“While authorities are doing a lot to ‘flatten the curve’ of the
spread of the coronavirus, the places so many people are still going to are a
real hot spot for the spread of the virus, even though workers are now wearing
gloves,” Knighton said. “The big problem is that employees
are not being properly trained on infection prevention and control in part
because guidelines don’t exist.
“So those workers are constantly touching food,
people’s money, people’s hand, carts and touch screens–without cleaning their
hands or changing their gloves. But we know that the gloves can carry a
bioburden and increases the risk for transfer of germs.”
Knighton in late February did a 10-part Twitter thread on hand hygiene. She has also published multiple studies including her present work studying the movement of bacteria across various surfaces and patients’ hand hygiene practices in hospital emergency departments (which she can talk about in a general way because her work is not yet published or complete).
Shanina Knighton also conducted a Q&A on effective handwashing and other prevention techniques with the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing on its Twitter and Instagram accounts late last month. The Daily is resharing the content here to help ensure the safety of our community. Read the Q&A.
She said she has reached out to local and state authorities to
open up a dialogue about helping workers at these necessarily open
establishments get the needed training that would mirror the efforts of
well-trained health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
“Because this is
the front line—we’re all on the front line,” Knighton said. “But some of the
shoppers at grocery stores
still think we’re in normal times as they pick through the apples and grapes and
then later touch their face or someone else. Workers are also going to need to
be trained to spend more time following after to clean surfaces that we all are
touching; and we need to be trained to not do that.”
Not only that, she
said, but shoppers should be wiping down their purchased goods when they return
home, as most research says the COVID-19 virus can live at least nine hours on
surfaces, possibly much longer.
health care workers know to wash their hands before and after putting gloves on
– and to dispose of them often.
“The science is
that these gloves are actually porous,” she said, referring to the common latex
surgical gloves used by health care workers. “So many people think that these
gloves protect completely, but they really don’t. You can easily pick up germs
that stay on the gloves and which you transfer to another surface—and the
bacteria and viruses can actually go through onto your hands.”
Knighton said while social distancing is important to help stem the outbreak, the protective measures she’s recommending—regarding infection-prevention standards and practices at places where people have no choice but to be close to each other—is just as essential.