Americans are Backsliding on Hygiene Efforts Amid Pandemic

Efforts to curb the transmission of contracting COVID-19 by handwashing has lessened according to an annual survey from Bradley Corp.

Despite the ongoing global pandemic, Americans are backsliding on important hygiene tasks that lessen the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus.

According to the “Healthy Handwashing Survey” conducted in January by Bradley Corp., 57 percent of Americans are washing their hands six or more times a day — that is quite the drop off from the 78 percent of Americans who said they were washing that frequently when the survey was conducted in April of 2020.

The survey, which queried 1,050 American adults (split evenly between men and women from around the country) found that the “rinse-and-run phenomenon” had also increased. In January when respondents were asked if they just rinse their hands with water instead of washing with soap, 48 percent admitted to doing so. In April of 2020, the number of rinsers dipped to a low of 27 percent. The survey noted that the current incidence of “rinsing only” is still better than pre-COVID-19 when 64 percent of Americans said they were likely to take the hand washing shortcut.

The statistics in handwashing are surprising given the fact that 81 percent of Americans are still concerned about contracting the virus. According to the survey, only 53 percent say they wash their hands after returning from a trip outside the home and 38 percent are reminding family members to wash their hands compared to the 54 percent last year.

“Handwashing has been shown to be a simple, safe and effective way to reduce the transmission of viruses and bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19,” said medical microbiologist Michael P. McCann, Ph.D. and professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University. “It is essential that everyone maintain high levels of personal hygiene and that we not relax our guard now that vaccines are becoming available. Washing out hands, wearing masks and practicing social distancing are all easy things that we can and must do as we try to overcome this virus and return to a more normal way of life.”

The survey also asked about the pandemic precautions Americans are taking. Results show that there has been a significant shift since the spring, with mask wearing now the number one action in response to the coronavirus followed by social distancing and then hand washing. In April 2020, wearing a face mask was the fifth most common action.

For more information on this survey, visit this link.

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