Doctors: “Gloves, if anything make hand hygiene worse.”

Doctor Explains How Easily Cross-contamination Happens Even If You’re Wearing Gloves
Posted at 8:51 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 05:42:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville doctors say if you’re going to wear gloves, you need to do so knowing you could just as easily spread COVID-19 as you would with your bare hands.

We talked with Dr. David Aronoff, Head of the Infectious Disease department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and he says he’s concerned with those who seem to think of gloves as a safety net.

As Dr. Aronoff explains, we can’t contract COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface with our skin, but we can carry it on our hands if we haven’t washed or sanitized them.

“The only thing that gloves are really doing is creating another opportunity for us to contaminate our hands,” said Dr. Aronoff.

Dr. Aronoff says you should only wear gloves if it reminds you not to touch your face. Once you’re done, remember to throw your gloves away in the trash and sanitize your hands.

Dr. Aronoff himself doesn’t wear gloves to the grocery store. Instead, he wipes the grocery cart handles with an antiseptic wipe, keeps his distance from other shoppers and avoids touching his face.

We asked a few people just outside a popular Nashville grocery store if they prefer to wear gloves and answers varied. There were some who only wore gloves at grocery stores, while others admit they’re trying not to get caught up in taking more precautions.

“I keep my distance, but the mask and the gloves, no. Some may call me stupid, but ignorance is bliss sometimes,” said John Harden of Nashville.

Dr. Aronoff says he understands you may want to take every precaution you can, but things like social distancing have a much greater effect. COVID-19 after-all is most commonly transferred through air droplets which Dr. Aronoff says can be difficult to come in contact with, unless someone coughs or sneezes near you.

“Every single act of staying apart, actually makes a big difference and I hope people understand the important role everyone plays in slowing this pandemic down,” said Dr. Aronoff.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.