Press conferences at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention usually go like this. First, to get onto the CDC's massive campus in Atlanta, stop your car at the security gate. Very serious inspectors then circle about, looking underneath your car with a camera, checking the trunk, and peaking under the hood.
This can occasionally pay off for the reporter. While I was holding up the hood (otherwise it tends to fall on people's heads) before my first CDC press conference, I noticed my radiator fluid level was low. Thanks, CDC!
Once you get into the Tom Harkin Global Communications Center (thanks, Sen. Harkin!), and convince even more serious inspectors to let you in, you walk down a nice, airy hallway to a room with a podium, a lovely midnight-blue backdrop, and black-out shades pulled down so the camera people will be happy.
Today, the room was illuminated by something other than good TV lighting. Travis Stork was there.
CBS via Getty Images
Dr. Travis Stork, right, makes a guest appearance on the CBS show Three Rivers.
Dr. Travis Stork, right, makes a guest appearance on the CBS show Three Rivers. CBS via Getty Images
OK, you may know him. I didn't. He's on TV. But my TV hasn't worked since stations switched off their analog signals.
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/vaccinesupply.htmhttp://www.flu.gov/evaluationStork is an emergency room doc. He was in the reality TV show "The Bachelor," ending up with a woman who lived just a few blocks away from him. According to Wikipedia, the relationship broke up due to contractual obligations to stay apart until the last episode aired. I didn't ask him about any of this. Stork now hosts a syndicated daytime talk show called "The Doctors."
If you looked hard at the press conference, you could distinguish Stork from the other reporters pretty easily.
First off, he's fit, perfectly tanned, and looks like he occasionally sees daylight. He had on a nicer suit than any reporter I know possesses. He sported a white shirt with periwinkle stripes, open at the collar, and no tie. No wedding ring either...
The reporters reacted the way reporters are supposed to react — not particularly impressed.
During the press conference he asked one question, about emergency departments. People worried about swine flu are clogging ERs, he said. And what was the CDC doing to help people figure out whether they need to go to the ER, or just stay home?
Dr. Anne Schuchat, head of the Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told him about a self-assessment tool on the CDC's Web site. (Microsoft has a more user-friendly version.)
Stork was quite a nice guy. I had asked a question about whether there was any evidence that any of the alternative treatments being sold as remedies for swine flu actually worked. After the press conference, he told me that people stop him on the street to ask him that all the time. And his response? Something that's likely to please the CDC. "I tell them to eat right, keep active, and get the vaccine."
Not so easy, though. At present, the vaccine isn't widely available.