Did Covid Changed Our Hygiene?


Now called PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), these items have become a staple in most homes, schools and businesses since the Covid-19 pandemic began. But how often are they being used two years after the pandemic ended?

By: Asher Ramires, Reporter

COVID-19 changed our entire perception of the world, from how we relate to how we sanitize ourselves. This has had a great impact on people’s physical and mental health.

How Has Covid Affected Us?

The pandemic has been associated with different mental problems such as depression and anxiety. This affected patients with pre-existing mental illnesses too much, worsening their symptoms and raising anxiety and stress levels.

Dr. Joel Ferris, psychologist and psychology teacher from Colonia High School, said, “If people isolate themselves as we have during Covid, the symptoms start to develop more and more. People didn’t have the outlets that they normally would, so they got aggravated or made whatever it was they had worse.”

COVID-19 prevention measures have become security rituals for some people. Compulsive hand washing and obsessive hygiene became the key to developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Obsessive-compulsive disorder is irrational thoughts or fears that trigger compulsive behaviors. This presents repetitive behaviors that affect the daily life of the individual.

Ferris also explained the effects that Covid had on the psychology field, “Many of my co-workers, other people who are in psychotherapy, we all talk about how we all developed things we didn’t have before. Unfortunately, a lot of therapists left the field because of the things that happened during covid. Some of them retired and others are working in something else, because of how it made us feel. We were trying to maintain everyone’s mental health at the same time we were trying to maintain our own mental health.”

Tina Tran, a patient with OCD shared how the pandemic affected their life, “OCD isn’t really necessarily having to focus on hygiene, more of a forced obsession and cycle. With the pandemic, I became more obsessed with following a specific schedule than I ever had before, that could be considered hygienic if not self-destructive.”

OCD symptoms increased by a 54.1% during the pandemic. In addition to that, a study published in January 2021 by The Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews, showed that 65% of OCD patients experienced a worsening of their symptoms during this period time.

I’d wake up, drink two bottles of water, brush my teeth, and lay back in bed; I maintained a nearly blank state of mind. Not eating, not looking at my phone, just maintaining this careful bubble. Anything that poses a danger to it, caused me to lash out. Washing my hands, and wearing a mask, I feel can feel a layer of germs on my face if I can’t do one or another.”

Did Covid-19 Affect How We Hygiene?

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Americans were washing their hands around 10 times a day.

The Healthy Handwashing survey from Bradley Corporations, the cleanliness of our hands has decreased by 25% since the coronavirus began.

41% of the population fears contracting the virus. Only 36% continue to avoid touching the hands of others; 44% wave as a method of greeting. Sanitizing has become the norm as 78% of Americans report being more aware of germs and viruses.

An article published by The National Library Of Medicine showed that the consumption of bar soap decreased by 20.4% as the consumption of liquid soap increased from 23.5 to 41.3%. The use of these products and the constancy of consumption also presented an increase.

Are We Going Back to Normal?

As winter approaches, concerns about a resurgence of covid and flu grow higher and higher. The United States is facing an early outbreak of the flu, which normally sees an increase during late December.

RSV infections occupied about 75% of the country’s 40,000 pediatric beds, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Kids weren’t able to develop their immune systems because of their low exposure to other viruses due to quarantine. However, Pfizer announced that its RSV vaccine showed 82% efficacy against respiratory diseases in 3-month-old babies. This could be the first RSV vaccine.

Joanne Beebee, a nurse from Colonia High School said, “People are not wearing masks, people are not using hand sanitizer nor they are washing their hands as much as they were.” Her advice to prevent the spread of viruses and stay safe is the following, ” Get the vaccines, wash your hands, if you are sick stay home, if you are coughing, wear a mask.”