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Regarding using a public bathroom in the middle of a pandemic

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  • Regarding using a public bathroom in the middle of a pandemic

    By Teddy Amenabar
    Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. CDT

    As the holiday season approaches, Americans preparing to travel hundreds of miles to see family or friends may notice a green mile marker off in the distance: Public restrooms are ahead.

    Using shared bathrooms at gas stations, train stations, rest stops and restaurants during long road trips is inevitable. But restrooms are typically small, poorly ventilated spaces — the exact type of environment public health experts say Americans should avoid to reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

    ... Bathrooms first made a splash in June when scientists illustratedhow a toilet flush can send a plume of aerosolized droplets up to three feet in the air — almost like a human sneeze, said Chuck Gerba, an environmental microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona.

    Traces of viral RNA from the novel coronavirus have regularly been found in the feces and urine of covid-19 patients. But evidence of the virus’s genetic material doesn’t mean the virus is still infectious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports it is “unclear whether the virus found in feces may be capable of causing covid-19.”

    "Toilet plumes" made headlines earlier in the pandemic, but experts say public bathrooms only require the usual precautions: Wear a mask and wash your hands.