NEW YORK – NBC News medical reporter Nancy Snyderman apologized on the “Today” show Wednesday for violating her quarantine for Ebola exposure, saying she failed to appreciate how frightened Americans were of the disease.
It was Snyderman’s first on-air appearance in a month and a half, and she followed her talk with Matt Lauer by reporting a story on women and depression. NBC had kept her off the air following an angry public reaction to her broken promise: After saying she’d stay in her New Jersey home until the danger for symptoms of the disease had passed, she was spotted in a car getting takeout food.
“I’m very sorry for not only scaring my community and the country, but adding to the confusion of terms that came as fast and furious as the news about Ebola,” said Synderman, a surgeon who has worked for NBC News since 2006 after a long stint at ABC.
Snyderman had been reporting on the Ebola outbreak in Liberia in October and worked briefly with cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who came down with the deadly virus. Mukpo came back to the United States for treatment and has since recovered, and no one else from NBC was infected.
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Snyderman said she and fellow crew members were taking their temperatures several times a day to check to see if they were developing symptoms. But within 72 hours of agreeing to a 21-day quarantine, Snyderman left her home, compelling New Jersey authorities to then make her quarantine mandatory.
“We knew the risks in our heads,” Snyderman, “but we didn’t really appreciate and frankly were not sensitive to how absolutely frightened Americans were.”
She said “good people make mistakes and I stepped outside the boundaries of what I promised to do and what the public expected of me, and for that I’m sorry.”
Snyderman said she would be willing to go back to Africa tomorrow to cover Ebola. Left unsaid was whether NBC would take her off the story given the furor over her violation. There was genuine doubt among NBC executives about whether Snyderman would be allowed to return at all.