How worried should Americans be about Ebola?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 20, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." Tonight for the entire hour, we're going to be joined by a panel of medical experts to discuss Ebola in America and what it means for you and your family.

But first -- and welcome to "Hannity." This is a Fox News Alert.  After facing major criticism for its message or lack thereof following the first Ebola diagnosis on American soil and subsequent infections of two nurses, the White House has now appointed this man, Ron Klain, to be the Obama administration's Ebola czar.

Now, the problem is Klain is not and never has been a doctor and he has no extensive background in health care. Instead, he has served as a senior White House aide to President Obama, chief of staff to Vice President Biden and chief of staff to former vice president Al Gore.

Now, not surprisingly the appointment is being slammed by Republicans.  Take a look at what Texas senator Ted Cruz had to say about this over the weekend.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Mr. Klain is not a doctor. He's not a health care professional. He doesn't have background in these issues. We should be less concerned about giving the public the feeling that the government is on top of this and more concerned about the government actually being on top of it. And this is a manifestation. We don't need another White House political operative, which is what Mr. Klain has been.  What we need is presidential leadership. The person who needs to be on top of this is the president of the United States standing up and leading and treating it as a public health emergency!


HANNITY: All right, Fox's own Ed Henry is standing by tonight. He's at the White House. He has the latest on how the administration is responding to the criticism. You know, Ed, I guess the main question is -- we have some of the best, most renowned doctors, people who've studied Ebola for years, military experts. Why a political person?

ED HENRY, FOX NEW SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sean, that's an interesting question because the bottom line is you're right that Republican criticism continues to mount about the appointment of Ron Klain.

Today, in fact, the president went back on the campaign trail. You'll remember he took two days off last week to deal with the Ebola crisis. At one point today, though, in Chicago, he did convene a secure conference call with Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, to get an update on Ebola, not with Ron Klain. You may wonder why. It's because we're now told that he has not officially started. He'll be on the job this Wednesday. So he's not regularly attending meetings or giving the president briefings. So he's still trying to get up to speed.

In terms of that Republican criticism, you hear this refrain from lawmakers saying he has no medical experience. Democrats are pushing back by saying when former President Bush appointed a bird flu czar, that was someone without medical experience. And medical experts like Dr. Tony Fauci say that somebody who worked in the executive branch could help fight through the bureaucracy.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know Ron Klain's emergency response experience. Maybe the Bush-Gore recount qualified in that.

ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: You need to be somebody who's a good organizer, and his experience is extraordinary. He's been chief of staff to a couple of vice presidents. He has a lot of experience.


HENRY: Now, I noted the president's back on the campaign trail, but he's so toxic unpopular right now that he's sticking to relatively friendly places like his home state of Illinois, where there's a gubernatorial race, president engaging in early voting himself today, saying he loves to do that.

But I have to tell you, some of his supporters were not really feeling the love at another safe place last night, state of Maryland, very blue.  The president had a rally there. But interesting, he drew over 8,000 people. So it was a large crowd. But once he started talking, people started streaming out. You can see from these photos not quite the magic we saw in previous Obama-related campaigns.

And in fact, today, even though the president was in Illinois, he did not stop in neighboring Iowa, where there's a very key Senate race that will basically determine whether or not his agenda moves forward at all because, obviously, Democrats very much in jeopardy of losing control of the Senate, Sean.

HANNITY: You know, Ed, as I was listening to the experts, they all seem to be toeing the party line as it relates to the political appointment. This guy has no medical experience. And even The New York Times said about Klain that, well, he's the one guy that can bring the message or get the message in line.

This is a public health issue. It's not a political issue, or it shouldn't be a political issue. So why not bring in a medical expert here?

HENRY: Sure. Certainly, political messaging should have no role here. If anyone's talking about messaging, perhaps it could be about just reassuring the public. That kind of messaging, obviously, could help because so far, the administration has had a lot of stumbles. They've been well documented, the CDC director and others making statements that didn't turn out to be true.

If they get somebody in the job who can actually reassure the public beyond the president coming out every time, that would be helpful to them.  I think the case the administration is trying to make it that when you have an operative, yes, a political operative, as you note, that's true, but if you have somebody who knows to work behind the scenes in Washington, they may be able to shake loose money on Capitol Hill to deal with this crisis.  They may know what phone call to make because there are other medical experts like Tony Fauci who are already in place, Sean.

HANNITY: Yes, a lot of people -- those experts have been wrong from the get-go. But we'll get into that with our experts. Ed, thank you -- Ed Henry from the White House tonight.

Now, before we bring in our medical experts, let's take a moment to put all this in perspective and really understand just how serious Ebola is. Now, the World Health Organization recently warned that West African countries could see up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months alone. That number in two months now adding to that rate. The death rate, the current outbreak stands at 70 percent. Now, that's an increase from the previous estimate of 50 percent. And as of October the 17th, there have been more than 4,500 deaths reported since the outbreak nearly seven months ago.

Now, the U.N. official heading the mission for the Ebola emergency response is also warning that the world is up against the clock when it comes to beating Ebola or he says disaster looms. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ebola got a head start on us. It is far ahead of us. It's running faster than us, and it is winning the race. If we do not reach these targets within 60 days, and the numbers spike, many more people will die. We either stop Ebola now, or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan. The penalty for failure is inconceivable and unacceptable.


HANNITY: And just last week, the president announced that up to 4,000 U.S. troops will be sent to the West African region to help contain this outbreak. But with millions of lives on the line, well, can the U.S. government really be trusted to handle the crisis here at home?

Remember, this is the same administration that covered up the Benghazi terror attack which left four Americans dead. They lied about the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. They targeted conservatives using the IRS.  They completely botched the "Obama care" Web site rollout. And by the way, people aren't keeping their plans or their doctors, and they're not saving money. And they can't secure our borders.

So we turn it over to our panel of medical experts for reaction.  Guys, good to see you. All right, this is -- I'm surprised you're all not in white coats. We have a couple of shrinks here. That worries me, as a host, being analyzed.

Very quickly, I'm going to go through our crowd here. On a scale of 1 to 10, how worried should Americans be?

DR. DAVID SANDERS, EBOLA VIROLOGIST: About being infected here in America?

HANNITY: Yes, worried about this really impacting America.

SANDERS: They should be -- they should be, well, 10 if we're talking about the world, 1 if we're talking about the United States.

HANNITY: Dr. Siegel?

DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX CHIEF MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I would agree with 10, and maybe a 2 here. But the main issue is what's happening over there.  If it burgeons out of control, it becomes more of a problem here.

HANNITY: What do you think?

DR. DEVI NAMPIAPARAMPA, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think, you know, 2 in terms of the actual virus causing a problem, but maybe 8 or 9 in terms of all these missteps affecting the American public's confidence and safety level.

HANNITY: Dr. Ablow?

DR. KEITH ABLOW, FOX MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I'll say a 2 in terms of being infected with the virus. But as a psychiatrist and using that lens, I'll say a 9 in terms of the way that the psychology can turn back on us in an ugly way.

HANNITY: Erin, you're a nurse practitioner.

ERIN TOLBERT, NURSE PRACTITIONER: Yes. I would say 2, as well, as far as the average everyday American. I would say for health care workers, more around an 8 or a 9, just seeing our government's response to this...

HANNITY: That's an important point.

TOLBERT: ... and how we've all been treated. Yes.

HANNITY: Very good point. Now, Jean, you're with the National Nurses United. And you guys have a very strong statement. So I would assume for health care workers, you're really mad.

JEAN ROSS, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED CO-PRESIDENT: Yes, well, we'd be a 10 for the nurses and other health care workers. But once you assure us that we're going to get the proper equipment and the training, then we should be able to help assure the rest of the American public that they're going to be fine.

HANNITY: What do you think, Karen?

KAREN EVANS, FMR. NURSE'S AIDE, ATTORNEY: I think that for just the world, I say we should be worried, like a scale of 20. Here in the United States, 1, maybe 2. But for as a nurse -- I used to be a nurse, in addition to being a lawyer -- as a nurse...

HANNITY: Boy, you had a lot of time in school.


EVANS: But as a nurse, I think nurses should be very concerned because they're the ones who are going to be on the front line taking care of the messy results that lead to the spread of this disease.

HANNITY: Yes. Doctor, what do you think?

DR. RICHARD AMERLING, MOUNT SINAI BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER: I totally agree that the nurses are going to be...

HANNITY: There's a lot of doctors here. I was going to this doctor...


HANNITY: But that's OK. Go ahead.

AMERLING: The nurses are most on the front line and should be concerned about one or two cases getting in. I think the American people are worried because we are not taking the steps to block this disease from coming into the country. I think that if we did that effectively, a lot -- the worry factor would go down considerably.

HANNITY: Are we also worried -- you're sort of jump-starting another thought. We've had mixed messages from the government. Before I get the rest of your assessments on this, let's take a look at the conflicting messages that we keep getting from the government and the CDC director and the president. Watch this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, be it the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: Because of our health care system and our ability to do the contact tracing and isolation, we won't have an outbreak.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: People should take solace from the fact that, quite frankly, we know exactly how Ebola is transmitted. It's not transmitted through the air. It's not transmitted through food or water, but only through close contact with the bodily fluids of an individual that has symptoms of Ebola.


HANNITY: October 2nd, the CDC director said that, essentially, any hospital in the country can take care of Ebola. You don't need a special hospital room to handle it. You just need a private room and a private bathroom. That's what we were told just a little over two weeks ago!

DR. RICHARD FIRSHEIN, FIRSHEIN CENTER FOR COMPREHENSIVE MEDICINE:  Right. And that's why I think right now, Americans should be concerned at about a level of a 9. I think the actual risk of infecting is quite low.  But what's happened is, we really haven't been given the information that we need to make a proper decision. Even physicians like myself haven't felt confident that we've been given information that can help us if an outbreak were to occur. We've really been lucky at this point.

HANNITY: How would you rate it?

DR. ERIC BRAVERMAN, PATH MEDICAL FOUNDATION DIRECTOR: First of all, it's a 10 because the world is a neighborhood, but it's not a brotherhood.  Everything that happens in one country's going to eventually spread to other countries. So we're not prepared with quarantine patterns. So in 1919, the flu killed as many as war, essentially, because the countries and nations did not get together. So you have no world Ebola...


BRAVERMAN: You have no presidential leadership. You don't have infectious disease experts coming together.

HANNITY: You know how many beds we have? Eleven. Eleven beds!

BRAVERMAN: We don't have hygiene. Hey, Sean, we have no national hygiene protocols. You don't have the planes with Purel. You don't have a proper kit, which I have for your, your Ebola kit. You don't have...

HANNITY: Does it have a hazmat suit?

BRAVERMAN: No, no, not everything. But it's got you started. Here you go.

HANNITY: I'll get that...


HANNITY: Let me get back to you...

BRAVERMAN: We don't have immune system preparations.

HANNITY: You think it's bigger than what everyone else is saying?

BRAVERMAN: It's always bigger because you're not associating the widespread problem of malaria, infectious disease, co-infection and spread.


BETSY MCCAUGHEY (R), FMR. NEW YORK LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Ebola is too dangerous for our hospitals and nurses even with those special outfits -- personal protective outfits. The fact is that Ebola patients should only be treated at those biocontainment units you just mentioned. We have 11 beds in the country, 11 -- capacity of 11. And 150 people are coming in every day from the infected area, 150...


HANNITY: I'm going to get into that in the next segment. Dr. Radcliff?

DR. NINA RADCLIFF, PHYSICIAN: I think for the American public, the fear should be at a 1. In terms of health care workers, it is elevated, but the fear is at about 10 right now. It's on a Richter scale level of 10. And unfortunately, the fear is spreading faster than the virus will ever spread itself.

HANNITY: All right, let's see -- Dr. Robi?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I think in terms of the world, it's a 10 because viruses can mutate. So if we don't figure out how to treat this problem in Africa, then it is going to spread. In terms of here locally, it's been called the caregiver's disease. So anybody who's in touch with any bodily fluids is going to be in danger. So the problem is, too, we don't know if somebody coughs on you if they have Ebola that you can get it!

HANNITY: Well, the WHO did raise the incubation period from 21 to 42 days. Nigeria just got rid of it through a travel ban, and they waited 42 days before making the pronouncement. Doctor?

DR. STEVEN GARNER, NEW YORK METHODIST HOSPITAL: You know, I'm thinking that there's -- the leadership -- you get to see that there's not a decisive leadership and that these comments saying all the hospitals are properly prepared was just an error in trying to communicate, to try and calm people down. Instead, it makes people more anxious when you're getting comments that everybody knows is not true. Everybody -- since 9/11, we've been trying to prepare, and as time goes by, we get lax. And we're lax again.

HANNITY: What do you think the risk is?

GARNER: For us?



HANNITY: Health care.



GARNER: World 10, zero for us.

HANNITY: Dr. Khalil?

DR. AMBREEN KHALIL, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Well, I think, right now for us in America, it's just 1 out of 10. If you look at the number of people who were exposed to the Ebola patient, very few of them actually got it. It's just two health care workers. Everybody on the plane, the (INAUDIBLE) the ER, nobody got infected. So health care professionals, the ones who are taking care of extremely sick patients, they're at very high risk. But everybody else who gets exposed to an asymptomatic patient is not.

HANNITY: We got...


HANNITY: Hang on. We got to -- we got to take a break.

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