Before we make our “new normal” our “new ridiculous” and worse yet make death and disease risk WORSE….
I have some questions for some of you more “common sense” kind of folks. Those who think through things and are open minded. Those who don’t just buy into fear, sensationalism, drama, or clique mentality. Those that think for themselves. Those that pride stats over opinions. Those that practice kindness more than unsolicited or unfounded opinions. Those that seek to understand more than be understood. Those that are willing to listen to reason more than buying into the “unreasonable”.
Here we go:
As a medical doctor for more than 20 years (and pride myself on evidence based and practical reasoning skills) I can only tell you what the scientific medical community knows about decreasing the spread of contagions. I don’t propose to know everything and always reserve the right to be wrong, but here’s what I was taught… and here’s what I have seen being practiced by the non-medical community that might not understand how infectious disease can be spread (viral, bacteria, parasites...etc).
Please remember that healthcare workers have adopted and used these practices since the awareness that we could prevent the spread of infectious disease was possible.
Let’s look at gloves
- In a medical setting general patient care:
-health care workers wear gloves when exposed to blood, body fluids to protect themselves or to prevent possible transmission of such to patients. They wash their hands thoroughly and change gloves between each patient.
THINK ABOUT THIS: What if your doctor or nurse didn’t change their gloves all day long and touched every patient with the same pair of gloves. Would you be okay with that????
We know that infectious contagions are spread through contact and can live on surfaces sometimes hours or days up to a week. So, wearing the same pair of gloves, when not disposed of in a medical waste receptacle, with every personal contact is potentially spreading disease to each person you touch with that infected surface.
With the hoarding of gloves and masks, we not only have shorted the supply of medical workers who desperately need them while treating the sick and keeping them from the general population… and without knowledge how to use them can be like giving a bottle of bleach to a 3 year old. Just make things worse.
I recently went through a “drive through restaurant window and asked the employee working the window, “Do you change your gloves between each customer”. They looked at me in disbelief first as if to say “what…?” and then “why….” set in. It was like I had offended them. The answer was “No, we don’t need to. We are trying to protect ourselves.”
I won’t even touch that mentality or that reasoning process but, if they are not disinfecting the gloves in some way between each customer, they are just transmitting viruses and bacteria with every contact. Think about it, viruses and bacteria are everywhere. You may not get sick with contact if your immune system is in tact and some foreign invader contagions can be more aggressive in making humans sick but they are still everywhere.
Even if they “germexed” the gloves between customers, that would be better than not changing them.
- In a medical setting sterile setting (surgery, invasive procedures)
These are gloves that are put through special sterilization procedures that should be reserved for doctors and medical personnel in appropriate situations. Hoarding these or using them (stealing or confiscating from medical offices, etc) can be dangerous for our whole society.
- Non-medical gloves
Should be worn when working with caustic chemicals such as cleaning agents, possible contaminant surfaces and to protect from abrasive contact, temperature control (mittens, etc.) and friction control (like driving).
Wearing dishwashing gloves to Wal-Mart to keep from getting sick is like wearing rainboots to go swimming in a lake. Think about it….
Photo: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology
Let’s Look at Masks
- In Health Care
Medical personnel wear masks when direct exposure to patients blood or body fluids are possible. They change their mask with each patient encounter and dispose of them in appropriate medical receptacles. If a patient is sick they are instructed to wear a mask for two reasons, one to prevent them from getting sicker from environmental infections that may tax their already compromised immune system and to contain and respiratory body fluids they might sneeze, cough or contact transmit.
Since these are changed between each patient, the infectious particles are disposed of with the mask. Unlike a piece of cloth or plastic that people are using to cover their faces, may actually harbor infections that can survive on cloth or cotton surfaces for days or weeks. This may put people at more risk, especially if they tough the mask frequently without cleaning or sterilizing.
What?!?!? I could actually be placing a petri dish of bacteria and viruses over my mouth to breathe in????
Think about it… if you take that bandana off, throw it in your pocket where you have touched all sorts of things or put it in your purse with all sorts of surfaces that can transmit disease and you put in right on your face! Wow… that just doesn’t make sense.
I like this excerpt from the WHO (World Health Organization)
There has been contradictory advice across the world about the necessity of wearing a face mask. Countries like Malaysia and Thailand are asking citizens to keep masks and hand sanitizers at the ready, while newspapers in Singapore are plastered with headlines like “Do not wear a mask if you are well,” and Australian health experts are reiterating calls that there is no need for the general public to wear face masks. One thing to point out is that the case in Asia is also slightly different, as many people sport masks year-round as a common practice to counter urban pollution.
But are these masks actually as effective as they seem to be? Hate to break it to you, but those surgical face masks do not offer you proper protection from airborne or respirable contaminants. (So that's a no for bandanas and scarfs, too.)
Usually worn by doctors, nurses and dentists, these masks are used to protect the patient, and stop germs from the bodily fluids coming from the wearer's mouth or nose reaching anyone else. The common and flimsy surgical mask doesn't offer adequate protection against COVID-19 or viruses in general. The coronavirus is quite small in size, about three microns, which is small enough to simply pass through the material of the mask.
You might argue that there is a distinction between the surgical mask and the heavy-duty N95 respirators. Yes, the respirator in the N95s keeps air particles away from the mask wearer and is geared toward protecting the wearer, but even these do not provide complete protection. They offer considerably better protection when compared to the common mask, but they are also uncomfortable and can make breathing more difficult. Health authorities say those who wear the N95 respirator masks should be wearing protective goggles as well anyway.
Official guidance from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention also makes no mention of wearing a face mask as a preventative measure against the virus.
However, if you are in close proximity to the infected person – say within 180 centimeters or 6 feet – then it is important to wear a face mask.
Another instance where such masks are helpful is when the infected or sick person wears them because it drastically reduces contamination rates.
One point that people tend to overlook is not touching the mask, especially around the mouth area, as hand contact can transmit viruses to the mask, increasing risk of infection. Officials advise you to only touch it when it is time to remove it, and under no circumstances, try to reuse it. Once you are done, into the bin it must go.
If masks aren’t that great then, what is one supposed to do to protect themselves?
Health officials say the only thing you need to do is practice proper hygiene. For example, Turkish officials recommend washing your hands often and at least for 20 seconds, with plenty of soap and water – especially after traveling via public transport. If no soap is around, doctors say an alcohol-based disinfectant will also do the job. They also advise refraining from touching your eyes, mouth or nose with your unwashed hands. People should also cough and sneeze into tissues or into the crook of their elbows to avoid spreading germs. Handles of doors, desks and toys as well as the surfaces where you eat are places that should be wiped down regularly.
I highly recommend you take a minute to read the recommendations at this link:
Let’s talk about Hand Sanitizing
I could spend volumes of pages talking about different hand washing techniques and sanitizers. I’ll let you do that research.
Bottom line… wash your hands/ or sanitize your hands frequently… but not obsessively. Use common sense. If someone tells you not to “touch your face” it only makes you subconsciously want to touch your face. So that doesn’t make sense. And if that bandana you haven’t washed in a week is on your face….that surely doesn’t make sense.
Here are some links to WHO about hand hygiene
Let’s Talk about Social Distancing
Safety first, I get it, but 50-60,000 people die every flu season and we didn’t close all the business….
Of all the methods of disease prevention along with cleanliness,both personal and of surfaces, REASONABLE decreased personal contact has by far the most potential to prevent the spread of contact contagions, however, surface contact is unavoidable and treating everyone like they have the plague, closing businesses, dodging co-workers….etc… without ---not ever touching a single surface that has been a shared point of contact ….is crazy making at the least.
While I have never liked the social act of shaking hands, as I think it is a set up for disease spreading and really only started as a practice in our culture to prove that we weren’t hiding a weapon in our dominant hand… is very unsafe in a general sense.
Common sense of keeping your distance from “sick people” or staying away from groups if you are sick yourself, is really the best “social distancing” we can practice. I do think that small spaces, like airplanes and theaters (as much as I frequent both of those) are potentially dangerous and should be avoided by the sick, immunosuppressed or immunocompromised.
There are many benefits to online work flows, but shutting down the world and avoiding human contact is not only impossible but could be detrimental to our connections emotionally with the world.
Okay … that’s a lot … I know…
But here are some random thoughts.
How about instead of 5 people standing at the door counting people at Walmart, they use 4 of those people to sanitize the shopping cart handles? How about those folks that are militantly trying to keep everyone 6 feet apart, actively clean and sanitize by spraying lysol or disinfectants and clean shelves, check out surfaces, freezer door handles….
How about just cleaning the credit card machines between each customer???? How many lives could that save?!!!!??
Let’s step into rational thinking. Yes, infectious disease is real. So let’s be REAL.
Big Love and Health,