Can winter clothes be used as PPE? One local expert has the answers


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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – With winter weather arriving in the Twin Tiers, 18 News asked a local expert if scarves and winter gloves could be used for personal protective equipment.

An Infectious Disease Doctor at Arnot Health, Dr. Justin Nistico, said winter gloves can help keep your hands warm and clean, but only with correct usage. He adds that a scarf might provide some protection but isn’t ideal as a mask.

To use gloves as personal protective gear, you must not touch your face after touching surfaces.
Dr. Nistico said winter gloves need to be washed frequently if used as PPE.

“It will afford protection in the sense that you know obviously it’ll keep you warm but when you’re outside the hope is that you wouldn’t touch something and then touch your face, nose, mouth,” said Nistico. “If you touch, like say a surface, if the surface is soiled or whatever you make sure that you could wash those gloves.”

He said in a previous interview with 18 News that wearing gloves is important if someone were to pick up old PPE for disposal.

However, just like with hands, winter gloves also need to be washed after coming into contact with any soiled surfaces.

As for scarves, there are a few reasons why he doesn’t recommend wearing one as a mask. Scarves vary in material from knit to cashmere scarves. They may be too porous for protection. The doctor says especially if you’re indoors, scarves with low filtration will become damp if used as a mask.

“Any face covering that covers the nose, nose and mouth, obviously, is, is better than nothing but if you were to use a scarf for example, it’s not technically going to be 100% protection because you don’t know some people have knit scarves,” said Nistico.

He recommends wearing a face mask instead, especially while indoors. Nistico also recommends against the use of gaiters masks if you can wear a face mask. He says this is due to potentially highly porous design and possibility of more open area with an ill-fitting gaiter.

Dr. Nistico reminds everyone to stay mindful of COVID-19 restrictions for the safety of everyone in the family with the holidays around the corner.

“It’s definitely going to be complicated post holiday season,” said Nistico. “I think because of the fact that even all of the experts out there have been noting the, there will be a spike in cases even more than we see now just because of the gatherings we’re gonna expect. “

Nistico said to take into consideration family members that are vulnerable to COVID-19 before gathering.

As always, social distance and masking up is recommended while indoors keeping in mind those susceptible to the virus.

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