[Medford, Oregon] — With the COVID-19 pandemic, the general public, businesses and employees are doing everything they can to protect themselves and the community. This includes utilizing medical supplies that are not intended for the general public to use on a daily basis.
As a reminder, this virus spreads mainly from person-to-person who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.
One of the personal protective equipment (PPE) items people are purchasing and wearing are medical gloves. Medical gloves are typically used in a medical setting as a standard precaution when it can be reasonably anticipated that contact with blood, mucous membranes, non-intact skin, potentially contaminated skin, or other potentially infectious materials or contaminated equipment could occur.
The Centers for Disease Control does not currently advise the general public to wear medical gloves. It is important to understand that wearing medical gloves does not provide complete protection against contamination and that gloves are not a substitute for washing your hands.
Wearing gloves in public settings may offer some protection, but they could also be transmitting the virus. “Viruses and bacteria cling to gloves and can be transferred to other surfaces you touch,” says Cheryl Menard-Wentz, a local Infection Preventionist. This can occur when someone is at a grocery store touching numerous surfaces. They use their cell phone, then touch their face, all while wearing the same pair of gloves.
“We sometimes see that when people wear protective equipment, such as medical gloves, it gives them a false sense of security. Washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing are everyone’s best options,” says Chad Petersen, Environmental Public Health Manager for Jackson County.
For businesses still operating, they should be following Oregon OSHA guidelines for proper PPE requirements and use. For more information visit their website: https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx
For more information:
The public can call 211-information with general questions
OHA Emerging Respiratory Disease page: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus
CDC COVID-19 page: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Jackson County Health and Human Services: https://jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19