Crumpled up facemasks and a rainbow of rolled up latex gloves are littering parking lots and streets throughout Massachusetts as people try to stay protected and protect others amid the coronavirus outbreak.
While most of these items of personal protective equipment, or PPE, are disposable products, officials warn they shouldn’t be disposed of outside. And the city of Worcester is pushing to stop it.
“Discarded gloves and masks all over the city -- this really is unnecessary and irresponsible behavior,” Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus said.
Worcester’s Department of Public Works released this video Monday to encourage the proper disposal of not only masks and gloves, but also household trash.
“If residents could please tie their bags, make sure that any of their bathroom trash, like their tissues or whatever they’re using because they’re sick, so it’s less likely for us to touch whatever is contaminated,” Worcester DPW worker Matt Zielonka says in the video.
Augustus said, “People wearing the masks, wearing the gloves, that’s great, but there’s a proper way of disposing of them that doesn’t endanger city workers or some other workers who may have to come and clean up those masks and gloves.”
Augustus said that, while street sweepers will clean up some of the discarded PPE, in the interim the littered masks and gloves could actually be spreading coronavirus germs to others when they’re stepped on or blowing around in the wind.
“You’re really defeating the purpose of wearing a mask by discarding it and leaving it for somebody else to come upon,” Augustus said.
When you’re done using your mask and gloves, dispose of them properly.
Many grocery stores have put out trash cans – or you can bring your own baggie to seal them up and throw them away when you get home.