ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo just got a new title — potty trainer-in-chief.
The governor joined with state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on Wednesday to lay out exactly how people should use the bathroom in the age of coronavirus, as they warned people to stand back from lidless public toilets after flushing them.
Zucker said at a press conference that people should always close the lid when flushing a toilet — since COVID-19 can be carried in the little droplets that rise into the air after a flush — but acknowledged that it’s sometime impossible to do that in public restrooms.
“I’m not a plumber, but I will tell you a couple of things — one is that the virus can spread through fecal contamination, and you should keep the lid down,” Zucker said.
“On the issue of lidless toilets, so now the issue of multiple stalls so people are suggesting that you distance even there — so someone’s in one stall — now, you have to use the middle one, over to the next one for those lidless toilets. But the toilet covers should be down, independent of what your spouse says.”
When the bathroom question was first brought up by a reporter, Cuomo was taken aback.
“Can I tell you something? I have done probably 300 hours of public briefings and received 59 million viewers, just on the internet watching the briefings and they send me a lot of questions,” the governor told a reporter during a briefing in Manhattan.
“I think this is the first time I have been truly stumped by a question … I really feel ashamed — but I do not know, I don’t even know where to start with this question,” he laughed, before turning to Zucker.
“Luckily, that’s why I bring my able health commissioner because he, not only is he a great medical doctor, but he is up on all public health and hygiene issues including appropriate facilities, Dr. Zucker!”
After Zucker warned about staying away from lidless toilets, Cuomo begged him for a follow-up: “Are you saying there is socially distanced, socially distance should also be carried forward into, uh, lavatory settings?”
“So the recommendation, you should be away from, like if someone’s in one stall and you flush that stall and the worry is that things will just spray –” revealed Zucker.
“Make a note … you heard it here first!” Cuomo exclaimed before wrapping up and ending the briefing.
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