Politicians Concerned About Contracting and Transmitting Coronavirus

"We are the sort of people who could spread this disease if we're not careful": Rep. Seth Moulton and other politicians acknowledge that their close personal contact with many people put them at particular risk during the coronavirus outbreak

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Lawmakers across the country are focused on the coronavirus, and they are worried about their own safety as well as that of their constituents.

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., put it bluntly.

"I could have coronavirus right now, Alison, and not show symptoms for 15 days, but give it to you," he told NBC10 Boston.

Moulton says politicians are at a particular risk of contracting and transmitting the illness.

"I've been bringing this up with colleagues, that we are sort of people who could spread this disease if we're not careful," he said.

That's because the very job description for members of Congress and politicians in general is a potential recipe for spreading the virus.

"We go home every weekend to shake hands with as many people as we possibly can," Moulton said. "And then we all go back to Washington, where we crowd into a room more crowded than any high school auditorium, and then the next weekend, we do it again."

"This means we have to think public health first and campaign second," said Jesse Mermell, who is running for the House seat currently occupied by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass.

Mermell has noticed an increased awareness as she campaigns around the state.

"Last night, we hosted a house party here in Brookline, and I reached out to shake someone's hand and they presented me with their elbow," Mermell said. "So I gave them my elbow back."

Salem Sen. Joanne Lovely has also switched to the elbow bump, which she called a "new state house trend." She is looking ahead at future events with the safety of her constituents and her staff a top priority.

"We've had these big conventions cancelled in Boston already, the seafood convention that was coming in," she said. "People are being very serious about this and we should be."

Moulton also points out that coronavirus is potentially more harmful to older people, and that a significant portion of Congress is over the age of 60.

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