Public Health

Biden Says He Wouldn't Fly Right Now


"I would tell members of my family — and I have — that I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now," Vice President Joe Biden said today as he made the rounds of the morning TV news shows. "It's not just going into Mexico. If you're any place in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."

According to the AP, Biden appeared on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, CBS-TV's The Early Show" and NBC-TV's The Today Show show.

Biden offered his thoughts about flying on Today. Here's the video. The vice president talks about whether folks should fly about 2:30 into the 6:08 interview.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Biden is wrong.

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. The Air Transport Association of America chief calls Biden's comments "extremely disappointing":

"Vice President Biden's comment that people should avoid air travel in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak was extremely disappointing," ATA President and CEO James May says in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "The airlines have been working daily with government agencies, none of whom suggest people avoid air travel, unless they are not feeling well. The fact is that the air onboard a commercial aircraft is cleaner than that in most public buildings."

Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. NPR's Yuki Noguchi writes that:

The Obama administration has not issued a general advisory about air travel or public transportation. The travel industry was quick to respond today after hearing what Biden had to say.

In a statement, the U.S Travel Association did not mention Biden specifically, but denounced "recent comments" by "elected officials" as "inflammatory."

Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the Travel Association added that:

"According to President Obama, swine flu is a cause for concern, but not panic. President Obama's measured and responsible comments are appropriate and should provide useful guidance to other elected officials."

Update at 9:05 a.m. ET. This statement was just sent to reporters by Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander:

"On the Today Show this morning the vice president was asked what he would tell a family member who was considering air travel to Mexico this week. The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways. This is the advice the vice president has given family members who are traveling by commercial airline this week. As the president said just last night, every American should take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you're sick; and keep your children home from school if they're sick."

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