During a March 12 appearance on CNN's New Day, Vice President Mike Pence revealed he's shaking hands during the coronavirus outbreak, despite his office's recommendations. Just a few days prior, Pence, who is leading the White House's response to the coronavirus, posted his office's coronavirus advice to Twitter, and "Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting" was at the top of the bullet point list under Practice Good Hygiene. You can find the full list of coronavirus guidelines on the CDC's website.
During Thursday's interview with CNN, he said:
"I'm still shaking hands here at the White House. I'm also washing my hands very regularly through the day, and it's one of the common sense practices that Americans can engage in ... Wash your hands regularly. Clean those often-used surfaces. We're all in this together."
Though Pence dabbled with elbow bumps in a few public appearances, Thursday wasn't the first time he said he was still shaking hands. On Tuesday, he suggested to reporters that for him, honoring someone's attempt to shake his hand is more important than being cautious. "In our line of work you shake hands when someone wants to shake your hand," Pence said, going on to explain that the CDC safety tip was "a broad recommendation for Americans." In his defense, Pence said that he's washing his hands throughout the day.
President Trump seems to be on the same page as Pence. On March 5, at town hall meeting in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Trump said, "you can't be a politician and not shake hands." Though both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have also been shaking hands along the campaign trail, The New York Times reported on March 10 that Biden's team will now “lead by example in following expert advice and complying with reasonable risk mitigations.” Later that week, Biden was seen elbow-bumping in lieu of hand shaking.
According to the CDC, if you're as close as six feet from someone who might be infected with coronavirus, you could catch the virus — so handshakes are out. The virus is also said to stay active on surfaces for up to 72 hours, which means that despite what example the White House is setting, we should be strictly limiting what we touch, in addition to washing our hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds throughout the day.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here.