KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment warned Wednesday that the general public and most restaurant employees shouldn’t be wearing disposable gloves as a protective measure against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, glove-wearing might actually make people less safe from the coronavirus.
Health Department Director Dr. Samni Areola, Johnson County EMS medical director, Dr. Ryan Jacobsen and Dr. Joseph LeMaster, the local health officer for Johnson County, co-signed a letter expressing concern about the use of gloves, which runs counter to advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health experts.
“In most cases, the wearing of gloves by the general public and in most types of employment as a preventive measure is not based on evidence,” the letter said, in part.
Gloves remain appropriate for workers who handle raw food or otherwise would typically wear gloves during the course of a work, but expanded use isn’t recommended.
That includes restaurant workers delivering plates of food or pouring beverages and grocery store workers stocking shelves, checking out customers or bagging groceries.
“Not only do gloves offer a false sense of security, they can lead to increased transmission because people are wearing gloves instead of frequently washing their hands,” according to the letter. “We are not hearing that people are putting on new gloves in between each customer they serve. We have heard about people using hand sanitizer on their gloves, which leads to the degradation of those gloves and defeats their purpose.”
Without changing gloves after each task, continuous use of the same pair of gloves “is the equivalent of not washing your hands in between completing those tasks and serving those customers,” the local health experts cautioned. “Instead, it is increasing the chance of transmission each time.”
The only times the CDC recommends restaurant workers wear gloves is when serving ready-to-eat food from a serving line or buffet, handling raw food, cleaning or disinfecting or handling chemicals.
Medical experts said disposable gloves are fine for health care workers, who change gloves frequently, but they simply are not necessary or helpful for the average person out running most errands.
Instead, the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 remain wearing a mask, staying at least six feet from non-family members who reside in the same house and frequent hand-washing or hand sanitizer use.