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Gloves on grocery workers - not a great idea | READER COMMENTARY

A shopper wears gloves upon entering a Stop & Shop supermarket during hours open daily only for seniors Thursday, March 19, 2020, in North Providence, R.I. Should store clerks be required to wear them, too?
A shopper wears gloves upon entering a Stop & Shop supermarket during hours open daily only for seniors Thursday, March 19, 2020, in North Providence, R.I. Should store clerks be required to wear them, too?(David Goldman/AP)

While many customers take comfort in cashiers wearing gloves, (“Grocery and drug store employees should be wearing gloves,” March 17), they are simply not as effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 as we’d like to think. In a hospital setting, the doctor puts on the gloves within a sterile environment immediately preceding a surgery. They then remove the gloves immediately post-surgery. The doctor does not wear these same gloves during their next surgery. Because of this careful attention to detail in procedure, the doctor’s use of gloves is effective.

The same intensive care is not feasible within fast-paced, crowded grocery stores. Say a cashier rings up a few orders with gloves on. In the process, he or she touches a box of cereal which a customer with COVID-19 coughed on. The gloves now carry the virus. When ringing up the next order, the gloves transfer the virus to the next customer’s pasta box, just as the employee’s hands would have. In this circumstance, the gloves offer no benefit.

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Furthermore, yesterday at the Wholefoods in Columbia, I saw a cashier use her gloved hand to eat a small item from the bakery, the glove coming in contact with her mouth in the process. She then wore this same glove to ring up multiple orders. If she was a carrier of COVID-19, the gloves would spread the virus just as her hands would have.

Additionally, if the store itself is not providing the gloves, some may consider it unreasonable to expect minimum-wage employees to provide their own gloves, especially considering shortages and price gouging. Yes, wearing gloves may be better than nothing, in some cases. But does that small benefit warrant the mass use of gloves which may lead to a shortage that would negatively impact the health care officials who truly need them?

Maria Rew, Columbia

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