As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread around the world, we’ve heard all sorts of conflicting messages about the best ways to prevent its spread. One questions that has arisen is when, and how, gloves can and cannot serve as a defense against spreading the virus.
For the general public, glove use is not typically necessary in most situations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, there are certain instances when glove use can be crucial: when caring for someone who is sick, when cleaning infected or potentially infected surfaces and areas, and when working in some service industry jobs.
If you are taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19 or related symptoms, gloves can be very important to helping you avoid contagion. When touching surfaces near that person, such as when cleaning or disinfecting the areas around that person, gloves are recommended, especially when you will be coming into contact with contaminated items, blood or other bodily fluids. Be sure to begin with a fresh pair of gloves, and to discard the gloves immediately and safely after use.
When you will be disinfecting or cleaning any surfaces, at home or in a public setting, wear gloves so as to avoid picking up any contagions that may be on the surface, and to avoid spreading any contagions to that surface even as you try to clean it. Be sure to begin with a fresh pair of gloves, and to discard the gloves immediately and safely after use.
Gloves are ubiquitous in medical professional settings, such as doctor’s offices and hospitals. However, as other businesses, especially food service institutions, seek to reopen or remain open amid COVID-19, many are using gloves to improve safety and cleanliness as well.
Gloves are very important when handling or taking out trash, when cleaning tables and surfaces, and when handling any used non-disposable food service items such as plates and utensils. While frequent hand-washing remains important, gloves can prevent contagions from ever reaching the hands.
Consult local guidelines for restaurants, which may mandate certain rules and procedures for glove use and replacement in your particular industry.
It is crucial to keep in mind that once a contaminant finds its way onto the surface of disposable gloves, the gloves will do nothing to prevent the spread of that contagion onto another surface – for that reason, while medical-grade gloves keep contagions from reaching the wearer’s hands, he or she must be vigilant about changing gloves between each possible contamination, in order to avoid spreading possible germs in the same way that hands would. Wearing gloves is useless without learning and practicing safe glove removal, to avoid any cross-contamination. Be sure to remove gloves safely and to avoid skin contact with the outside surface of gloves once they have been used. After removing gloves, be sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.