Art by Ally Armstrong
Having dealt with a compromised immune system for a period of my life, I keep a hand sanitizer with me everywhere out of habit — a security sanitizer, if you will. I have one by my bed, one by my desk, one in my car and one in my living room.
No one is saying you need to ascend to my level of alertness, but some of us need to think a little bit more about what we touch and what we touch after that.
As you can imagine, my love for hand sanitizer lends itself to a certain vigilance when it comes to handwashing and the like. You can further imagine my horror when I read a CNN Health article and found out only 5% of people in a 2013 Michigan State University study “washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infection.”
I can hear the cries of disappointed preschool teachers.
This might be a childish issue, and admittedly, it does take me back to elementary school, but grown adults disobeying one of the primary ways of preventing many types of diseases is also pretty childish.
After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides statistics that show handwashing reduces various illnesses by up to 58%, depending on the type of illness and the affected demographic.
It should be surprising that such an effective tool would be readily discarded in the name of time-saving convenience? Or perhaps laziness?
Though, I suppose after learning around 20% of Americans still don’t always wear a mask when in public even one year into a pandemic, it isn’t all that shocking.
What this really comes down to is creating a society that values personal health so intrinsically that there is no other possible outcome than a positive trend in public health. A society that combines its uphill efforts in creating a culture of compassion — a first-grade concept many still are struggling to grasp — with the novel argument that maybe we should prevent disease to just avoid being sick ourselves.
How do we do this? Education. Dissemination of lofty academic papers into readily available infographics. Perhaps a little magic. Lots and lots of soap.
Yes, humans are a little gross — in a couple of different ways — and it’s time to clean up our act.
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Email Tiffany Hall: email@example.com