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Rubber gloves littering San Diego parking lots as people try to protect themselves from coronavirus

There's a medical term called "fomites" that are inanimate objects that harbor disease - so things like doorknobs and gloves are classic fomites.

SAN DIEGO — People are taking many precautions amid the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak including wearing face masks and rubber gloves. But a disturbing trend has emerged in parking lots of San Diego retail locations - once people are done using the rubber gloves, they're taking them off and just throwing them on the ground.

News 8 visited a big box retailer where employees reported seeing "quite a bit" of discarded gloves. The lot attendant said they have been dealing with the rubber gloves being tossed daily and knows the danger.

"They're obviously dirty... they could possibly be infected," he said. 

Dr. Jyotu Sandu spoke with News 8 about the gloves and if they could be a carrier. They're basically vectors. There's a medical term called "fomites" that are inanimate objects that harbor disease - so things like doorknobs and gloves are classic fomites, according Sandu. 

The lot attendant said they are doing all they can to keep things safe at his store. 

"We're doing all we can to make sure carts are clean, that the handles are clean and everything in the warehouse is wiped down in between each customer," he said. 

For shoppers, it should come down to the basics we were taught at 5 years old. We were told to always "wash our hands" and if we have trash? "throw it away." But people are not doing the basics and by not disposing of the gloves properly they are putting others at risk.

"So they're just basically throwing down things on the ground that are harboring disease that the next person that picks that up has a chance of being infected," said Dr. Sandu. 

The lot attendant had an idea as to why people are making bad choices. 

"Maybe it's panic. It could be people are muddled and confused what the basic things are to do," he said. "As soon as they get to their car they don't want to have anything to do with the gloves so instead of throwing them in the trash they're just throwing them on the ground."

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View all News 8 coverage of coronavirus / COVID-19 
 
News 8 has joined forces with The San Diego Foundation to raise immediate, emergency funds for our most vulnerable neighbors in need. Here is how you can help.  

We also have a Frequently Asked Questions page we will continue updating with the latest information and reports.  

Click here to watch "Facts Not Fear," a News 8 Special on coronavirus from March 26, 2020. 

BACKGROUND  

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.  

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:  

Know how it spreads 

  • There is no vaccine  

  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus 

  • It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact 

  • And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes 

Protect yourself 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds 

  • If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick 

  • Put distance between yourselves and others 

Protect others 

  • Stay home when you are sick 

  • Wear a facemask if you are sick 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash 

  • If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow 

  • Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing  

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe 

You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page. 

The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  

The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses. 

While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders. 

 

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