To stop the spread of the coronavirus, governments are quarantining almost one billion people, demanding that some stay completely isolated, recommending self-quarantining to anyone who has traveled near outbreak hot spots, and vigilantly screening people who travel through airports.
But there’s a much simpler, more common way to stop the spread. Have people wash their hands.
Health officials around the world advise that deliberate, regular hand washing is one of the best weapons against the virus which causes a flu-like respiratory illness that can kill and has spread to around 80 countries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even has an online fact sheet about the activity.
Unfortunately, we’re not equally committed to this low-tech, high-impact method of keeping germs at bay. When it comes to hand washing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 31% of men wash their hands after using a public restroom. Women are more than twice as likely to wash up, with 65% washing their hands after using a public restroom.
The British Library put up more posters in restrooms reminding men to wash their hands.
A 2013 Michigan State University study found that:
“Women wash their hands significantly more often, use soap more often, and wash their hands somewhat longer than men.”
The study also found 14.6% of men did not wash their hands at all after using the bathroom and 35.1% wet their hands but did not use soap, compared to 7.1% and 15.1% of women, respectively.
A New York City public relations executive said that:
“If you stand in the men’s bathroom at work, and watch men leave, they mostly don’t wash their hands if they used the urinal.”
Of course, who wants to be the one standing at the edge of the public restroom watching men after using urinals?