One of the top public health officials in the nation said people shouldn’t shake hands in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a member of the White House coronavirus task force. During a podcast on Wednesday, Fauci said two of the things that society should change are better hand washing and not shaking people’s hands.
“When you gradually come back, you don’t jump into it with both feet. You say, what are the things you could still do and still approach normal? One of them is absolute compulsive hand-washing. The other is you don’t ever shake anybody’s hands,” Fauci said.
“I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease; it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country.”
COVID-19 is a disease that emerged in China last year. It’s caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. Much of the United States is on lockdown as authorities try to stem the spread of the virus.
Fauci sounded a similar theme when speaking to a reporter on Tuesday: “As a society, just forget about shaking hands. We don’t need to shake hands. We’ve got to break that custom. Because as a matter of fact, that is one of the major ways you can transmit a respiratory-borne illness.”
Fauci said Thursday morning during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show that he was “somewhat serious” when he said Americans might never shake hands again.
“In a perfect world,” that would happen, the doctor said. “That likely will never happen.”
Shaking hands is a common way of greeting people in America. President Donald Trump, a self-described germaphobe, said in the past he usually avoided shaking hands but started to do so once he launched his bid for the presidency.
“People come up to me, they shake hands, they put their hand out. It’s sort of a natural reflex, and we’re all getting out of it. All of us have that problem. Somebody comes up to you, they put their hand out—you probably tend to just shake it. And we’re all getting out of that,” Trump told reporters last month in response to a question on why he was continuing to shake hands.
Other world dignitaries have also abstained from the greeting, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prince Charles. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended event organizers advise attendees not to shake hands.
Daniel M. Parker, an infectious disease epidemiologist and demographer at UC Irvine, told the Los Angeles Times that it’s a good idea to limit skin-to-skin contact.
“If you’re in a situation where it isn’t necessary, I think it would be good to limit handshaking even in the absence of our current situation,” he said.