on how to use disposable gloves properly. As a scientist who wears gloves to protect me from lethal chemicals (abd to avoid contaminating ice age specimens), let me share some tips:
— Dr. Jacquelyn Gill (@JacquelynGill) April 5, 2020
We’ve also established that you don’t need to sanitise your groceries, but there are still a lot of judgment calls to be made on the details. Do you wash your shopping bags every time, if you use reusable ones? Or do you just keep them in the car? (Car-less New Yorkers are rolling their eyes at me right now.)
We’re also spending more time thinking out the logistics of making the trip to the grocery store. One of my parents went to “senior hours” at the local store, only to discover the place was far busier than at other times. And while our household has one person who does the shopping, I’ve wondered whether this actually protects the rest of us or not.
So let’s talk: what precautions do you take when you go out? What have you seen other people doing, good and bad? And what questions do you have?