— Dr. Nancy Snyderman (@DrNancyNBCNEWS) October 2, 2014
With the country on high alert over the Ebola virus outbreak and people wishing we had a Surgeon General to help lead the response, now is not the time for public figures in the healthcare space to fuel fears.
Alas, that’s what NBC’s chief medical editor and correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman did when she violated a quarantine, albeit a voluntary one, to go to a New Jersey restaurant.
She and other NBC crew members told the CDC that they would submit to a quarantine period after traveling to West Africa to cover the outbreak of the virus. An NBC cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo, came back to the US with the disease, tweeting just yesterday that he was starting to feel better.
New Jersey issued a mandatory quarantine for all NBC journalists exposed to Mukpo last Friday, effective through October 22.
With media reports zipping around the internet about Dr. Snyderman’s jaunt to the Peasant Grill, she issued an apology that Brian Williams read on his Nightly News broadcast last night.
It read as follows:
While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed. We remain healthy and our temperatures are normal.
As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused. We are thrilled that Ashoka is getting better and our thoughts continue to be with the thousands affected by Ebola whose stories we all went to cover.
We trust that as a medical professional and a journalist covering this story, Dr. Snyderman knows what it takes to keep people safe. But it’s just irresponsible for her to flout the quarantine at a time when people need reassurance that everyone is taking the proper precautions to contain this disease. That she needs to explain that, yes, she now understands that she needs to stay home… it’s just not a good look.
As for the apology, it gets points for stating that she and members of the team broke the rules. And she’s delivering good news by confirming that no one on the team are showing any symptoms. Dr. Snyderman also called into the Today show to let everyone know that the team’s gear had been disinfected and they were all “hyper-vigilant.” Even as a “medical professional,” she’ll want to steer clear of arrogance. Even the CDC Director Thomas Frieden is proceeding with great caution and learning as he goes.
With global health organizations trying to get a handle on this situation, the best thing Dr. Snyderman can do right now is just stay put and get back to us on the 22nd.