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Anthrax Suspected in Two Washington Postal Worker Deaths

Aired October 23, 2001 - 06:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go ahead and look at the latest from the Postal Service concerning anthrax, and because of those anthrax cases, all employees of the U.S. Postal Service in Washington will be put in antibiotic treatments that is starting today.

More now from our Jeanne Meserve, who tells us that the move that some postal workers are saying, you know what? It's too little too late.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): District of Columbia officials say they'll get test results soon on one of two postal workers, who they suspect died of inhalation anthrax.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: It is very clear that their symptoms are suspicious, and their deaths are likely due to anthrax.

MESERVE: The two were employees at the Brentwood postal facility in the District of Columbia, through which the anthrax-contaminated letter to Senator Tom Daschle would have passed. Two other employees from Brentwood have been diagnosed with inhalation anthrax and are hospitalized, and nine other individuals in the Washington area are being monitored for the disease.

The Brentwood facility was closed Sunday. Thousands of postal workers in the Washington area are being tested for exposure to anthrax. Postal workers are being offered gloves and masks to wear on the job, and postal officials say they will no longer use blasts of air to blow dust out of their machines, an apparent effort to prevent anthrax from becoming airborne.

Also, the Postal Service went shopping for new technology that would use ultraviolet light to sanitize the mail.

JOHN POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL: It's used on food. It's used on surgical equipment and medical supplies. So we're very comfortable that it's a safe technology.

MESERVE: It will take some time for those machines to be purchased and installed, so for the time being, the Postal Service is still urging employees and the public to keep a lookout for suspicious items. (on camera): The federal government clearly wants to project an air of normalcy, and so officials said repeatedly that mail delivery will continue uninterrupted, unless they suspect anthrax. And then, in the words of the postmaster general, they will pull back.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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