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As a hospice nurse in Seattle, Diane Speer said giving out hugs to patients and family members was a routine part of home visits.

But in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, she now tells family members to keep their distance.

“There’s no touching hands or handshakes,” said Speer, who works for Renton, Washington-based Providence St. Joseph Health. It’s “time for a virtual hug.”

Hundreds of thousands of health care workers like Speer go into homes around the country to provide vital services for seniors and disabled people. But with rising concerns about the coronavirus and the particular danger it poses for older adults, those workers could be endangering their patients and

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