CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden either refused or is incapable of giving CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta a straightforward answer to a very simple question: Can Ebola be transmitted through a cough, sneeze, or handshake. The CNN clip, first snagged by Twitchy, is equal parts staggering and terrifying — like something you see from an arrogant government official in a zombie movie before the plague explodes:
Courtesy of Twitchy, here’s a partial transcript:
Dr. Thomas Frieden: Well actually, Sanjay and I, if one of us had Ebola, the other would not be a contact right now. Because we’re not in contact. Just talking to someone is not a way to get infected. It’s not like the flu, not like the common cold. It requires direct physical contact.
CNN host Michaela Pereira: But if he sneezes on you, it’s a different story.
CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: I am within 3 feet of you. Wouldn’t I be considered a higher risk? My understanding reading your guidelines, sir, is that within 3 feet or direct contact — if I were to shake your hand, for example — would both qualify as being contact.
Dr. Frieden: We look at each situation individually and we assess it based on how sick the individual is and what the nature of the contact is. And certainly if you’re within 3 feet, that’s a situation we’d want to be concerned about. But in this case, where we haven’t hugged — we haven’t shaken hands — we have not had any contact that would allow either of our body fluids to be in contact with the other person.
Gupta: So, to Michaela’s point, the reason we talk about coughing and sneezing not being a concern — if you were to have coughed on me — you’re saying that would not be of concern?
Dr. Frieden: We would look at that situation very closely…
The CDC itself — the very entity Frieden runs — warns that saliva, sweat, and mucus can transmit Ebola. That can include a lot of handshakes and almost all coughs and sneezes.
I understand that the government doesn’t want panic. But the best way to engender panic is to shatter the confidence the American people have in the CDC with non-answers like this.
Ebola’s best friend is government arrogance and stupidity.
Watching Frieden happy talk his way out of a simple, straightforward question is chilling.
P.S. Naturally the federal government’s toadies at Vox.com are part of the dissembling campaign.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC