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People Are Really Struggling With This Piece of Coronavirus Advice

Go ahead, just try not touching your face
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2020 5:35 PM CST

(Newser) – As the Senate passed an $8.3 billion coronavirus response package Thursday, sending it to President Trump for his signature, a number of outlets are reporting on a piece of advice circulating that's not exactly easy to follow: The CDC recommends people avoid touching their faces in order to protect themselves from transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. While some are apparently pros at this (the president reportedly said Wednesday: "I haven't touched my face in weeks. I miss it," though some were quick to dispute that with photographic evidence), most people are finding it pretty difficult to comply. Read on for more:

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  • NBC News rounds up reactions from people joking that now that they're thinking about not touching their face, it's seemingly all they do. "CDC: don’t touch your face," reads one sample tweet. "My face: Your nose itches. You have an eyebrow out of place. Your cheek itches. You have a sharp booger. Your eye itches. Now your nose itches again."
  • BuzzFeed has a hilarious video of a public health official at a press conference who, almost immediately after warning people to avoid touching their face, licks her finger to turn the page of her notes. That clip is one of five included in this amusing Daily Show roundup of officials touching their face before or after issuing warnings against touching your face.
  • The Washington Post has a similar video featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez discussing precautions during the outbreak while also repeatedly brushing her hair back from her face and scratching her nose; it also rounds up a number of such instances in this video.
  • But NBC also spoke to experts who say the anxiety that has sprung up around face-touching is not helpful. "I think the biggest fear people should have is that this could do a lot of harm to our elderly community," says one. "The biggest irrational fear is ‘Oh, my God, I'm going to get coronavirus, I'm going to die.' Overwhelmingly, the numbers show that's not going to be the case.”
  • Just how often do people typically touch their faces? According to a 2015 study, 23 times per hour on average.
  • If it's important to you to abide by the recommendation, the New York Times has advice (including to keep tissues handy; if you absolutely need to touch your face, use them), as does the Los Angeles Times, which helpfully suggests that if you have an itch you should "try to ignore it." Barring that, it suggests you carry around sterile wooden tongue depressors to use as itch scratchers.
  • What you should most definitely not use to touch your face? Your phone, which Popular Mechanics reminds us all "is a cesspool of germs." It offers up a guide for how to clean it without damaging it; one hint is to use soft lens cleaning cloths.
  • It's also apparently difficult for Italian grandparents to follow the advice that elderly people stay home to contain the spread of the virus; according to the AP, schools are closed across the country, so many of those grandparents are stepping out to watch their grandkids instead, with many of them heading to Italy's playgrounds.
  • If you're avoiding church due to virus fears, this might ease your mind: The AP also reports many US churches are forgoing their usual handshake greetings in order to avoid unnecessary physical contact between congregants.
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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