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Nice to Meet You; Pass the Purell

Hospitals, churches, firehouses and even taxi companies are loading up on hand sanitizer, changing behavior and taking other steps to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Bottles of hand sanitizer are within sight of passengers in all 16 taxis operated by Yellow Cab of Iowa City, says accounts manager Roger Bradley.

"It's a small step, but who knows? It might be an effective one," he says. Drivers offer the alcohol-based cleanser to customers and use it themselves.

There's a new rule at Friends For Life, an adult day care in Waco, Texas: "Every time clients pass a hand sanitizer, they've got to use it," says assistant director Anna Stroup.

When people filed into Church of Our Saviour on Sunday in Cocoa Beach, Fla., they bumped fists with priest Sean Heslin instead of shaking hands.

Many workplaces and other spots where people gather urge hand-sanitizer use and frequent hand washing.

Studies don't prove that such steps prevent flu, but "they make sense," says Stephen McCurdy, director of the public health master's degree program at the University of California-Davis.

"If nothing else, they remind people about other things we recommend: Sneeze into your elbow and get a flu shot," he says. He also suggests "social distancing" - avoiding physical contact.

Elsewhere:

Indiana: Magazines were removed from waiting areas and toys aren't being shared at two hospitals run by St. Elizabeth Regional Health in Lafayette.

Kansas: At Wichita's Wesley Medical Center, there's a separate waiting area for patients with flu-like symptoms, says Mark Mosley, emergency room medical director. Chairs, stethoscopes, charts and pens are disinfected after those patients are seen.

North Carolina: The Durham Fire Department doesn't allow tours of living quarters, kids can't climb into truck cabs and tours begin with hand cleansing.

Florida: At Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Cocoa, the communion cup is sidelined, hand sanitizer is used before communion wafers are distributed, and parishioners' "exchange of peace" is suspended.

Utah: Paul Silvestri, head football trainer at the University of Utah, tells players to wash their hands and avoid sharing towels. Hand sanitizers are "all over the building," he says, and even door handles in the training room are sanitized daily.

Contributing: Rebecca Basu, Florida Today

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