Ron Klain, who in 2014 ran the Obama administration’s response to that year’s Ebola outbreak, told Yahoo News that if more Americans made simple adjustments such as ordering groceries instead of going to the store to shop, it could make a substantial difference in containing the coronavirus.
Klain, who also served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden and is now an adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign, was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to manage the administration’s (successful) response to Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever that originated in Africa. A handful of Americans contracted Ebola, but none through community spread. COVID-19, the illness that results from exposure to the coronavirus, is now confirmed in 14,631 Americans, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
While Klain said he has had to leave the house to get items at the drugstore and grocery, he has tried to have items delivered whenever possible, particularly since there is “a lot of evidence that the virus does not live very long on cardboard.”
He said Biden’s campaign has shut its offices and suspended field organizing, allowing him to work from home and plan for the election from his office there.
“I’m trying to leave the house as little as possible,” Klain told Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast hosts Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman during a wide-ranging Wednesday interview. “We’re doing all of our meetings, whenever possible, virtually, so we’re trying very, very hard to minimize our interactions on a personal level and on a societal level. And I think that’s really important.”
Klain said that when he is compelled to leave the house, he is very careful to stay several feet away from other people. Many Americans are struggling with the isolation involved in social distancing, and Klain was careful to emphasize that people can comply with social distancing mandates and still leave their homes.
“Go out for a walk, go out for a jog, you know — just stay away from other people,” he said. “This isn’t house arrest, and you have to do what you have to do.” But he added that anyone entering a store, even a drugstore for needed medication that can’t be delivered, needs to understand that “there’s definitely risk.”
When ordering supplies by delivery, it is important to stay several feet away from the delivery person, Klain said.
“The delivery person is another human being, so you want to keep your distance when the delivery person comes to the door,” he said. “This isn’t just only about protecting yourselves, but protecting others.”
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