by Christiaan Morssink

In frustration, I am shaking my fist at the SARS-COV-2 and at a much too large bunch of dysfunctional politicians on this planet earth. But what good is shaking a fist if you cannot make it into an uppercut. SARS-COV-2 doesn’t care, and those politicians would have me arrested in a heartbeat. 

Nay, better to shake hands with the health professionals who work for the people’s health, often putting their own on the line. And shake hands with those we now call essential workers. Thank you all indeed. To paraphrase Indira Gandhi, you need to unclench your fist in order to shake hands. So, let me get the stress out and the empathy in. 

 But….? Should we shake hands? It seems dangerous in this day and age. Better to engage in elbowing and feeling awkward about it.  No need though; you elbow to greet, not to get ahead. We are all aware of the dangers lurking in hand contact. Who knows where your hand has been, and what it touched; whether you have washed it, washed it properly, and dried it with clean towels? Indeed, we are becoming acutely aware about the many times we use our tentacles on surfaces that we do not know if they are clean, be free of viruses, including that SARS-COV-2.

My wife makes me wash my hands when I touch the mail. When I come home with groceries. And the re-usable grocery bags are hung outside for three days before they will be used again. I already wash my hands when cooking, during cooking and again when cleaning.  And nowadays, you make sure to do so twenty seconds at least, with soap, and don’t wipe your hands on your pants!!!

 I am lucky. I know why I am washing my hands; I have two hands, both in reasonably functional condition. I have access to soap and money to buy more when needed. I have running water, that is warm and does not run out after 20 or 30 seconds. And I have enough towels that I can rotate them frequently and wash them in the laundry, being assured that they are free of dirt and viruses. 

I am also convinced that I do NOT have to become surgical in my handwashing rituals, and I am reading up on how to protect your skin when you get exposed to too much washing.

Yet so many people are not that lucky. They are without water, or soap, or both; they may lack towels, and their pants may need a wash as well. Many of them know that they are lacking. Many are frustrated. And now, with the SARS-COV-2 at the pandemic level, they are also fearful, and they should be.  They have way more reasons than I to shake their fists to those politicians. So, in solidarity, I will shake my fist again. 

5 top towel hygiene tips:
Wash towels after 2 days of use. Regularly washing towels will expel bacteria on the towel.
Wash towels in hot water so that all the microorganisms are removed.
After every use, allow towels to completely dry out. Rotate your towels to give wet towels time to dry.
Do not share your towels with family members. Everybody should have a separate towel to discourage the spread of bacteria between people.
Avoid hanging towels to dry on the same hook/bar. Spread them out separately so that as much surface area exposed as possible.

170 Christy England – April 8, 2020

Christiaan (with two a’s) Morssink volunteers as the president of the Global Water Alliance. A public health policy professional with Dutch roots and strong traveling habits, he has become a water worrier of sorts, not only because good water is needed everywhere for the public’s health but also to assure good quality local brews. And coffee, and tea, of course.