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A Public Health Official Warned People Not To Touch Their Face Due To Coronavirus — And Then Immediately Licked Her Finger

Seriously, everyone, wash your hands and stop touching your face.

Posted on March 4, 2020, at 4:59 p.m. ET

Yichuan Cao / Sipa USA via AP

Dr. Sara Cody, health officer and director of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Dr. Sara Cody was offering one piece of simple, yet vital, advice on how people can stop the novel coronavirus from spreading: Don't touch your face.

"Today, start working on not touching your face — because one main way viruses spread is when you touch your own mouth, nose, or eyes," Cody, director of the Santa Clara County's Public Health Department said at the Friday press conference.

Less than a minute later, Cody brought her hand to her mouth and licked her finger to turn a page in her notes.

Coronavirus instructions. Wait for it...

California's Santa Clara County has been grappling with 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. Officials have been holding press conferences and issuing public statements not just about the spread of the virus but how to prevent it.

A spokesperson with the county's public health department did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment or to speak with Cody.

Although the press conference took place Friday, video of it went viral Wednesday as health officials across the country echoed the simple yet effective way to keep a virus from entering a person's respiratory system.

The clip also highlights just how hard it is not to touch your face, especially after someone tells you not to.

According to a 2015 study, researchers found that people touched their faces an average of 23 times an hour. Most of that, according to the study, included direct contact with the eyes, mouth, and nose: direct pathways for a virus to enter the body.

Along with washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home when sick, avoiding touching your face is one of the main ways to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, according to public health leaders.

"We're always saying the common sense of washing your hands, not touching your face, ensuring that if you touch anything, you wash your hands again," Dr. Debbie Birx, the White House's response coordinator for the coronavirus, told reporters on Wednesday.

To drive the point home on Wednesday, President Trump himself said he hasn't "touched [his] face in weeks."

"I miss it," he said.

TRUMP: “I haven’t touched my face in weeks. It’s been weeks. I miss it."

Despite the comment, however, it's pretty clear that even the president has a hard time avoiding the habit.

I know this is, like, the lowest of low-hanging fruit, but this is from Monday.

Of course, he's not alone.

Whether they're scratching an itchy nose or rubbing a chin, people on social media understand how hard it is to avoid touching your face, even during a virus outbreak.

@RexChapman Coronavirus would've spread so fast in the movie Face-Off.

Others looked for extreme measures to get the job done.

Can't touch your face if you can't reach your face.

Don’t touch your face! Me: #OneVoice1

As of Wednesday afternoon, the US has seen a total of 148 cases involving the novel coronavirus, and 11 of those cases have resulted in death.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.