With fairly warm weather coming to western Oregon next week, I want to explain why I'll be wearing gloves when I go grocery shopping, enter a coffee shop, or am in other public places.
As should be obvious, it isn't because I'm cold, but because I'm old -- and thus more susceptible to the nastier effects of COVID-19, or coronavirus. My wife, Laurel, is in the same situation, except a bit more so, since she has asthma and COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system.
Today Amazon delivered four pairs of these oh-so-trendy gloves that Laurel ordered for me. (Via Amazon I'm also getting some gray gloves with no markings, though I do like the two-tone look of these gloves.)
Laurel has been using similar gloves during her many years of walking dogs at the Willamette Humane Society.
So she's got a routine down that we'll be using until the COVID-19 epidemic in Oregon slows down markedly. Namely, have several pairs of thin plastic gloves available so the ones that have been used can be washed with a load of laundry, then reused.
The reason wearing gloves makes sense to us is that COVID-19 can linger on surfaces for hours, and we don't have a very big supply of hand sanitizer. Thus our plan is to put gloves on when we go into a store or other public place, then take them off before getting back into our car.
It'll be important to not touch the fingers of the gloves when taking them off and putting them back on, but I've been practicing how to do this.
Wearing gloves will give us some increased peace of mind when we're out and about.
Some Googling revealed that in general, public health experts haven't been advising people to wear gloves, just as they haven't been advising the use of masks. But that advice has focused on thin disposable medical gloves.
And gloves are not recommended either: "This isn't something the general public would be wearing," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "I don't think they're going to do anything but give people a false sense of security, waste time and create more demand for something that's unnecessary, just like masks."
While disposable gloves are frequently worn in medical settings, they won't be as effective in day-to-day life.
"Latex gloves can rip very easily," said Adajla. "They're not designed for going out, running up stairs, doing things in daily life. They're not very durable when it comes to pumping gas or anything ... They're going to get holes. They're not meant for wearing during activities and daily living. Even as a physician, I have my gloves rip all the time."
OK. But what my wife and I will be wearing are lightweight garden gloves, which, as noted above, we'll be washing and reusing. Sure, we'll look like old people worried about getting COVID-19, but here's the thing: that's exactly who we are!
And we're not alone. Today I asked the dozen or so members of our monthly Salon discussion group if they were comfortable meeting during the COVID-19 outbreak. Only one person said they were, so we're going to cancel our March meeting and see how it goes come April.
It's a risk vs. return thing.
Yes, we enjoy getting together and talking about all sorts of interesting subjects. But as I said in an email to the group, it wouldn't be worth it if someone got seriously ill from attending a meeting, as unlikely as that might be. (Plus, it's going to get more likely as the disease spreads.)
Lastly, here's a right-on post that a Facebook friend, Susann Kaltwasser, wrote today. Susann makes some excellent points.
It occurred to me last night after watching all kinds of shows with interviews of experts, mayors and governor dealing with the pandemic that here in Salem we are focusing on the wrong things!
We are worried about toilet paper and handiwipes and masks. And we worry about the crowds in the grocery stores and if school is going to be closed and how will we get to work.
But while we are worrying about the little things like staying safe and our jobs, who is worrying about the big things?
Things like ....is Salem Health (hospital) going to have enough beds to accommodate all the sick patients who have the virus and can they keep them separate from the rest of the patients in the hospital?
Do they have enough equipment to treat hundreds of people who might get ill at the same time? Respirators? ICU equipment?
What will happen to the people who are ill, but not so ill that they need to be in the hospital? People who if they stay at home will just infect the rest of the family need to be kept in isolation. Where will they stay?
What do we do about children who live with their grandparents, because they do not have parents? And then the grandparents get sick?
When will we begin testing people in Salem and then what do the rest of us do, because right now the authorities are not even telling people what city they live in?
Seattle has taken some strong measures out of necessity, but do we want to have thousands of people become ill before Salem begins to take precautions?
Our City does press releases, but where is the face of the "City"? Where is the leadership? What are they doing to help calm us now, so that when things get really bad....and we need to assume that they will...that we do not have panic (assuming that it has not already begun)?
Are we all alone and have to fend for ourselves? Do we think our president is going to save us? Is washing our hands and avoiding people all we should be doing?
This is what other cities did and it did not stop the virus...it is just placating and delaying the inevitable. But can we learn a lesson and do some more proactive things to lower our curve?
I'll bet that you have more questions. When are we going to take this situation serious and begin to actually ask the right questions?