WASHINGTON -- With the swine flu came an exponential increase in advisories about preventing the spread of germs. Every press release about another possible case of H1N1 comes with reminders to wash your hands with hot water for at least 20 seconds, to use hand sanitizers liberally and to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough. Most media reports do, too.
So how could it slip past one of the most respected journalists in Washington?
When NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd sneezed during a White House briefing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' first natural reaction was a polite, "Bless you." Her second was an exasperated demonstration of sneezing into the crook of your arm, eliciting chuckles from the crowd and Todd himself.
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"I mean, what is that about?" Sebelius asked.
She then asked for hand sanitizer to put a quick stop to the spread of Todd's germs.
"Give that to Mr. Todd right away, a little hand sanitizer," she said before suggesting a little Muppet intervention.
"We'll have Elmo give Chuck a special briefing," she joked. "We'll get Elmo over. Elmo knows how to sneeze."
In Todd's defense, how many adults do you actually see coughing and sneezing into the crooks of their arms? And who wants to get snot all over their clothes? We were wrongfully raised to cough into our hands, leaving us carrying around handfuls of germs to pass around.
We'll never learn, so brace for an unusually sickly season.