Vice President Mike Pence greeted Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and other officials with an “elbow bump” as he landed in the state to learn about the spread of the coronavirus and officials discourage personal contact.
The moment came during a multi-state trip by Pence, who is leading the administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, to address the outbreak.
Inslee and a bipartisan group of Washington’s members of Congress welcomed Pence to the state at the McChord Field Airport on Thursday. Of the at least 226 cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, at least 70 of them are in the Seattle area, according to King County health officials — and at least 11 people have died.
The “elbow bump” has been a proposed substitute for shaking hands, amid the coronavirus outbreak’s changes to etiquette.
Dr. Sylvie Briand, the World Health Organization’s director of pandemics, has endorsed a range of greetings as an alternative to the handshake, including bumping elbows. Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, encouraged use of the elbow bump as “fun.”
And the gesture seems to be taking on, at least among governors. On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts posted a video of himself on Twitter bumping elbows with people leaving quarantine at the University of Nebraska’s National Quarantine Unit in Omaha.
Earlier on Thursday, Pence traveled to Minnesota to meet with officials from 3M, the makers of the N95 mask that could be used by patients and health care workers to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as with Gov. Tim Walz to discuss supply chain issues.
While touring 3M facilities in Minnesota, Pence admitted there was a shortage of testing kits, telling reporters that “we don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”