As the COVID-19 pandemic continues—and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon—technology companies are starting to get in on the new normal. Most of us learned to wash our hands before kindergarten, but time and complacency can easily take over. Many people were surprised to realize that washing their hands for 20 seconds (the CDC recommendation for killing the coronavirus) is a lot longer than they imagined it to be. Memes circulated around the internet suggesting 20-second songs (or portions of songs) to sing while handwashing.
Technology takes on handwashing
If you’re not willing to count to 20 or sing to yourself while you’re washing your hands, the new Apple watchOS 7 update has a new feature you’ll appreciate. When the watch detects that you’re washing your hands, either by handwashing motions, the sound of running water or both, it will keep track of how long you’re doing it. If you start to dry off before 20 seconds is up, the watch will prompt you to keep going.
Before you dismiss this as paternalistic or unnecessary, you might be surprised to know that this is getting the thumbs up from key industries. Some experts are predicting that this feature will be popular in the healthcare industry, since even healthcare workers have a hard time keeping up with the 20 seconds recommendation—and those are the folks on the front lines of the pandemic, who know the seriousness of killing the virus. If handwashing for 20 seconds is difficult for them, what hope is there for the rest of us?
One thing to consider, however: in addition to washing your hands thoroughly, you’ll also need to disinfect your Apple watch. Viruses don’t discriminate against surfaces to land on, and your wrist is close enough to your hand to accidentally spread the virus by touching your face.
If you have a different kind of smart watch, fear not—there are apps designed to address this issue for Android and other operating systems, so you too can have a helpful handwashing reminder.
In slightly lighter news, in the latest Apple Watch handwashing-related update, the company is also offering Memojis with face mask options. If that’s not a sign that COVID-19 is here for the foreseeable future, what is?
CDC handwashing guidelines
In case you’ve missed the CDC’s handwashing guidelines, the importance of washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can’t be understated. The soap attacks the protective lipid layer of the virus, destroying its structure and rendering it harmless. Washing for 20 seconds is the only way to guarantee that you have cleaned long enough to kill the virus. Any type of soap is fine—breaking the lipid structure is what counts, not special antibacterial or anti-pathogen properties. Make sure to wash your hands anytime you come into contact with the outside world, and avoid touching your face.
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