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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Should You Wear Gloves to the Grocery Store? (And Then What?)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Author name: Lee Health

To glove or not to glove? Is it safer for you to wear gloves while grocery shopping during the pandemic?

“That depends,” says Dr. Stephanie Stovall, infection prevention medical director with Lee Health.

“Gloves do offer protection – particularly in healthcare environments where they are used for patient care; they must be worn and disposed of in a correct, safe manner,” Dr. Stovall says. “Wearing gloves in the community in situations where gloves are not commonly worn can give you a false sense of security. You could end up touching whatever you wish, including your face, and risk contaminating yourself.

“You may also need to wear them in a home environment if you are providing medical care to someone who is ill.”

Dr. Stovall says that gloves should not be reused. “Disposable gloves are just that,” she says. “Wear them once and that’s it.”

She also stresses that wearing gloves is not a substitute for cleaning your hands.

“Your hands can still get contaminated while wearing or removing your gloves,” she says. “Clean your hands before putting gloves on and after throwing away your gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Safety tips when grocery shopping

  • Wear a face mask.
  • Do not touch your facemask or your phone.
  • If the grocery store offers sanitizing wipes, use them to wipe your cart handle.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Limit sorting through grocery items and touching surfaces. 
  • Sanitize your hands in your car before leaving the parking lot.
  • Wash your hands after you unload the groceries at home.

How to correctly remove your gloves

Some of the confusion about gloves centers around what to do after you've gone shopping to avoid cross-contamination. So when you are ready to remove your gloves, follow these steps:

  1. Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist. Avoid touching your skin.
  2. Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
  3. Hold the glove you just removed in your gloved hand.
  4. Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
  5. Turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second.
  6. Throw them away immediately in the trashcan.
  7. Clean and/or sanitize your hands right away.

For a good visual of the list above, check out this graphic from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

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