St. Lawrence County officials: wash clothes, shower after work; disinfect packaging; wash hands frequently
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
CANTON -- A St. Lawrence County public health educator on Monday afternoon answered citizens’ questions about COVID-19. They covered topics like the risk of transmission from grocery shopping and takeout, and the efficacy of cloth masks among the general public. They also discussed what essential workers should do when coming home to avoid possibly spreading coronavirus to others in the house.
The session was broadcast live over the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department’s Facebook page with County Administrator Ruth Doyle asking submitted questions from citizens, and Community Health Educator Brigette Conklin answering them.To start the session, Doyle noted that no one knows how long the disease will be a problem, and people should keep taking precautions like handwashing, social distancing of six feet and staying home unless essential.
“Many aspects of the duration of COVID-19 are unknown,” Doyle said.
Essential workers coming home
Essential workers, such as those who deliver mail or work in grocery stores, should change their clothes as soon as they get home.
“Changing clothes is recommended,” Conklin said. She added that the clothes should be immediately placed in the wash. And the person should shower and thoroughly wash their hands before coming into contact with anyone else in the house.
She said authorities are not ordering closures of businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies. However, she suggested calling the store to see about curbside pickup. And people who must go into the store should keep six feet away from others, limit the number of trips and go alone.
Fast food and takeout
When it comes to takeout, Conklin said there is “no evidence COVID 19 can be transmitted during eating food.” And she warned “getting takeout is not completely risk-free.”
She said people eating takeout or fast food can take precautions by washing their hands before eating and disinfecting the outer containers. Workers serving fast food and takeout should also frequently wash their hands, Conklin said.
Cloth mask efficacy questionable
Some people are wearing masks in public. She said surgical masks can stop sick people from spreading it, but they shouldn’t be in public anyways.
“Official documentation from New York State Department of Health does not recommend healthy individuals wear masks,” Conklin said.
She said surgical masks can be effective, but “data on cloth masks is not clear.”
Symptomatic people should be staying home, and people wearing masks should still abide by the same social distancing recommendations as everyone else, and limiting their trips to stores and other businesses.
Handling packages and groceries
Conklin said people should be able to safely accept package deliveries and handle groceries, as long as precautions are taken.
“The majority of transmission is in contact with an infected person,” she said.
She recommends people disinfect the packaging as soon as they get home, followed by thorough handwashing.
She said the virus won’t live long on cardboard or other hard surfaces, like plastic.
Copper vs. COVID
One person submitted a question asking if people should “put their bodies in a state of copper toxicity.” There have been national media reports saying the virus lives for the shortest amount of time on copper surfaces.
Conklin replied that copper has antibacterial properties, but there is “no evidence of its effects on COVID-19, so we should focus on the evidence-based strategies.”
Those include washing your hands for 20 seconds, maintaining six feet of social distancing, and practicing cough etiquette, which means coughing into your elbow or into a disposable tissue that is promptly thrown away, followed by hand washing, or using hand sanitizer.