Imagine a world without handshakes…
It sounds shocking, but in the view of infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, it’s time to end the traditional handshake for good.
After the coronavirus…
In a Wall Street Journal podcast on Tuesday, Fauci discussed some of the lessons that he hopes will be carried forward as life goes back to normal.
“One of them is absolute compulsive hand-washing,” Fauci said.
“The other is you don’t ever shake anybody’s hands,” he added. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.”
Handshakes can spread germs
The handshake is historically a way of signaling agreement or friendship and more recently became a common courteous greeting. But Fauci, the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that the handshake is actually one of the easiest ways to spread germs.
“Not only would [ending handshakes] be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country,” he explained.
In this, Dr. Fauci likely has the support of President Trump, who is himself something of a germophobe and has long disapproved of shaking hands — at least until his foray into politics compelled him to embrace the customary greeting.
Gradual resumption of normalcy
Aside from ending handshakes, Dr. Fauci also discussed other aspects of a gradual return to normalcy once the worst of the outbreak subsides.
Assuming some mitigation strategies remain at least partially in effect, Fauci predicted that schools could reopen in the fall and that sporting events — albeit likely in front of few or no fans in the stands — could probably resume over the summer.
“We can start thinking about some degree of normality when the country as a whole has turned that corner and starts going down, so you can pinpoint cases instead of getting overwhelmed like New York City,” he explained. He did, however, caution that it would take some time, saying, “It isn’t like a light switch, on and off.”
Given the damage the economy is suffering from the coronavirus shutdowns, it is probably a safe bet that a solid majority would be more than willing to forgo shaking hands if that means they can get back to work.