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The One Thing You Shouldn't Touch at Work Due to Coronavirus

When you're back at the office, don't press this one thing.
Front view of business people wearing protective masks in the office during the quarantine period

After working from your home office (aka dining room table) in your pajamas for three months, you finally get the call. Your office is re-opening and you're required to report there on Monday. Besides making sure your at-home haircut doesn't look too bad and your dress pants still fit after too many quarantine snacks, it's also important to consider certain safety protocols so your trip to the office doesn't cause you to bring the virus home to your family.

Follow the guidelines set in place at your office, including wearing a face mask, remaining socially distant from co-workers, and keeping your desk sanitized. There's one tiny yet dangerous thing that could have easily slipped your mind when developing your safety plan: elevator buttons.

The Buttons Are Crawling With Bacteria

Long before COVID-19 made 2020 a year to remember (or forget!), a study was conducted to measure the prevalence of bacteria on 120 sets of elevator buttons in public places. It was discovered that 61% of the buttons tested had colonizations of bacteria, including Staph.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that COVID-19 is more likely to be passed by airborne droplets from an infected person. However, if an infected person has these droplets on his or her fingers, then touches the elevator buttons, the virus can potentially still be alive and well, hanging out on that "Door Open/Close" or "6" button. Once your fingertips touch it, a quick nose itch or eye rub could infect you with coronavirus. Then all those months of quarantine will be for nothing!

RELATED: 15 Mistakes You're Making With Face Masks

How to Push the Buttons Safely

According to Dr. Daniel Griffin of Columbia University: "Everyone is going to be pushing the same buttons with their hands. You got to do something if you're going to touch the buttons." If you absolutely must push these buttons, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands right after. If it's not a good time to wash, use hand sanitizer and avoid touching your face.

Linsey Marr, a professor at Virginia Tech, suggests that you "punch the buttons with something other than your fingers." Consider using a capped pen, umbrella handle, or another item to press the buttons that won't damage them.

Once you've used an item to press the buttons, touching that item with your hands would defeat the purpose. Carefully handle it until you can clean it thoroughly and don't let it touch any other items you frequently come in contact with, such as your smartphone or sunglasses.

Navigating worklife in the time of COVID-19 could be tricky. Be sure to follow the latest CDC guidelines and the rules implemented in your office building to keep you and your family safe. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more
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