Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, reversing an earlier directive against it.
Now, people across the country say they’re finding used masks as well as gloves and disinfectant wipes littering store parking lots. Doctors say it’s not just annoying, it’s dangerous. Doctors say littering isn’t just a nuisance — PPE that hasn’t been properly disposed of can cause the coronavirus to spread more easily. “I would urge at this time it is not a good practice to leave litter around for other people to clean up,” Dr. Karen Landers, a medical officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health, told WBRC.
She explained that current guidelines do not require the use of gloves “because they create a false sense of security” and could easily spread the virus if not removed or discarded correctly, according to the outlet.
Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant at Baylor College of Medicine, sang a similar tune. “We know these viruses can live in these surfaces anywhere between two hours to two days,” she told KPRC. She recommends wiping gloves down with hand sanitizer before tossing them.
So what is the right way to dispose of masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes? For one, put them in a trash can. “Make sure to find your nearest trashcan,” Betsy Stewart with Main Street Family Care told WBRC. “I know Walmart and most places have trashcans at the exit. Or grab an extra grocery sack and discard your gloves in there so you can carry them home to throw away.”