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COVID-19 cautious? Don’t leave your litter for others

By Staff | Apr 16, 2020

While going out for essential items during the COVID-19 outbreak, the public can be anxious about trips to the grocery store or to go pick up their prescription.

Some residents in Cape Coral are making that experience an even more stressful one, at least for others, by leaving their used gloves or masks on the ground in parking lots after shopping.

The Cape Coral Police Department is cracking down on those who litter in lots, on the lookout for shoppers dropping their gloves at their feet before getting into their vehicle.

“We have officers that are monitoring parking lots of essential stores in an attempt to make sure people are social distancing or not creating a disturbance,” said CCPD spokesperson, Master Sgt. Patrick O’Grady. “The officers are also checking to make sure people are not discarding their masks or latex gloves on the ground. This is not only a safety hazard, but it is disgusting that people have to be reminded to not litter their safety equipment.”

CCPD will implement fines for residents who discard of their gloves, or other trash, in an improper manner.

The fine for the first offense is $100, second $250, third $500 and the fourth will be considered a misdemeanor and will face arrest.

Though O’Grady said CCPD has not had an influx of calls about residents littering, he himself has been to the grocery store and seen gloves scattered in parking lots.

CCPD has also spoken with workers of essential businesses who are “angry and disgusted” with the way people are leaving their personal protective equipment on the ground or even inside of their business.

Cape Coral resident Amber Johnson said she is tired of picking up people’s used gloves in grocery and big box parking lots.

“(These businesses) are littered with gloves,” Johnson said. “I picked up at least 30 gloves on the ground in one small section of the parking lot.

“You take the precaution to protect yourself, but when you throw your gloves on the ground, you’re basically saying, ‘I don’t care anymore.’ It makes me shake my head.”

Johnson, of course, is wearing gloves of her own when picking up after those who litter. She said she’s even seen them thrown in carts and on the roadways.

She admits not all parking lots have this issue, for instance, most Publix she said she’s visited in the Cape are trash-free.

Johnson said she picks up the gloves because she cares about the environment, and wants Florida to be a destination, not somewhere known for its sloppy residents.

“I love the planet earth and I want to keep it as clean as possible,” she said. “I hate littering. I just can’t stand it. It also makes the businesses and city look bad. I’m sure picking up gloves is the last thing on employees’ minds.”

These protective gloves can also be colorful, many in different shades of blue, which could be attractive to a small child who could pick one up for a moment walking through a parking lot without a parent having any idea.

“Kids could be walking down the street, pick up a glove, and contract something,” Johnson said. “You never know.”

Gloves on the ground could also attract birds that could try to eat the latex substance or transport them to different areas.

Johnson’s message to residents?

“Pick up after yourself,” she said. “We’ve all been taught to pick up after ourselves. If you can walk around Walmart for two hours, why all of a sudden do you then get lazy? Aren’t you proud of our state? Don’t you want people to keep coming?”

Lee Heath Chief Patient Care Officer Lisa Sgarlata said the improper disposal of gloves is irresponsible on many levels.

“There have been numerous news stories from around the state and country of people discarding masks and gloves in places like grocery parking lots and gutters. Not only is this an environmental hazard, but could also create a health hazard for maintenance workers who work to keep our community clean,” she said. “We ask that if you wear gloves and masks in public, please find a trash can to dispose of them.”

– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj