Pence says he and Trump will continue to shake hands despite coronavirus
Vice President Pence on Tuesday said the Trump campaign will determine on a day-to-day basis whether to continue holding campaign rallies and said he and President Trump would continue shaking hands even as public health officials warn of the risks of both amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Pence and other administration officials held a press briefing at the White House, where they stood in front of a printed graphic that laid out best practices for avoiding contracting the coronavirus. Among the suggestions were “consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings” and “Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting.”
But Pence indicated that the Trump campaign had not ruled out future campaign rallies and signaled he and the president would not stop shaking hands in the interim.
“As the president has said, in our line of work you shake hands when someone wants to shake your hand,” Pence said. “And I expect the president will continue to do that. I’ll continue to do it. What this is is a broad recommendation for Americans. But a really good recommendation is to wash your hands often.”
Trump, an admitted germaphobe, has shaken hands in recent days with multiple officials who have since gone into self-imposed quarantine after coming into contact with an individual with the virus.
Pence opted to greet Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) with an elbow bump upon arriving there last week to discuss the state’s coronavirus response.
The vice president was noncommittal when asked whether the Trump campaign would suspend rallies due to the coronavirus.
“I think that’ll be a decision that’s made literally on a day to day basis,” Pence said of the possibility of future rallies.
“I’m very confident that the campaign will take the very best information and make the very best decision going forward,” he added.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden both canceled their respective campaign rallies in Ohio scheduled for Tuesday night, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
The Trump campaign does not currently have any rallies scheduled, though Trump himself has said he will continue to hold them despite the spread of the virus.
Public health officials have in recent days cautioned against attending large gatherings, particularly for those who are elderly or have underlying conditions that would make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus. A number of large events have been canceled or postponed as a result.
The organizers of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, canceled the annual gathering of entertainers and entrepreneurs, and the Ivy League canceled its men’s basketball tournament.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Tuesday recommended