Trump coronavirus press conference an exemplar of what not to do
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Trump coronavirus press conference an exemplar of what not to do

US president and health executives flout their own advice, huddling up close to each other, shaking hands, touching faces and repeatedly adjusting the same microphone

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • President and CEO of Walmart Inc. Doug McMillon (C) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020 (JIM WATSON / AFP)
    President and CEO of Walmart Inc. Doug McMillon (C) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020 (JIM WATSON / AFP)
  • Executive VP and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer for LHC Group Inc. Bruce Greenstein (C) offers an elbow bump  as US President Donald Trump reaches for a handshake during a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. - Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)
    Executive VP and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer for LHC Group Inc. Bruce Greenstein (C) offers an elbow bump as US President Donald Trump reaches for a handshake during a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. - Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)
  • LHC Group’s Bruce Greenstein elbow bumps with US President Donald Trump during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    LHC Group’s Bruce Greenstein elbow bumps with US President Donald Trump during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adjusts the microphone to speak during a news conference on the coronavirus with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adjusts the microphone to speak during a news conference on the coronavirus with US President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • US Vice President Mike Pence (L) looks on as US President Donald Trump holds a press conference conference about the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic at the White House, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
    US Vice President Mike Pence (L) looks on as US President Donald Trump holds a press conference conference about the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic at the White House, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference about the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic at the White House March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump is facing a national health emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and 30 people have died from the virus in the United States, according to The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.   Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
    U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference about the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic at the White House March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump is facing a national health emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and 30 people have died from the virus in the United States, according to The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made setting a personal example a priority in combating the spread of the coronavirus, it seems the same message has not gotten through to US President Donald Trump and his administration.

Netanyahu has exhorted the Israel public to keep their distance from one another, personally demonstrated how to sneeze into a tissue, and had participants sit at least a meter (3 feet) apart at emergency press briefings and meetings.

“We are holding discussions and making decisions around the clock, including this morning and this afternoon, a large discussion but with at least a meter separating between us, and two meters where possible,” he said Friday, releasing footage of the unusual seating at one such meeting.

“On Sunday, we will hold the Cabinet meeting via video conference in order to maintain the distance. We are being an example to citizens and we hope that each one of you acts accordingly,” Netanyahu also said.

On Thursday, at a broadcast to the nation introducing new orders to shut down schools nationwide, at which he urged Israelis to “keep your distance” from one another, he noted that other ministers were not alongside him on the stage since the room was too small to enable them to sit a meter apart from each other — “the minimum” distance needed to help prevent contagion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a meeting to decide on measures to contain the coranavirus with participants sitting at least a meter apart on March 13 2020 (Screencapture/Channel 12)

The difference between such behavior and the actions of US President Donald Trump and his officials at a Friday press conference to declare the virus pandemic a national emergency could not have been starker.

US medical authorities say the coronavirus is thought to spread between people in close contact, and “social distancing” has become a watchword around the world.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump flouted public health officials’ advice by publicly and repeatedly shaking hands during the presentation on new efforts to combat the pandemic. At the same time, he was stressing that “anyone can be a carrier of the virus” and risk infecting older Americans and others at higher risk.

Along with Trump, participants including Vice President Mike Pence, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci,  White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Debbie Birx and several senior executives of private health care companies huddled together, standing shoulder to shoulder.

As Trump called on each one to speak, they touched and adjusted the same microphone.

Fauci repeatedly touched his face, another definite no-no.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Only Bruce Greenstein, Executive VP and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer for LHC Group, declined to shake the president’s hand, giving him an elbow bump instead, after which the president declared, “I like that. That’s good.”

Executive VP and Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer for LHC Group Inc. Bruce Greenstein (C) offers an elbow bump as US President Donald Trump reaches for a handshake during a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. – Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

Trump, 73, was pressed on whether he should be tested after coming into contact with a Brazilian official now known to have COVID-19.

He initially shut down the question, saying that on the advice of White House doctors, “I don’t have any of the symptoms.”

But later he changed tack, saying: “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested,” and that he “most likely” would be, “fairly soon.”

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