Containing the spread of Ebola

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 24, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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O'REILLY: And in the "Impact" segment tonight reaction to the "Talking Points" with us now Dr. Ian Lipkin the director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University here in New York; and from Washington, Dr. Martin Makary, public health expert, he teaches at Johns Hopkins University. All right Dr. Makary I'll begin with you. Am I making any mistakes in my analysis?

MARTIN MAKARY, M.D., JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, I think you point out some of the problems, Bill. But I just really don't think in the U.S. we have a public health crisis. We have a media crisis creating hysteria for an infection that no one has ever caught in a public area.

But "The New York Times" makes a reasonable point that somebody coming back from a high-risk zone shouldn't be out there in the public. I just think it needs to be put in the context that 500 people die of tuberculosis which is highly contagious, and we have never had anybody catch Ebola out in these public area.


O'REILLY: Not yet. Not yet. But that's going to happen, I'm afraid to say. But the job of the federal government is to prevent an epidemic, prevent chaos, hysteria, and all of that. Now "The New York Times" wants self-voluntary, you know -- you got to report, you got to call. That's impossible. It's just impossible. They couldn't even do it with the doctor, and he was a hands-on guy with Ebola. They couldn't even take him and put him away for 21 days. And it's just grossly irresponsible. Yet -- you've seen the polling on this. Americans agree with me overwhelmingly. The federal government has just screwed this up from the very beginning.

MAKARY: Well, every strategy has problems. I mean we can't incarcerate people. That's not practical either.

O'REILLY: No you can forcibly quarantine them, they've done that now. They forcibly -- Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her crew at NBC were forcibly quarantined.

MAKARY: Well, it wasn't enforceable obviously if the quarantine of broken.


O'REILLY: They didn't punish her. The public health ordered her to be quarantined. Look, Doc, I'm going to get back to you in a moment. But the fact of the matter is, we're trying to prevent this thing here. And the government isn't doing what it should do.

Now Dr. Lipkin, when you have a situation where a sophisticated doctor -- all right, Doctors with Borders guy, he's a good guy, I mean going over there to help these people -- comes back, a lot of people on this network and others say he's irresponsible. This doctor himself is irresponsible for what he did. Do you see it that way?

W. IAN LIPKIN, M.D., COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR INFECTION AND IMMUNITY: Well, he, I don't think was really irresponsible. He turned himself in. He monitored himself as he was asked to do and he reported that he had a fever. And during the time that he was out and about in the city, he did - - I'm sure he didn't infect anybody because at that point, he didn't have symptoms.


O'REILLY: So you're sure --

LIPKIN: But I think there's a larger problem --

O'REILLY: Ok but let's just stay on Dr. Spencer for a moment. Wouldn't it have been wiser for the doctor himself to say, you know what I'm going to stay away from everybody for 21 days, or the government to compel him to stay away from everybody? Wouldn't that have been wiser?

LIPKIN: It does sound wiser on the face of it. It's challenging, however, because you have 150 people coming back every day on average from that part of the world. At the end of 21 days, you've got 3,000 people --


O'REILLY: Well I wouldn't let any West Africans come here unless they had to come here --

LIPKIN: Well but these are probably people who are citizens. Who are returning --

O'REILLY: Yes, but I still wouldn't do it.

LIPKIN: There isn't a lot of tourism to that part of the world now.

O'REILLY: No there isn't. But you're right. That's just New York, 100 to 150 coming in here. And there are others, Dulles and other airports are coming in. But I would say unless you have a compelling reason to be here, that you have to go to the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, you're not coming for a while. And I know it's hard, I know it's inconvenient, Doctor Makary.

But I think to protect the public health these things have to be instituted. If they're instituted in Africa, you know that -- the African nations say, look, you can't come in here. They shut down all travel on these three countries. They just couldn't go. And that worked in Nigeria and Senegal.

MAKARY: Bill every time we talk about banning all flights, I mean everyone's in favor for restricting flights. But when we talk about --

O'REILLY: Not everybody. They haven't restricted commercial flights to those areas. I'm talking about commercial flights, and you know it, Doctor, not charters.

MAKARY: This sends a message -- this sends a message to any humanitarian that's thinking about going there that we can't guarantee that we can get you back. And it just doesn't make sense --

O'REILLY: No, they'll get back on military flights and chartered flights with Doctors without Borders, they get back. That's a bogus excuse. Come on --

MAKARY: Well this doctor would have come back on one of those flights. So clearly that wouldn't have prevented this doctor from New York from coming back to New York. I think it's reasonable what you're saying Bill. Isolate them. We need more strategies, you know. The government's a messy place, it's uncoordinated. It's a bureaucracy.

O'REILLY: Right. Thank you.

MAKARY: That's what I appreciate about what we're saying here. But we're not going to ban --

O'REILLY: Thank you very much. The government is not equipped to do it and the President has once again abdicated his leadership.

Now Dr. Lipkin I got a question for you. You know Dr. Frieden the last time you were here, you kind of stuck up for him. All right, Dr. Frieden, the head of the CDC.


O'REILLY: Ok now I'm a simple man. You're much smarter than I am. The last time I listened to this guy -- I haven't listened to him since -- he told me that an Ebola patient who would actively have the disease, the disease had now consumed him, on a bus, could spread it, you know, to you if he had the symptoms, the active symptoms. But then he said if you're a passenger on a bus, you can't get it. And I'm saying to myself, you know what, that's so confusing and so contradictory. Do you know what he meant?

LIPKIN: I can try to interpret what he meant. So what he was saying is that if you have active Ebola --


LIPKIN: And you vomit or you have diarrhea, or --

O'REILLY: Or you sneeze on somebody.

LIPKIN: Or you're bleeding, well the sneezing is not clear.

O'REILLY: Mucus?

LIPKIN: No, it's really not concentrated in saliva. It really is in feces and vomit and so on.

O'REILLY: Fine you get sick to your stomach, you're on the bus, you vomit --

LIPKIN: On top of somebody, absolutely. That's probably a bad situation even if they don't have Ebola.

O'REILLY: I would say so.

LIPKIN: Agreed. So that's what he meant. But in terms of somebody touching a handrail or touching a knob or something like that that is not going to be --


O'REILLY: You can't get it that way unless the guy vomits on the knob.


O'REILLY: All right. I mean we even heard this -- this is how crazy this whole story is getting which is why it shouldn't be this crazy. We put these restrictions in. I got to let you guys go. And I really appreciate it.

Today, we were discussing whether -- because the doctor went to a bowling alley to bowl whether his perspiration in the holes of the bowling ball might have gotten on somebody else. That's how insane this is getting. And that's why these restrictions have to be put in place.

LIPKIN: But at that point he's not infected.

O'REILLY: Ok. And I trust you, Doctor because I'm coming to your house if you're wrong. I know where you live.

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