Vice President Joe Biden shared some now-infamous advice to Americans regarding the swine flu yesterday: "I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places right now." Relating advice that he's given to his family, Biden said on NBC's TODAY, "It's not that it's going to Mexico, it's that you're in a confined aircraft, where one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. I would not be at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway."
That's pretty extreme advice, and certainly doesn't help to assuage the fears of travelers. The White House has since tried to smooth over Biden's comments, apologizing "if anybody was unduly alarmed."
"What the vice president meant to say was the same thing that many members have said in the last few days," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "And that is, if you feel sick, are exhibiting flu-like symptoms...that you should take precautions, that you should limit your travel."
The meetings and events community is certainly taking a more level-headed approach. This week the U.S. Travel Association released a statement on the swine flu.
"Travelers, like all citizens, should heed the advice of experts when determining how best to manage health concerns," USTA President and CEO Robert Dow said in the statement. "According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Swine Influenza (swine flu) should not discourage people from traveling to or within the United States."
He also added, "We recommend that government officials treat this issue and any forthcoming statements with care and caution. We must address the situation with measured, pragmatic responses so as not to cause panic and negative consequences to the economy if health risks are not imminent."
I wonder what he would think about Biden's remarks? To me, Biden's comments seem to be such an extreme take as to not really be credible, but overall the general public tends to be much more prone to worry. As a meeting planner, are your guests taking it all in stride, or are they panicking?
Check out Biden's complete interview in the video below: