Social Question

zenvelo's avatar

Whatever happened to "don't touch your face"?

Asked by zenvelo (35168points) 1 month ago

Back in February, as people started carrying hand sanitizer everywhere, and people were practicing singing Happy Birthday while washing their hands, we kept being told, “don’t touch your face.”

But if you look at today’s Google doodle, the general guidelines are:
Wear a mask.Save lives.
Wear a face cover
Wash your hands
Keep a safe distance

No more mention of not touching your face. Was that ineffective? A waste of time? Or just a realization that people can’t help it?

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14 Answers

raum's avatar

Back in February, they were still saying that masks weren’t needed. (Unless you were an essential worker.)

Perhaps the consolidation of messaging is hoping a mask will prevent you from touching your face?

Demosthenes's avatar

Ironically, having a mask on causes me to touch my face constantly because the mask is uncomfortable and I’m always adjusting it. I doubt I’m the only one too.

Soubresaut's avatar

I would guess it’s a combination of masks providing a physical barrier between hands and face (nose and mouth at least) so they are kind of helping with that part, an understanding that the virus is more likely transmitted via air than surfaces, and an attempt to keep the list of things “short” to try and improve widespread messaging and buy-in.

It’s not that not touching your face isn’t still good practice (probably don’t want to be rubbing your eyes while you’re running errands), it’s just that in theory, if you keep a distance from other people, wear a mask when you’re out, and wash your hands as soon as you’re out of public and remove your mask, you’ve avoided the situations where touching your face is especially risky.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
gorillapaws's avatar

@Demosthenes “Ironically, having a mask on causes me to touch my face constantly because the mask is uncomfortable and I’m always adjusting it. I doubt I’m the only one too.”

I is my understanding that this is part of why they said for the public not to wear masks (the public has no formal training) in the early days. It was also to preserve PPE in a phase where there was a ton of uncertainty about the transmissiblity of the virus. I am also under the impression that at this time the belief among researchers is that COVID-19 is mostly being spread through droplets and aerosols and less from surface contamination (as originally feared).

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I’m not an anti-masker by a long shot, but the guidelines and some of the precautions are more of a nightmare than a help, I think. I see SO many people who are wearing masks improperly, constantly touching their faces, I understand that the evidence says masks work but it defies logic to me. I feel the same about the stores with the arrows in the aisles which create confusion and keep people in stores longer (and can’t actually be doing anything to reduce transmission of disease).

A lot of this stuff feels like it’s supposed to make us “feel” safer rather than actually being safer. The big problem here is that it fuels the actual anti-masker crowd who doubt the validity of ANY of the necessary precautions because it’s been bungled so bad and half of it sounds like bullshit that the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater. I don’t even blame some of them.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf “I understand that the evidence says masks work but it defies logic to me.”

If I whip out my penis and urinate, it will travel a good 5 feet at least, and splash even further than that; if I urinate with my underwear on, it contains the urine stream to my pants and immediate surrounding. Droplets and (to a lesser degree) aerosols work in the same manner. Masks limit the distance and viral load an infected person can emit their particles into the community.

That’s the logic.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@gorillapaws I work in the medical field, I understand why masks work. I’m saying that with how many people (the majority in my area) wear them improperly and seem to be constantly touching their face with a mask on, it seems counterproductive in some ways. Again. I wear a mask. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t.

gorillapaws's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf If people are washing/sanitizing their hands regularly, then they’re still better off, even if they touch their face.

You’re trading the risk management of surface contaminants and airborne particles (which is more difficult), for just surface contaminants. Social distancing and universal mask wearing mostly eliminate the risk of airborne transmission.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@gorillapaws I can’t imagine that you’re telling @ANef_is_Enuf anything she doesn’t already know. She’s just pointing out that improper mask use comes with its own risks (even if they are outweighed by the benefits). Someone who never touches their face under normal circumstances but touches their face a lot when wearing a mask isn’t trading two risks for one. They are trading one risk for a different one. It turns out that they are trading a bigger risk for a smaller one, which is definitely a worthwhile trade to make. But like so many trades, it comes with a trade-off.

gorillapaws's avatar

@SavoirFaire I was responding to the “defies logic” statement. I disagree, there is clearly a logical reasoning behind mask wearing.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@gorillapaws “I was responding to the ‘defies logic’ statement.”

But you were responding to it out of context. What “defies logic” is not how masks work, that they work, or why we should wear them. So what you claim to be disagreeing with is something that wasn’t even said.

gorillapaws's avatar

@SavoirFaire I see your point. I misinterpreted her statement. Apologies.

dabbler's avatar

“Back in February, they were still saying that masks weren’t needed.”
Back in February, we were told not to buy N95 masks because there were not at all enough of them for hospital workers and first-responders and others who really really needed them.

Now we know more about transmission of COVID-19 and it turns out that fomite transmission, pathogen on surfaces, is almost not a thing with this virus. Nobody is know to have gotten it by picking it up from a surface. So don’t touch your face is not hardly as important as it seemed initially.

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