Kentuckians' daily routines are changing with the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.
If you're heading for an appointment at a Lexington Clinic office, for example, you'll need to bring your own reading material and entertainment for the kids: Magazines and toys have been removed from the waiting rooms.
You won't be shaking hands with your fellow churchgoers at Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church during the part of the service where congregants traditionally greet one another. You might be urged to flash a peace sign instead. Or you might fist-bump your congregational buddies. During one children's sermon, minister Woody Berry taught the church's kids the "batwing" cough — hacking into a crooked arm.
That's not unusual: Workers at Toyota in Georgetown are also being taught the now ubiquitous cough-into-the-arm routine said to reduce the distribution of germs into the air.
Some students with the flu at Berea College will move into a special flu isolation house. When the flu-house students — currently numbering 13 — clock 24 hours without a fever or other symptoms, they can go back to their dormitories.
Hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere, including Lexington city government buildings. At the Toyota plant, "I can see the canister from where my desk is," spokesman Rick Hesterberg said.
(Hand sanitizer sales nationwide spiked 50 percent in August compared with the same month last year, according to Information Resources Inc. of Chicago. Gojo Industries of Ohio, which invented Purell and makes the version of the hand sanitizer used in hospitals and schools, asked its customers last week not to hoard the product.)
At Lexington Clinic, patients can use lobby "sanitizer stations" that feature signs about covering your cough and stock sanitizer and masks — an idea the medical complex adopted after seeing it in American Medical News, according to Pam Heet, senior director of operations and business development at Lexington Clinic.
Churches ranging from St. Mark Roman Catholic Church in Richmond to Maxwell Street Presbyterian in Lexington also have added hand sanitizing stations.
As the Rev. James Sichko of St. Mark wryly put it in an e-mail: "We have ... placed hand sanitizer stations at the entrance of our sacred space."
Berry, the senior minister at Maxwell Street Presbyterian, said he's blunt about disease control during services: "The first thing I say is, 'If you have the flu, go home right now ... and if you're worried about anything, put your hands in your pockets.'"
Berry adopted different greetings on Sundays "just to remind people what's going on — just to keep people aware of it," he said.
Besides, he notes, "hugging is safer than shaking hands."
Although hand sanitizer has always been available at libraries, spokesman Doug Tattershall said it is now "front and center."
Some soft toys have been removed from children's library areas as a precaution, Tattershall said, adding that "we're not wiping down books or anything, and we're really not hearing a lot of concern from customers generally."
Berea College and Toyota have pandemic committees that plan what will happen if the H1N1 situations in Kentucky worsens.
Kroger spokesman Tim McGurk said that although the sanitary wipes at the entrance to stores have been available for more than three years, "They certainly are getting more attention and more use now."
Students who have flu symptoms at Berea College are kept in a separate waiting area of student health services. And those who can't go home to recover are asked to avoid contact with other students and can go to one of the school's two houses for students who have flu, said news and information manager Julie Sowell: "We have special linens that are just for those houses; meals are brought in ... (and) our staff check on them through the day to make sure everyone's OK."