Sweaty as they may be, wearing a mask isn’t a problem. Disposable gloves are fine, too, if I’ve got them. I might even wear my sunglasses inside the grocery store, for added eye protection. But is all of that pointless if I run errands in my usual summer uniform of shorts and a tank top?
No, of course not.
Covering yourself in clothes might seem like you’re giving yourself a full-body layer of protection, but that’s not really how the coronavirus works. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no recommendations surrounding what exactly to wear out of the house, save for a cloth face covering. The virus can only get into your body through your eyes, nose and mouth — you could go wading through a pool of virus (hypothetically), and still not get sick so long as you didn’t ingest any of it. Basically, the virus could chill on your skin all day, and ultimately do nothing to you.
The problem is, though, whether clothed or not, our bodies tend to touch other objects. A virus germ on our thigh could transfer onto our grocery bag, then onto our hand and then into our mouth. This is why some experts recommend taking off and washing clothes worn in public spaces upon returning home. The virus can potentially live on fabric for several days, if not washed.
For that reason, clothes aren’t actually any safer than bare skin. The aforementioned transfer process could happen to a leg in jeans or a leg that’s naked. Rather than throwing your clothes in the washer after running errands, if you choose to wear minimal clothing, you’ll need to throw yourself in the shower. If you scrub your body with soap and water, you should be able to kill off any rogue germs on your skin. Even if you do wear more clothes out, showering upon returning isn’t a bad idea.
In any event, it doesn’t matter what you wear out, so long as you put your clothes in the washer or you shower afterward. Unless, for some reason, you just can’t resist licking your own bare skin while out in public. But then, isn’t that why we’re supposed to wear masks in the first place?