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Trainspotter

Vice President Biden stokes H1N1 flu fears; says to stay off planes, subways while o

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Yo, Joe - it ain't so. You don't know what you're talking about.

 

Vice President Biden took an express train to Stupidville Thursday after blurting out that he's ordered his family to stay off planes and subways to avoid the swine flu - needlessly stoking fears about how the virus is spread.

 

The advice was contrary to what President Obama and health officials have advised, which is that swine flu - while certainly contagious - should not prevent healthy people from traveling anywhere, except maybe Mexico.

 

"I would tell members of my family - and I have - I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now," Biden said on NBC's "Today" show.

 

Dr. Biden pressed on with his faulty diagnosis: "It's not that it's going to Mexico - if you're in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."

 

For the straphangers out there, Biden added, "I would not be at this point, if [my family] had another way of transportation, [be] suggesting they ride the subway."

 

Wrong, experts say.

 

"There's nothing about a subway that's more risky than any other part of New York," said Dr. John Balbus, chief health scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund.

 

While droplets from a sneezing or coughing person can fly up to 6 feet, the best advice is to stay home if sick, cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, and wash your hands frequently - no matter how you travel.

 

To keep Biden's blunder from going viral, his staff quickly put out a what-Joe-really-meant statement, saying the veep thought planes and subways were still safe and that his family should only stay off them if ill.

 

"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," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander. "If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces, such as subways."

 

Unfortunately for Biden, though, his errant train-of- thought gaffe had already left the station.

 

"We just don't need that type of misinformation going out," groaned Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

 

James May, president of the Air Transport Association, sent Biden a blistering letter expressing "extreme disappointment" at his suggestion that planes were unsafe.

 

Even the ladies on "The View" unloaded - Joy Behar said, "Joe Biden doesn't remember he's the vice president sometimes."

 

The White House later delivered its own spanking after reporters asked press secretary Robert Gibbs whether Biden's comments deserved an apology.

 

David Saltonstall

DAILY NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT

May 1st 2009

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I already don't like this guy (but thats for a different topic), but really! That is just what the nation needs right now, #2 running his mouth and causing a panic. I am glad though that the White House made a retraction and "clarified" what he ment. This is almost on par with having Air Force 1 fly low over Ground Zero.

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