Flu Will Not Keep Members From Heading Home

Posted April 30, 2009 at 12:34pm

Undeterred by the outbreak of swine flu and Vice President Joseph Biden’s warnings about mass transit, a handful of lawmakers will board flights destined for home Thursday and Friday.

“I’m on the first flight back tomorrow morning,— Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said defiantly.

“I’m taking the shuttle tonight,— Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) added.

Murray gave assurances that airlines and airport officials are taking the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the swine flu that has struck a nervous chord throughout the country this week.

But taking a more cautious tone, Biden said Thursday during an appearance on the “Today— show that he would advise his own family members to stay off commercial airplanes and subways for fear of a swine flu infection.

“I would tell members of my family … I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,— Biden said. “If one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.—

Following that interview, the White House issued a statement clarifying Biden’s strong comments.

“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,— Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said in a statement.

President Barack Obama also addressed the issue in a televised press conference Wednesday night.

“As the President said just last night, every American should take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu,— Alexander added. “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.—