Your Life In The Hands
Of Your Postal Worker?

From Geri Guidetti
Jeff - The following Commentary pertains to the article which follows it...
Now, picture this... Your local postman/woman will be burdened with carrying the lifesaving doses of antibiotics to your door....whether you are home or not. What happens if you are not? Leave it in an unlocked mailbox? Oops, sorry you didn't get it. Someone took it from your mailbox? Sorry, no second're out of luck. You die!
Also imagine the "creativity" of criminal elements in these 21 chosen big cities: just rob the postman/woman of their precious load, maybe even kill them if they resist, and then sell the Cipro or whatever to those able to pay outrageous sums to save their own, their families' lives after exposure. Black market/blackmail/extortion entrepereneurs.
More imaginings? If this hairbrained idea goes through, we will have successfully advertised to potential terrorists that it would be better to hit one of the mid- to large-sized cities NOT on the list of chosen 21. Depending on the "bug", natural spread of the biological agent could be assured (wind, air travel, trains, buses, restaurants,grocery stores, etc) and the lion's share of the Nation's antidotal antibiotics will be in other cities. By the time we figure out what all these people showing up in hospital ERs have, efforts to collect/redistribute antibiotics in the hands of local postal centers would be nearly impossible in time to save the majority of lives. Without supplies from the Federal stockpile, supplies in the rest of the country simply will not be able to handle a crisis in a mid-sized city(cities).
Who is writing the "what-if" and response scenarios for the Federal health officials? Whomever, they should be fired and replaced with people with the ability to THINK! Ask the States themselves for their ideas (See their comments, below.) Let them make their own plans. They know their communities and resources better than any Federal beaurocracy. They know who their brightest health professionals, thinkers and planners are. They know how to get big jobs done in their own states.
Taking the money away from all of the States to orchestrate such a narrow, ill-conceived, top-down response is one more reason to oust an Administration which has proven itself frighteningly incompetent to analyze realistically, to think imaginatively, to plan intelligently, to out-think our enemies.
The most frightening consequence of such incompetence will be the numbers of innocent lives lost. Have they learned nothing from the poor preparedness and chaos of 9-11? If this is the best this Administration has to offer the Nation for bioterrorism defense, then they should at least demonstrate the intelligence to recognize the plan's potential for failure, and seek more creative input.
Our Nation is full of creative, imaginative thinkers and world class public health talent. Arrogance and "Father Knows Best" political and philosophical posturing are the opposite of what we need...right survive as a Nation.
Yes, it IS that serious......
Geri Guidetti
The Ark Institute
Anthrax Antidote In The Mail?
By Michael Martz
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
June 17, 2004
First, the anthrax came in the mail. Now, maybe, the antidote.
Mail carriers may be asked to deliver antibiotics or other drugs to people in 21 major cities within 48 hours of a biological or chemical attack under a program that federal health officials plan to test.
The idea is to speed the delivery of drugs in case of widespread contamination of an urban area with a biological or chemical weapon, such as anthrax sprayed from a cropdusting plane. Mail carriers, the principal victims of the anthrax crisis in 2001, are one of the main options for doing it.
But for Virginia, the new plan means $1.1 million less in federal funding in the next fiscal year to guard against bioterrorism and nothing to show for it.
The government has committed to taking roughly $55 million from the states and giving about half of that to 21 major cities. In addition to the project for delivering drugs, the money taken from the states would be used to enhance surveillance and quarantine programs.
"We don't get anything back," said Dr. Robert B. Stroube, the state commissioner of health.
Stroube and other state officials are not happy with the federal plan, disclosed this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with little notice. They don't like losing the money for bioterrorism programs they've already planned, and they don't see how the plan improves public safety in an emergency.
"This makes absolutely no sense," said George W. Foresman, special assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness.
The purpose of the initiative is to send money to cities with the biggest populations and highest ANTHRAXrisk, such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and then look for ways to speed drug delivery for everyone, a federal spokesman said.
"The postal piece is an option for states to use," said Von Roebuck at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "It's not the be-all and end-all for everyone."
However, Foresman is as concerned about the federal process as the outcome. "This was a decision that was made with minimal state and local input."
He is a member of the executive committee that oversees homeland security in the Washington, D.C., region. Federal health officials first aired the notion of using postal carriers to deliver antibiotics in an emergency to the committee this winter. The committee didn't think much of the idea and suggested further work, he said.
The Washington, D.C., region would receive $880,000, but the money would not flow through Virginia or Maryland, and state health officials don't know if they'd even be involved.
Currently, the state must have plans for distributing drugs from the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile statewide within 10 days. The pilot is intended to cut that deadline to two days in case of widespread contamination of a city.
However, Virginia health officials say they have a good record of preparing for and responding to these kinds of emergencies. "We know what the issues are," said spokeswoman Trina H. Lee.
The use of volunteer postal workers is the most specific of the three options that the government has outlined for carrying out the project. Another is dispersing the drugs from the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile at central locations, as public health agencies always have done.
The third option "would involve individual mechanisms identified and developed by cities and states," according to a fact sheet posted by CDC on its Web site.
But the states say they haven't been asked for ideas. "The first thing we knew about it was they were going to take our money," Stroube said.



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