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Here's Why You Shouldn't Wear Gloves While Grocery Shopping

A microbiology professor argues that wearing surgical gloves is a waste of time.

Many states are now requiring shoppers to wear masks to protect grocery store workers on the front lines, but what about surgical gloves? Surely, sanitized rubber gloves will keep people safe from the potentially deadly COVID-19 contagion, right?

Not so, according to a microbiologist Marilyn Roberts, a professor at the University of Washington's Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences.

Roberts dismissed the utility for wearing surgical gloves in an interview with the New York Post. "The biggest issue is that people are picking up COVID-19 from other people," Roberts says. "They're not picking it up from surfaces."

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Medical and public health experts believe that the contagion is transmitted via repeated inhalation, which is why grocery store clerks are in harm's way. Many national chains are making their staff wear masks—and some are also offering gloves—to protect shoppers and workers from the coronavirus. But Roberts is skeptical that gloves even make a difference.

"Wearing gloves if you're just going to the grocery store isn't going to be that protective," Roberts says.

"The bigger issue is the inappropriate disposal." It seems that people are not discarding their gloves correctly—leaving them on the floors of grocery stores, in aisles, or even outside on the sidewalk.

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Wearing gloves also gives one a false sense of security, and may keep people from being vigilant in not touching their faces, which is the most likely way to contract the virus.

The COVID-19 contagion can live for an extended period of time on a variety of materials. But Roberts maintains that the best way to avoid contracting the coronavirus at the grocery store is to thoroughly wash your hands before and after your visit. That, and being disciplined about not touching your face.

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