'This Week' Transcript: Sens. Leahy and Hatch

But we don't want to shut down the production capacity of the country for a flu when that's not necessary. What we have been telling the private sector, we've been having regular conference calls, whatever, through the private sector, is dust off your plans for how you deal with seasonal flu.

What do you do when you're absenteeism rate goes up? And what do you do for telecommuting, for example? What do you do to make sure that if you have to restrict some production, you move it to some places -- or concentrate it in some places as opposed to others? You know, every business -- every business-owner has a different way of handling this.

The number one thing is for people who are sick not to go to work. Once they don't go to work, we can begin the process of containing the spread of the virus.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you have to get the balance right. And we've seen the variety of responses to the crisis. In Hong Kong, they closed off -- quarantined that entire hotel yesterday when there was on infection. We saw an example just the other day of a plane being grounded.

Is that an overreaction?

NAPOLITANO: You know, we take our guidance from the best that science can give us. And we have great scientists at the Centers for Disease Control. And what they told us was if you're sick you should stay home. If you have a child who is sick, you should keep that child at home.

If you have sick children in a school, you should close that school. But that's not to let all of the kids go to the mall, it's to keep them all at home. And that's the way you begin to mitigate the effect of the spread of this new flu.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Real commonsense standard.

And, Dr. Besser, let me come back to you now. You said we're not out of the woods yet. We have to be on guard. But what are the signs you're looking for to say, you know what, this isn't as bad as we feared, we are going to get through this?

BESSER: A number of things we're looking for. One is we're looking for answer for why what we're hearing coming out of Mexico looks so different from what we are seeing here initially. We're starting to get some answers there.

Here, around the country, what we're looking for is how easily does this spread? And what is the severity of disease? And we're getting answers to that as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it's not spreading that easily, right?

BESSER: Well, it is spreading. It's spreading quite easily. And we have 160 reported cases, 21 states, we expect today that we're going to be confirming cases in far more states than that.

So it does spread very easily. The word out of New York City, where they had a school cluster is it spread very rapidly through that school. But what they were seeing was disease that was not that severe, and when it transmitted to people in the families, they were seeing disease that was not that severe.

And that it encouraging.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Sebelius, President Obama often talks about the problems he inherited from the past administration. He's not shy about that at all. Yet President Bush and his team did develop a national strategy for influenza coming out of the whole avian flu experience.

Is this an example where the Obama administration inherited a solution from the Bush administration? And is the strategy you're following now rooted in the Bush strategy?

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...