President Donald Trump, who spent the weekend with at least one person who has since tested positive for the novel coronavirus, violated one major rule his public health officials have advised against—by shaking several people’s hands during a Friday press conference to announce a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump also repeatedly manhandled the microphone as he explained his decision to declare a national emergency to allow the government to marshal more resources to cities and states struggling to contain the spread of the virus.
According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump shook hands, patted backs and touched the microphone at the White House lectern at least 31 times Friday. The Post notes that over the past week, Trump has interacted with or been close to at least three people who were infected with the virus or who themselves interacted with virus-infected individuals.
a minute's worth of footage of trump and health-care execs fondling the same mic and touching each other. reassuring presser, overall! pic.twitter.com/T3Zjw0IXqB
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) March 13, 2020
Trump repeatedly shakes hands and touches microphone at coronavirus press conference pic.twitter.com/oCerb7zUp0
— The Independent (@Independent) March 13, 2020
Trump earlier this week said he does not plan to get tested for the novel coronavirus, but Friday he said he “most likely” would get tested “fairly soon.”
“I am officially declaring a national emergency. Two very big words,” Trump said as he was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, health officials Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, and several private health company CEOs.
As each health official and corporate executive took a turn at the microphone, many shook hands with the president who was seen touching his nose and face during the press conference.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans to stop “stop handshaking” and “use other non-contact methods of greeting” to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
When Trump attempted to shake hands with a home health care company executive Bruce Greenstein, the CEO turned the president down and offered him an elbow bump instead.
“I like that. That’s good,” Trump responded after awkwardly returning the elbow bump.
EVP of home health care services company Bruce Greenstein offers Pres. Trump an elbow bump after speaking at WH Rose Garden press conference, during which @POTUS declared a national emergency in response to coronavirus outbreak https://t.co/FUR5cMnxiL pic.twitter.com/kdjyTl56cc
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 13, 2020
The Daily Beast reports:
There were also handshakes all around during a dinner on Saturday at Mar-a-Lago with Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose press secretary has since tested positive for COVID-19. While Bolsonaro denied reports Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from his U.S. trip, he has confirmed that he has taken a test for the virus.
Fabio Wajngarten, Bolsonaro’s communication secretary, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump initially said he was “not concerned” about potentially being exposed to the flu-like virus but he said on Friday, after being asked by a reporter if his refusal to get tested was “selfish,” said he will “most-likely” undergo an examination.
“I think I will do it anyway,” Trump said, while stressing he didn’t have any symptoms. He did not commit to sharing the results of his test. “We are working out a schedule,” he added.