Health officials including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised people to avoid unnecessary contact while the coronavirus threat remains prominent. This includes classic greetings habits such as the handshake, an extremely common behavior in western-influenced societies like the United States.
“We’re more attentive of surfaces and that every surface we touch in our daily lives is covered in microbes,” Carleton University researcher Sheryl Hamilton told WIRED. “
Old habits die hard, however. After it was reported that an individual who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference tested positive for coronavirus, Texas Senator Ted Cruz self-quarantined. The Republican lawmaker reportedly shook hands with the individual, but maintains he has not experienced any symptoms.
“I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy,” Cruz said in a statement. “Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and that I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low.”
Other famous attendees including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence did not have any contact with the same individual.
So, is this truly the end of the handshake? For the time being, it isn’t the worst idea. Health officials may further warn us to also scrap other physical greeting gestures, including the aforementioned fist bump and elbow bump.
At the time of writing, coronavirus has infected over 109,000 people around the planet, and killed just over 3,900. Countries like Italy have closed their borders and instated strict travel bans. As of now, there are no plans to implement similar restrictions in the United States, where the virus has spread more slowly.
Be sure to check the CDC’s website for the latest official updates on coronavirus in the United States.