Handshakes have returned, like many pre-pandemic norms, but with a COVID note of caution

After a long hiatus of virtual meetings, business travel, in-person conferences and corporate retreats are becoming the norm again – and so is handshaking.

“At no point during meetings or events that I’ve attended in L.A., Austin, D.C. or Cannes, France, over the past two months did I hesitate to reach out and shake hands — nor did I sense hesitation from anyone else,” Hope King reports for Axios.

King reflects on the importance of the age-old custom of greeting and communication, and notes the desire of people to get back to normal routines. Her bottom line: “We can’t replicate what we learn from human touch.”

(Image from The Conversation, via KHN)

This reflection comes at a time when Covid-19 is surging across the nation and in Kentucky with a variant that is highly infectious, but is not nearly as deadly as recent strains of the virus. However, as Gov. Andy Beshear said at his weekly press conference on Thursday, “It still is harming and taking lives and we need to be wary of that.”

In this spirit, White House officials said President Joe Biden planned to limit his handshaking while in the Middle East this week and that the precaution was put in place by Biden’s doctor following a rise in cases of Covid-19 variants, Alexander Ward reports for Politico, which says Biden has been seen both fist-bumping and shaking hands on the trip so far.

In June 2021, the Cleveland Clinic declared it is safe to shake hands if you’ve been vaccinated for Covid-19, but it’s also important to only do so if you’re comfortable with it. That said, it also says that a fist bump would be the safer option, since it has been proven to transmit fewer germs than the traditional handshake.

The clinic also encourages people to be smart about who they shake hands with – pandemic or no pandemic. For example, if a person is coughing or showing signs of being ill, take a pass.

Also, the rules of good hand hygiene always apply, which means washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water. And the clinic notes that hand sanitizer is also an option.

Kentucky Health News

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