Rub A Dub-Dub

My daughter-in-law went to Costco at the beginning of the week. She said she hadn’t seen that many  people there since the last hurricane warning.

My wife was going to Publix when a friend said to her, “Don’t go. Go to a smaller neighborhood market. It took me a half an hour to check out just a little while ago.”

I went to five pharmacies before I found Kaopectate for my dog. C’mon people. Do you really think a cabinet full of anti-diarrheal is going to stop Corona virus or stop you up if you get it? The answer is no.

Lester Holt on NBC News said not only are shelves being wiped clean, pardon the pun, of hand wipes, sanitizers, and any product that claims potency against germs, that Amazon and Walmart have been inundated with third party sites offering items like Purel for as much as ten or even twenty times the list price. ‘reminds me of the SOB’s after Hurricane Andrew selling water for outrageous sums of money to people who had lost everything except their thirst. (They should have been put in public stocks in the sun.) Welcome to Corona Virus madness.

We’re also having to unlearn things that were hard enough for some to learn in the beginning. How long did it take you to teach your child to cover his/her mouth when coughing or sneezing? Now we cough or sneeze in the crook of our arm, providing your’re limber enough to do that. And no matter where little Johnny or Janice sneezed came the follow up, “Wash your hands.” The child would dutifully slide a piece of soap from the dish, rub it across some part of their hand, and then rinse in off. It took about as long as, “Happy Birthday to…”

And that whole Happy Birthday twice  jazz is totally new to me. I’d like to know which government grant paid to figure out that the competency of the hand wash and the length of the song matched–so long as you sang it twice (hopefully to yourself). There is actually a tutorial out by a group of nurses who have defined eleven steps for the proper hand wash. Or maybe not, maybe we’d be a happier country if Happy Birthday rang out from the men’s and women’s toilets of America while we rub-a-dub-dubbed our hands.


Be that as it may, sing or hum, take your choice, but do it twice and in a measured beat. No rushing through.

Even though the media has been tracking some silly stuff, this is serious business. The silly stuff? It seems that virtually every official who warns, “Do not touch your face!” is seen touching their faces during or after the warning. Our white-haired Solon leading the charge against this microscopic foe has suggested that we give up the hand-shake greeting–while he was photographed shaking hands with world health leaders sharing the briefing stage with him.

And then there is the president, G-d love him. He is sporting a look similar to Alice’s when she realized she wasn’t in Kansas. Dazed? Bewildered? Forget instantaneously contradicting his medical people as soon as they stopped talking. He then offered us hunch’s and the hope for a miracle. That didn’t work for the victims of the so-called Spanish flu pandemic of the 1920’s or the wave of influenza in the mid 1960’s. ‘didn’t help much for Legionnaire’s Disease, Zika, or Ebola either. To be sure, just like the cavalry in the old westerns always arrived so will a vaccine, he posits. However,the vaccine will take a lot longer than the cavalry. The tax coffers were emptied of 800 million dollars designated for vaccine development while big pharma is already telling us about costs and passed along expenses. (Public stocks for them too.) Yes the vaccine is coming but informed commentators tell us the full force of its containment work won’t hit until fall of 2021.

And what to do until then? Buy lots of plain old fashioned soap and wash your hands. If you’re not a singer, twenty seconds is the length of wash time your’re looking for. Carry sanitizing wipes into stores if they don’t have them. Make America Clean Again. Wipe down supermarket cart handles. Wipe down airline arm rests, seats, and trays. Keep wiping: door knobs, touch screens, anything you’re going to touch with your hands and not wash them immediately after them.

As someone right in the middle of the age quadrant of people who get sickest and take longest to recover, I say all this to you for me. But I say it to you for you as well. There’s the case of the lawyer who contracted the virus commuting. He felt fine, no symptoms but he had it. He gets on a train and everyone is potentially exposed. He gets home, tests positive, and in days his wife and children test positive. In the meantime, before they did, he exposed his law office and his house of worship which has been ordered to close and all the congregants who worshiped with him and/or attended special events there the day he worship have been ordered to self-quarantine. The family exposed the neighbors and their school, also ordered closed. The oldest son goes to Yeshiva University which cancelled classes and played a basketball game where no fans were allowed to attend. The message? Each person exposed has the potential to expose an exponential number of people.

Rubber Duckies


Here is the chance for you to be the surgeon your mother always wanted you to be. Watch Chicago Med, New Amsterdam or any good medical TV show. Watch the surgeons scrub: palms, tops of hands, finger by finger, some even use a brush. That’s hand washing. And you know those good for the ecology air dryers? Better to use paper towels. They rub off any germs that might be left that a blower can leave behind. Better of course to blow dry than just shake the water off your hands in any which way.

Soap and water, ladies and gentlemen–at least from my perspective.

Bill Gralnick writes here most every week. His columns can be found on his website as can information on his latest book, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales From Brooklyn–A Half-Life Memoir.” And whenever given the chance, he tell people: Read! It’s good for both of us.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s