Americans are washing their hands much more than they did before the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but there’s still one group who is least likely to adhere to that guidance that washing hands helps protect us from the virus: young white men.
Long before the general public knew anything about what COVID was or how long it was going to stay, public health authorities advised Americans to wash their hands. Many of us can even remember growing up that teachers, doctors and health officials alike all encouraged us to wash our hands frequently. The CDC and other agencies also offered detailed seminars on how to do so properly.
Still, handwashing is considered an essential aspect of good hygiene, whether during a pandemic or not.
This news shouldn’t be surprising since some white men have been vocal, including President Trump, about their resistance to mask-wearing.
When the pandemic first arrived in the United States early in 2020, it quickly became clear that many Americans were simply not washing their hands regularly. Comments on social media spread like wildfire about those they observed in public restrooms who didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. And even those who were washing their hands often, weren’t doing it properly.
According to the CDC, fewer than three-quarters of Americans are washing their hands after coughing or sneezing, or in situations where they handle food.
What will it take for more people, including this group of young white men to wash their hands more frequently?
After all, over 200,000 people have already died from this disease that they say can be prevented if we do the three things they recommended: washing hands frequently, wearing a mask, and keeping your distance when needed.
“Because older adults, Black persons, and Hispanic persons have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, engagement in preventive behaviors by these persons is particularly important,” reports the CDC.
“Public health efforts should promote frequent handwashing for all, with attention to tailoring messaging to men, young adults, and non-Hispanic White adults,” encourages the CDC. “Particular focus should be placed on encouraging handwashing at important times such as before eating and after experiencing respiratory symptoms.”
So how are people washing their hands wrong?
The CDC recommends these four steps (that many are getting wrong):
1.) Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Why? Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should