What to do if you find a mask on the sidewalk

Local

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – You may have been seeing masks and gloves contributing as everyday litter, and although you might just want to pick it up and throw it away, an expert said that’s not a good idea.

The infectious disease physician at Arnot Health, Dr. Justin Nistico, said you don’t want to contaminate yourself.

“What should be done is if it’s in visible view, and you’re able to dispose,” said Nistico. “You have to protect yourself so the thing you don’t want to do is contaminate yourself with anything that could be potentially infectious. Call your local health department, they would help you to guide if you don’t know.”

He said personal protective equipment is dangerous to touch since you don’t know where it’s from.

“You don’t know where, if that masks is not your mask you don’t know where it came from,” said Nistico.”You’re just not sure what is particularly on the mask that could contaminate you.”

Nistico says there’s a potential risk of exposure if you pick up a mask with your bare hands.

“The problem with it is that if you do do that you can expose yourself to say a risk of there being some form of infection from bodily fluids whatnot,” said Nistico. “And if you have a small cut on your hand or if you don’t relize you had a cut, there can be contamination.”

From Dr. Nistico

In fact, at the hospital, they dispose P.P.E. in red biohazard bins separate from regular trash.

However, if you see P.P.E. while taking a walk or in your lawn, you can put on some gloves and pick it up. Afterwards, it can be thrown in a regular trash can according to the doctor. The gloves have to be thrown away as well.

“But remember to wash your hands after you remove those rubber gloves, you have to protect yourself,” said Nistico. “So the thing you don’t want to contaminate is yourself with anything that could be potentially infections.”

Here’s the link to the Chemung County COVID-19 Hotline number if there’s a large amount of P.P.E. you would like to report.

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