BETH KALB WAS worried about the pews. This summer, the century-old Catholic church she attends in a small town outside Minneapolis had, like many places, reopened its doors with new rituals of disinfection. Kalb had quickly noticed the side effects. The varnish on the pews had begun to wear, and the wood was often sticky with disinfectant, so the volunteer cleaners had started using soap and water to remove the tacky build-up. They were weeks in, and it had already come to cleaning off the cleaner. Plus, all those chemicals couldn’t be good for the people who were spritzing and wiping down the worship space after each use. As a nurse, Kalb knew the importance of handwashing, but this all seemed like a bit much. It was certainly too much for the wood.

 

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