When the pandemic began a year ago, we were constantly reminded of the importance of handwashing. There were how-to videos (like ours) and even websites that turned favorite songs into handwashing timers (found here). Though it has been a long year, the pandemic is still ongoing and handwashing is still just as important. Clean hands are the first and most important step to staying healthy, and we all want that.
In April 2020, 78% of Americans were washing their hands six or more times a day. In January of 2021, only 57% were*. While 81% of Americans today still say they are concerned about the Coronavirus*, It appears people are letting their guard down.
Handwashing is a safe & effective way to reduce the amount and transmission of harmful germs that can cause illness, such as the flu and COVID-19. And as we know from years of experience, just because vaccines become available, that does not mean we can relax.
In a January 2021 survey,48% of people admitted to rinsing their hands with water only* But rinsing with just water alone has very limited benefits. Most (many?) Americans feel that handwashing is better at killing germs than hand sanitizer*. This is partially correct. The fact is proper handwashing with a quality gentle soap doesn’t kill germs that can make you sick, but rather washes those germs away from your skin and down the drain. The CDC recommends instant hand sanitizer whenever soap and water are not available.
It seems that just about everyone is ready for things to go back to normal, and the good news is more people than ever are working to slow the spread of Covid-19. Mask wearing is up 64% in 2021, compared to only 24% last April*. And Americans are taking the top three recommended preventative actions seriously, by masking up, social distancing, and properly washing their hands. All three remain a priority as we work to move past Covid-19, but ongoing proper handwashing will help us all stay healthy for years to come.
For now, we don’t really shake hands. We wave to our friends, we fist-bump, or we give out air hugs. But this does not have to be the new normal. As long as we continue to work together and make the effort, we can keep ourselves and others safe and healthy. Wash your hands, and sing a song if you must, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If we continue to practice good hygiene, soon we can all be together.