The Gross Side Effect of Coronavirus You Didn't See Coming

Shutting down public facilities has led to a proliferation of this perviously private activity.

You've likely read a lot about how dangerous public bathrooms are amid coronavirus. They're highly trafficked, poorly ventilated, and full of touch points prone to unwashed hands, a trifecta of contagion. That's why many public restrooms have been closed amid the pandemic. But there's been one side effect of this that's even more disgusting to think about: Public urination in cities across the nation is on the rise. The New York Post reports a recent scourge of public urination in New York City, particularly as the weather has gotten warmer and more urban citizens are venturing outside.

"There's definitely been an uptick on this street, from what I've seen," one New Yorker told The Post. Another individual added that public urination is a big topic of conversation amongst her friends. "Since the pandemic, I have done it myself in Prospect Park, behind a dumpster in Williamsburg and Greenpoint," she said. "All of the public restrooms like McDonald's and Starbucks are closed. If you are far away from your home, what are you supposed to do?"

In New Jersey, after parks opened in early May, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan issued a warning after an "inordinate amount" of urine and feces was being left behind in water bottles in these public areas. "We understand that the restrooms are closed, but people should plan accordingly and should not be urinating in bottles and leaving them behind," Callahan said.

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But it's not just New Jersey and New York that have been plagued by this gross side effect. "With libraries and park buildings closed due to COVID-19, restrooms at retail establishments generally off-limits, many Chicagoans are finding themselves at a loss if they need to make a pit stop during essential activities such as shopping for supplies or exercising," Chicago's Streetsblog notes.

The lack of public facilities has also come front and center during the recent civil unrest in cities nationwide as a result of the murder of George Floyd. Twitter account @OpenYourLobby urges museums and theaters to make their bathrooms available, creating a spreadsheet of available toilets. And for more on why you should avoid bathrooms, check out The Bathroom Habit That Dangerously Spreads the Coronavirus.

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