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WASHINGTON — When Vice President Mike Pence reached for a handshake on Thursday, Jan Malcolm, Minnesota’s health commissioner, offered him an elbow bump instead.

But not everyone in proximity to Pence, and to President Trump, has been quite so careful. On Monday, two Republican congressmen announced plans to self-quarantine after making contact with an individual who later tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. One, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, learned of his exposure Friday while riding with Trump on Air Force One. The same day, the other lawmaker, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, was photographed shaking Trump’s hand.

None of the six lawmakers exposed to the coronavirus so far have reported symptoms. But their close brushes with a disease that has already killed 27 Americans highlight that in many ways, the outbreak hasn’t yet disrupted Washington’s handshake-happy culture. While Congress last week eagerly spent $8 billion to fund prevention efforts, it’s unclear whether the capital region is prepared to embrace public health officials’ recommendation to ditch the grip-and-grin — and, in all likelihood, to begin cancelling networking events, happy hours, and campaign rallies that define political life here.


“During this time, we need to rethink personal space, and how we interact and touch each other,” said Dina Borzekowski, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “I think we’re about to turn a corner where we may not be hanging out with our friends in close proximity.”

Support STAT: If you value our coronavirus coverage, please consider making a one-time contribution to support our journalism.

Viewed through a pandemic-preparedness lens, Washington’s culture of constant conferences and political rallies seems to provide an eager breeding ground for a virus. And some Capitol offices have taken precautionary measures that could make political meetings awkward.


“Due to heightened health concerns, we respectfully ask that you refrain from shaking hands with staff or the Member of Congress,” reads a sign posted on the Capitol Hill office door of Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.). Another sign, on the door of Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), sports a yellow hazard sign and warns against handshakes or hugs.

Before a Tuesday hearing, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) was photographed offering the increasingly standard elbow-bump to Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lobbyists and congressional aides told STAT that while they hadn’t formally enacted coronavirus-specific policies, they had worked to shift some in-person meetings to phone calls or canceled visits altogether.

Already, events like the Conservative Political Action Conference have highlighted the dangers of events at which attendees from around the country handshake and high-five.

All five of the Republican lawmakers to announce Covid-19 exposures attended the conference, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who Trump announced Friday as his incoming chief of staff. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), separately, also announced a voluntary self-quarantine on Monday after learning she had met with a constituent who later tested positive.

While most lawmakers have decided to self-quarantine as a precaution, others have been far more cavalier. Gaetz, another CPAC attendee, wore a gas mask onto the House floor last week, an apparent attempt at mocking individuals anxious about the emerging crisis. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), after attending the conference and encountering the same individual, announced Monday he would not-self quarantine — on the advice, he said, of a CDC physician. (Later in the day, Gohmert was photographed leading a group of children on a tour of the Capitol.)

The coronavirus has also raised concerns for Trump, 73, and the two candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination: Former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78. By virtue of their age, all three politicians are at elevated risk for complications that could result from contracting the coronavirus. Sanders, who suffered a heart attack in October, is especially vulnerable, statistically speaking — individuals with heart disease are seen as particularly high-risk.

On Tuesday, both Biden and Sanders announced they would cancel campaign events in Ohio on the recommendation of public health officials.

Trump, undeterred, has said he will continue shaking hands, recognizing the political pitfalls that come with treating voters as potential disease carriers.

“If you don’t shake hands, they’re not going to like you too much,” he said last week.

Sanders (I-Vt.), who has slammed Trump for his administration’s missteps in responding to the disease outbreak, had previously shrugged off a reporter’s question about what precautionary steps he would take at a press event on Monday, saying merely that running for president “requires a whole lot of work.”

Biden, meanwhile, had posted volunteers at the entrances to his campaign rallies, equipped with bottles of hand sanitizer that attendees are required to use upon entry even before the cancellation of Tuesday’s rally. And despite Trump’s nonchalance, the White House has begun requiring visitors to disclose the foreign countries they’ve recently visited in the previous 30 days, CBS reported on Monday.

The outbreak has resurfaced stories from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which carries cautionary tales about public gatherings. That year, a parade meant to spark enthusiasm for buying war bonds drew 200,000 spectators in Philadelphia despite the epidemic, sickening thousands in the aftermath.

While the coronavirus has forced cancellations of concert tours, festivals, and academic conferences across the country — STAT also cancelled a subscriber event planned for March 10 — many D.C.-centric events have so far gone untouched.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon, a popular race scheduled for March 28, will go on as scheduled, organizers said Tuesday.

In a press briefing Monday, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease researcher, stopped short of recommending that candidates cancel their campaign rallies, but suggested it would be prudent to do so in areas with sustained community spread. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and until last week a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the coronavirus could force a campaign-trail reckoning.

“With all of the different capabilities and possibilities for reaching voters,” he said in a television interview, “we should find new ways to do this if it’s the right thing to do — not just for the candidates’ safety, but for that of the voters.”

Those “new ways,” according to Borzekowski, could test the bounds of what’s appropriate in Washington’s high-powered meeting culture.

“I do believe that this is a time we can be creative,” she said. “And I mean everything from jazz hands to people using ‘namaste.’”

  • It is my understanding that in Russia, it is customary for men who know each other well to kiss on the lips when greeting each other. If that’s really true, I wonder how Russia is doing with covid-19. I haven’t heard anything about how it’s going there. When you consider how badly Russia has handled other communicable diseases like multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, it could be another Italy or Iran.

  • Ken Gord (born February 25, 1949) is a Canadian film and television producer.[1]

    1 Early years
    2 Film
    3 Filmography
    4 References
    5 External links
    Early years
    Kenneth Steven Gord was born in Toronto General Hospital. His parents, Henry and Goldie Gord, were also native Torontonians and Ken was their middle child. Gord graduated from Bathurst Heights Secondary School and then enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Toronto but dropped out after completing the second of three years. He teamed up with two friends and began promoting rock concerts. On October 3, 1969, they successfully brought Johnny Winter to Massey Hall and on October 14, 1969, they brought The Who to the Canadian National Exhibition Colisseum to perform their rock opera, Tommy. Other bands brought to Toronto included The Byrds and Pentangle.

    Gord became involved in the film industry in Toronto, Ontario in the early 1970s. He produced the ultra-low budget Dream On The Run in 1973 and was production manager on another no-budget Canadian feature Point of No Return. In 1977, he produced the low-budget sci-fi film Starship Invasions, which was distributed by Warner Bros. and in 1979, The High Country for Crown International. He continued to production manage and/or line produce other low-budget films and television shows. Some examples include Deadly Eyes, Loose Screws, Recruits, Busted Up, Mr. Nice Guy, The Housekeeper, The Edison Twins and The Brain, through the 1980s.

    In 1986, he was co-producer on Criminal Law, the first feature directed by Martin Campbell, starring Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon. The movie was produced for Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Warner Bros. In 1988, he was the Canadian Executive in Charge of Production on the mini-series Day One, for CBS and Aaron Spelling Productions, which won an Emmy in 1989 for Best Drama Special. In 1991 and 1992, Gord produced two seasons of the CBS late-night crime show Sweating Bullets (aka Tropical Heat) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Eilat, Israel.

    This led him to what he was perhaps best known for, as the producer of the hit syndicated series Highlander: The Series, which filmed six seasons through the 1990s. Mr. Gord was brought in at the beginning of Season 2 and stayed as the creative producer until the last episode was filmed in Paris in 1998. The series was nominated for a Canadian Gemini Award as Best Dramatic Series in 1992.[citation needed]

    Since then, he has produced other syndicated series, such as the Paris episodes of Relic Hunter and a season of Queen of Swords, shot in Almeria, Spain at Texas Hollywood. He has also produced over twenty mini-series and television movies for CBS, the Fox Network, UPN, Global Television Network, CTV, Lifetime Network, Paramount Television, Paxnet, Sat-1, Turner Broadcasting, and CLT-ufa. These included CBS’s Daughter of Darkness, which starred Anthony Perkins and Model By Day, starring Famke Janssen. In 2006, he produced Eight Days to Live, which was the most successful in-house television movie ever broadcast on CTV, and also broke records on the Lifetime Network. It was nominated for a Canadian Gemini Award as Best Television Movie in 2007.[citation needed]

    In 2007, Gord produced Stuck, directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea to critical acclaim. The New York Times called it a “…grim, expert little thriller…”[citation needed]

    He produced XIII, a 4-hour mini-series from the graphic novel of the same name, starring Val Kilmer. It aired on NBC and Global Television in Canada during the winter of 2008.[citation needed]

    Features as producer:

    Stuck (2007 film) (Producer)
    Criminal Law (film), 1988 (Co-Producer)
    The Brain, 1988 (Line Producer)
    The High Country, 1981 (Co-Producer)
    Starship Invasions, 1977 (Producer)
    Point of No Return, 1976 (Co-Producer)
    Dream on the Run, 1973 (Line Producer)
    Features as unit production manager:

    Mr. Nice Guy (1987 film), 1987
    The Housekeeper, 1986
    Busted Up, 1986
    Recruits, 1986
    Screwballs II, 1985
    Deadly Eyes, 1982
    TV series, pilots, television movies, miniseries as producer or executive in charge of production:

    XIII (miniseries), 2009 (Producer)
    Eight Days to Live, 2006 (Supervising Producer)
    2007 Gemini Award Nomination – Best TV Movie
    Mary Higgins Clark’s All Around The Town, 2002 (Executive in Charge of Production)
    Mary Higgins Clark’s Lucky Day, 2002 (Executive in Charge of Production)
    Mary Higgins Clark’s Haven’t We Met Before?, 2002 (Executive in Charge of Production)
    Mary Higgins Clark’s You Belong to Me, 2002 (Executive in Charge of Production)
    Mary Higgins Clark’s Pretend You Don’t See Her, 2002 (Executive in Charge of Production)
    Mary Higgins Clark’s Loves Music, Loves to Dance, 2001 (Executive in Charge of Production)
    Queen of Swords, 2001 (22 Episodes) (Producer)
    Relic Hunter, 2000 (6 Episodes) (Producer)
    Poison, 2000 (Producer)
    Dream Team, 1999 (4 Episodes) (Producer)
    Survivor, 1999 (Supervising Producer)
    Killer Deal, 1999 (Producer)
    The Cyberstalking, 1999 (Producer)
    30 Years to Life, 1998 (Producer)
    Lost Souls, 1998 (Producer)
    Riddler’s Moon, 1998 (Producer)
    Highlander: The Series, 1992-1998 (97 Episodes) (Producer)
    1996 Emmy Award Nomination – Best Dramatic Series
    Model By Day, 1994 (Producer)
    Split Images, 1992 (Producer)
    Tropical Heat (AKA: Sweating Bullets), 1991-1992 (31 Episodes) (Producer)
    Iran:Days Of Crisis, 1991 (Line Producer(Canada))
    Dog House, 1991 (Line Producer)
    World’s Oldest Living Bridesmaid, 1990 (Executive in Charge of Production
    Daughter of Darkness, 1990 (Line Producer
    Dog House, 1990 (Pilot) (Line Producer)
    Day One (film), 1989 (Executive in Charge of Production (Canada))
    1989 Emmy – Best Drama Special
    TV series, pilots, television movies, miniseries as unit production manager:

    Force III, 1986 (Pilot)
    My Pet Monster, 1986 (Pilot)
    The Edison Twins, 1985

    Island of Champions (Feature), 2002 (Writer/Director)
    First Class, 1983 (2 x 30 min Pilots) (Producer)
    Head of production:

    Paragon Motion Pictures, 1988–1989
    Accent Entertainment, 1990–1991

    Silver Cord, 2008 (feature film) – in pre-production
    He Scores, 2000 (Short Story) – Published in anthology An Evening at Joe’s, Penguin Putnam
    White Hot, 1992 (Episode of Sweating Bullets)
    “Ken Gord”. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
    External links
    Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
    ISNI: 0000 0000 7677 1478VIAF: 105788636WorldCat Identities: viaf-105788636
    Categories: 1949 birthsLiving peopleWriters from TorontoCanadian film producersCanadian screenwriters
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    This page was last edited on 15 February 2020, at 13:58 (UTC).
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