A new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that roughly 25 percent of Americans don't remember to wash their hands at critical times, such as after sneezing, coughing, and blowing their nose.
In gathering the data, the agency examined hand-washing behaviors via national surveys before and during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Men, young adults aged eighteen to twenty-four, and non-Hispanic White adults were pinpointed in needing hand-hygiene reminders the most often, the report stated.
“These findings underscore the importance of promoting frequent hand-washing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially after coughing, sneezing, and blowing one’s nose,” the report’s authors wrote.
“Men, young adults, and White adults continue to be less likely to remember to wash their hands, despite improvements made from 2019 to 2020.”
The report showed that most individuals remember to wash their hands after using the bathroom. In both 2019 and 2020, more than 85 percent of respondents washed their hands after using the bathroom at home, and 95 percent did likewise after using a public restroom.
In 2019, 63 percent of respondents noted that they washed hands before eating at home, 55 percent did the same at a restaurant, and 53 percent did so after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose.
After the coronavirus outbreak, more people reported washing their hands, but it was still short of where medical experts want the figures to be—74 percent for eating at home, 70 percent for eating at a restaurant, and 71 percent for after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose.
The findings, which were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, also revealed that SARS-CoV-2 was able to easily outlast on human skin the influenza A virus (IAV), which was able to survive for roughly two hours.
The coronavirus was later mixed with mucus to imitate a cough or sneeze, and what the researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine found was that the contagion could survive even longer—about eleven hours.
“This study shows that SARS-CoV-2 may have a higher risk of contact transmission (i.e. transmission from direct contact) than IAV because the first is much more stable on human skin (than the latter),” wrote the study’s authors, who concluded their findings via skin models that used samples of human skin obtained from recent autopsies.
“These findings support the hypothesis that proper hand hygiene is important for the prevention of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.