Ridge Hopes to ‘Reassure’ Public on Anthrax Threat
The Bush administration yesterday launched a "broad campaign," led by new Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, to "quell criticism" that the administration "lacks a unified plan" to address the "growing number" of anthrax cases and has provided the public with "confusing or inaccurate information," the Washington Post reports. At a press conference, Ridge appeared with Attorney General John Ashcroft, Surgeon General David Satcher, Postmaster General John Potter and CDC officials to "reassure" the public that the government has responded to the anthrax threat. Ridge said that the government has "adequate supplies" of Cipro, the only FDA approved drug to treat inhaled anthrax, and that the government would stockpile the smallpox vaccine in the event that officials mandate inoculations for all Americans (Pianin, Washington Post, 10/19). Ridge also said that he would "transform" the 46 government agencies that have homeland defense duties to allow them to respond to bioterrorism threats, but he "played down discussion" about whether he would recommend "drastic changes." In addition, he said that he would coordinate an "agency-wide, cross-government-wide" response in the event of a bioterrorist attack (Purdum/Becker, New York Times, 10/19). However, Ridge said that would not have "day-to-day operational, tactical authority" over the agencies (Washington Post, 10/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.