Oh my god, just wash your hands

Please wash your damn hands. 

It’s 2020 and yes, full grown adults still need to hear it. 

Health officials in Washington confirmed the first death from the new coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, on Saturday. The virus is highly contagious, and as of Saturday, has infected 85,641 people worldwide and is responsible for 2,933 deaths. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

As panic around the virus rises, preventative supplies like face masks and hand sanitizer are becoming increasingly difficult to buy. They’re out of stock in most drugstores and big box stores like Walmart and Target. On Amazon, brands like Purell and Germ-X are only available through third party sellers at high mark-ups. Frustrated shoppers on social media warned others of the hand sanitizer shortage, crowdsourcing lists of stores that still had an inventory. 

But hand sanitizer and face masks can only do so much compared to just washing your fucking hands. 

To prevent the spread of the novel virus, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and washing your hands. The CDC, in fact, “does not recommend that people who are well” even bother with wearing face masks as protection from respiratory diseases like the coronavirus.

While sanitizing with alcohol-based gels like Purell and Germ-X can reduce the number of microbes on your hands, they’re not as effective as decent hand washing. The CDC says that hand sanitizers containing at least 60 percent alcohol are effective to a degree, but people don’t use enough for it to make most microbes inactive. Furthermore, studies show that hand sanitizer isn’t as effective as hand washing to make germs like C-Diff and norovirus inactive. A 2008 study concluded that hand washing reduces respiratory illnesses by 21 percent. 

And besides, you should be washing your hands regularly regardless of whether or not we’re facing a potentially devastating virus outbreak. It’s just good practice, no matter what the state of global health is at the moment. 

Others on Twitter echoed a similar sentiment. 

Despite emphasizing effective hand washing methods since childhood, Americans are still nasty. It’s estimated that 95 percent of people don’t wash their hands effectively, if at all, a 2013 study from Michigan State University concluded. The study found that 7 percent of women didn’t wash their hands, and of those who did, 79 percent used soap. Another 15 percent of men didn’t wash their hands at all, the study found, and only 50 percent of those who did used soap. 

That is disgusting. 

Hand washing shouldn’t be — and really isn’t — that hard. Singing Happy Birthday to yourself twice and gently scrubbing under warm, soapy water takes virtually no time and can prevent major disease spread. But it shouldn’t take the threat of a potential pandemic to get adults to wash their hands after touching public doors or taking a dump. That should just be a societal expectation! This shouldn’t be a public service announcement in the first place! 

Stop being nasty and just wash your hands.