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Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | shaking hands | hugs | germs | pandemic

Beyond the Handshake and Hug: How Can We Safely Greet?

people shaking hands
(Rido/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 27 May 2020 02:01 PM

Handshakes, hugs, and high-fives are all ways of greeting that have been essentially killed by the coronavirus. They're impossible to implement from 6 feet away, and may be prime modes of disease transmission.

Dr. Mark Sklansky, chief of pediatric cardiology at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, said he's always hated shaking hands.

"Hands are warm, they're wet, and we know that they transmit disease very well," he told Time. "They are phenomenal vector for disease."

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an April interview with The Wall Street Journal: "I don't think we should ever shake hands again, to be honest with you."

Gayle Westmoreland always had a distaste for shaking hands and even published a book about it called "Hands: Stop shaking Them! A Cultural Shift to End Handshaking in America."

"I don't want to get rid of the handshake altogether," she told The Baltimore Sun in 2007. "I just want a choice."

Westmoreland said she views handshaking like cigarette smoking: a public health hazard. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests resisting the urge to shake, official bans on the practice have occurred.

According to the Sun, during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, the town council of Prescott, Arizona, outlawed handshaking. The practice eventually returned.

As we emerge from the current quarantine, experts predict that people will reserve handshaking, hugging, and other forms of close contact for those who are closest to them and who they trust, Time noted.

Sklansky suggested focusing on other nonverbal as well as verbal greetings. He said his own patients preferred being looked in the eye, addressed by their name, and asked about their well-being rather than being greeted with a handshake.

Sklansky uses the namaste gesture as a preferred form of greeting, bringing the hands together in front of the heart, fingers pointed upward and bowing the head slightly. Other options, according to Time, are the elbow bump, foot tap, a brief nod, or head tilt while placing your hand on your heart.

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Health-News
Handshakes, hugs, and high-fives are all ways of greeting that have been essentially killed by the coronavirus. They're impossible to implement from 6 feet away, and may be prime modes of disease transmission.
shaking hands, hugs, germs, pandemic
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2020-01-27
Wednesday, 27 May 2020 02:01 PM
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