Growing Anthrax Fear Leads to Increased Wariness
Fears of anthrax exposure multiplied yesterday across the nation, especially in New York and Washington, D.C., where new cases of the bacteria possibly traveling through the mail were announced and "false alarms" increased the workload of already "exhausted teams of experts," the Washington Times reports (Cella, Washington Times, 10/16). On Capitol Hill, the news that preliminary tests showed that anthrax was found in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's (D-S.D.) office "sent ripples of anger and anxiety across the Capitol" (Lancaster/Eilperin, Washington Post, 10/16). Here are some further snapshots of the anthrax scare both in the United States and across the world:
- In New York City, officials said false alarms and hoaxes were overwhelming emergency services. Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said, "People are kind of panicking. ... We got a call this morning about some dust coming from a bridge. It was concrete; there are construction workers working" (Washington Times, 10/16).
- In the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, parents yesterday took children to an emergency room after a teacher at their school opened an envelope containing a powdery white substance. Health officials said they did not believe it was anthrax (Campanile/Graves, New York Post, 10/16).
- In Fairfax, Va., outside of Washington, D.C. a floor of the Fairfax County Courthouse was quarantined after a clerk opened a letter containing white powder, which later tested negative. Over the past two days, the county's hazardous materials unit has responded to more than 100 calls about suspected anthrax. "Our resources are spread very thin. We are running units all over the place," Fairfax Battalion Chief Daryl Louder said (Shear/Jackman, Washington Post, 10/16).
- In Philadelphia, fire officials received 53 calls reporting "suspicious substances" (Worden/Holmes, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/16).
- In Louisville, Ky., one woman now prohibits her 11-year old son from opening the mail and the woman will not drink tap water (Rimer, New York Times, 10/16).
- A Continental Airlines flight was quarantined at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport after a flight attendant found a "suspicious white powder" on the plane (Washington Times, 10/16).
- In Germany, the offices of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder were "sealed off" after a letter containing white powder was found (Erlanger, New York Times, 10/16).
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 65% of respondents were "at least somewhat concerned" about the anthrax incidents, with 54% saying they "were worried that they or someone they knew might be the victim of an anthrax attack"; 25% said they worried a "great deal" about the possibility. However, 85% said they were "satisfied" with the government's response to the situation. And 70% said they were "confident that authorities could deal with a large-scale biological attack or chemical attack." The complete poll can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/vault/stories/data101501.htm (Morin/Deane, Washington Post, 10/16).