Practice called ‘unhygienic and disrespectful,’ since some disabled people may not have the option to use something other than their hands to operate the buttons
Some people, during our COVID-19 times, creatively use anything they can to avoid touching an automatic door opener.
One wheelchair user just wishes they would stop.
“I use a wheelchair,” buckyhermit posted on reddit.com’s Vancouver community site on Sunday with the heading “Please don’t kick automatic door buttons.” He or she said wheelchair users sometimes can only reach the buttons with their hands.
“If the bottom of your feet has touched that button, that is negating any efforts I’m making to keep my hands clean,” the post continued.
Buckyhermit, who pointed out “many” wheelchair users fall into the high-risk health category, said someone recently had crushed a cigarette and then used the same foot to press the door button, meaning the person left a “combination of saliva and whatever crap is in those cigarettes right on the button that I’d need to touch. COVID or not, that is disgusting.”
“I would really appreciate it if people used their elbows, hips or literally any other part of their body to press those buttons,” buckyhermit wrote. “Just not your feet.”
The practice is “unhygienic and disrespectful,” especially since those using a wheelchair may not have the option to use something other than their hands to operate the buttons, said Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance of B.C.
“I don’t think people are doing it in a malicious way or trying to be harmful,” she said. “It’s probably just more convenient and the easiest way to do it. A lot of people don’t think about it.”
Almost 24 hours later, the reddit post had been voted on more than 3,800 times, 94 per cent of them “upvotes,” and got more than 350 comments, many of them a mea culpa.
“Wow, I do this, I won’t anymore,” said Xiom2112. “Thanks for speaking out, I wasn’t aware.”
“I kicked buttons before,” said numerotu. “After reading this, I’m sorry and will use an elbow from now on. Truly sorry.”
“I use my knee, use your knees, people,” posted IMPRNTD.
But another poster, bacan9, said, “You do realize feet/shoe soles are often the cleanest, in terms of bacteria/germs/viruses. The constant friction means that nothing can survive, You are more likely to get infected from someone’s elbow, hands, etc.”
The World Health Organization in April announced the likelihood of COVID-19 being spread on shoes to infect others is low. But it suggested people may want to take shoes off and leave them outside as a precaution.
A study done by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control at Wuhan hospitals in China showed the virus can survive on shoe bottoms. But the amount of viral material found on shoes was less than one per cent of the initial amount, and it wasn’t known if the amount was enough to infect someone.
And clevelandclinic.org says: “While it’s possible for the virus to live on your shoes, it’s very unlikely for it to be transmitted to you unless you directly touch the infected area and then touch your face.”
The virus is mainly spread person to person through the transmission of droplets that come out of a sick person’s mouth when they cough, sneeze or talk.
Another poster named HAWKING was sympathetic to buckyhermit, but said “it is tough to change everyone, there will always be the risk,” suggesting using a stick or pole to push the buttons to keep safe, while poster CHANROBI suggested wearing gloves.
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