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Giuliani Holds Press Conference

Aired November 1, 2001 - 13:44   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Here in New York, the mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, is meeting with reporters. He's talked about -- I'm not precisely sure where he is now -- but he's talked about this large amount of federal money that's coming into the city to help rebuild the city. We assume there will be questions about anthrax as well.

And we'll be quiet now and let the mayor speak.


MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: ... and we thank the president very, very much for giving this the priority that it has been given.

Sunday is going to be a very difficult traffic day in New York City, so people should be aware of it now. There will be additional streets and areas that are going to be closed down for the marathon so that we can accommodate the marathon, we can make sure that it's secure and that it's safe and that everybody is comfortable with doing it.

I left that piece of paper in my office, you want it get it? And we can give them the listing of places.

The investigation of the case at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital is going on. We've interviewed -- police and the FBI have interviewed an enormous number of employees, along with the Health Department and CDC. People are being interviewed for two different purposes: One purpose is the actual criminal investigation, to try to determine how the woman became infected; and the other is to interview them to make sure that they have no symptoms, they're being tested properly and they're being given the appropriate prophylaxis if it's necessary.

At this point we haven't gotten back all of the additional tests that were done yesterday. But there is no -- at this point, there is no other positive finding that we've received. But we have not gotten back the large bulk of tests that were done yesterday, and probably won't get those back until later today. So at that point we may have more -- we may have more information.

We do know that the other employee that was a matter of concern yesterday, who had a small lesion that did not appear to be anthrax, but still, she was concerned and she wanted it tested. So far the tests, although not conclusive yet -- but so far the tests that they've been able to take appear negative. So hopefully it will remain that way.

And the same thing is true with the clothes that the woman who died was wearing. So far, although they showed early indications of anthrax, they appear to be negative.

And I think that covers -- that covers most of it.

NEAL COHEN, NYC HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Also, there were 28 nasal swabs that were taken at the eye and ear, and throat hospital of coworkers who were in relatively close proximity to the deceased victim. And they all came back negative as well.

So to this moment, we don't have any evidence of anthrax, but the environmental sampling that was done yesterday was very comprehensive, and we will get results that will lead us to know with more certainty whether we found any evidence of anthrax spores in that facility.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) your thoughts on the letter that was found that you had mentioned yesterday (OFF-MIKE)

GIULIANI: That letter has proven negative.


GIULIANI: So far everything that we have available is negative. It's not final yet.


GIULIANI: We're still waiting on the tests from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I guess. Is that right? No, the culture has proved negative. The culture that we did has proved negative.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about reports that school number 61 in the Bronx -- there's been detection of anthrax there, or at the state office building at 163 West 126th Streets, suspicious packages?

GIULIANI: Well, suspicious packages are all over. I mean, the city has been filled with suspicious packages for the last six weeks. But we'll check -- somebody just -- a very fine man, a minister tried to give me a note out here, and it was going to take two weeks for me to get the note. So, I mean, everybody is all worried about suspicious packages. But I don't know about the school. I don't think it says that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any reports of any -- any confirmed reports. But as the mayor said, we're getting numbers of calls of suspicious packages, and we're checking them all out. I'll follow up on these.

QUESTION: Someone from CDC said today that so far the tests (OFF-MIKE) mail (OFF-MIKE) do not -- indicate they don't think the mail is the source of (OFF-MIKE) also since there (OFF-MIKE) clothes after all, will there be anything you will be able to do (OFF-MIKE) anthrax infections?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, again, the results from the clothes and all of the other samples are not yet final. We give you what information that we have available. What we now have available is that the additional testing that's been done on the clothes is not confirming the first preliminary positive. And so we think that the clothes are probably going to turn out to be negative. That often happens when you did a lot of testing, so that's not necessarily surprising.

As far as the organism itself, we did have a number of cultures from the patient herself before she died. And those specimens have been looked at in our laboratory. Now, this is the actual organism, the anthrax organism. And it is what we call indistinguishable from all of the others.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Daschle's office?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them have been basically indistinguishable from each other.

QUESTION: Since you don't know, obviously, at this point -- I mean, you talked yesterday about trying to backtrack and see what the source could be. Since at this point we don't know what that is, could you tell us about precautions regarding the (OFF-MIKE) closed? What about her apartment building, for instance, you know, that's not being isolated? (OFF-MIKE)

COHEN: The facility will continue to be closed as we go through, very carefully, all of the environmental sampling and get the definitive testing, because we certainly would not want to prematurely open such a facility. We expect that will take another couple of days, and then we'll look at the results and determine whether that facility can open at that time.

The reason that the facility was closed, obviously, was the individual's proximity to the mail room and the usual association that takes place between that.

The preliminary testing that we did in the deceased victim's apartment came back negative. So we don't have any evidence to suggest that there is a public health threat for people living in that building.

QUESTION: How many more tests are needed before you can find out whether or not the woman or the individual with the lesion has anthrax? (OFF-MIKE) so far?

GIULIANI: I think there's one test that has to come back.


GIULIANI: It will come back.


QUESTION: Mr. Cohen, some residents of the Bronx were...


GIULIANI: Hopefully soon.

QUESTION: ... were expressing a concern that they had not been tested and not been offered antibiotics, as were employees and even visitors to the eye, ear and throat clinic. Can you just explain to those people why it is that there was one thing downtown and one thing in the Bronx?

COHEN: Well, you know, we did do environmental sampling in the apartment and the mail slot. And at this point we don't see any evidence of any anthrax, anthrax exposure there. And we're going to have our staff go up to the Bronx and participate with the community to explain all of that and allay their fears.

QUESTION: And sir, if I may (OFF-MIKE) concern is that you also aren't seeing any evidence of anthrax at the hospital, and they're wondering why, as a precaution...


COHEN: I think given the reality of the way in which the anthrax has been delivered in the United States, the way we've received it, the relationship to mail delivery is such that you'd have to have a greater concern about that mail room, given that the individual was working in very, very close proximity to that mail room. And until we can rule that out, as a hospital facility where people go in for treatment, surgical procedures, it would be irresponsible to allow people to enter such a facility without absolutely being sure that there is no possible exposure there. It's very different from an apartment situation.

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, back to the Yankees for a moment. It was three to one, bottom of the ninth, and two outs. Did you have one second of doubt that perhaps they might not pull it off?

GIULIANI: I was taught that by Phil Rizzuto. Phil Rizzuto once told me that playing with Joe DiMaggio was something like this: When the Yankees were losing 10-nothing, and they would go out in the first half of the ninth inning thinking about what they would have to do in the bottom of the ninth inning. He would gaze back at Joe DiMaggio, watch him standing in center field and say, we're going to win; I know we're going to win. So I've been a Yankee fan since way back then, and I always keep believing we're going to win.

I was once at a game in which the Yankees were losing eight to nothing to Rogers Clemens when he pitched for the Red Sox. And my friends wanted to leave. And I said, no, let's stay, they're going to win. And we did, we beat Roger that day.


(LAUGHTER) GIULIANI: That's all done to lull them into a false sense of complacency. That's, you know, when Posado -- when Soriano didn't -- when Posado didn't bunt, when we had two men on and didn't move anyone over to second or third -- all those things were done, because then you actually get the other team to start believe they could possibly win. I'm sure Arizona probably thought in the last inning that they were probably win.


GIULIANI: I'm considering it. Yes, I haven't decided yet.


QUESTION: Someone (OFF-MIKE) that a lot of firemen down at Ground Zero are (OFF-MIKE) similar to emphysema, (OFF-MIKE) that?

GIULIANI: I have not heard that. I have not heard that.

QUESTION: Can you tell us more about the marathon (OFF-MIKE)

GIULIANI: The marathon is going to have over 30,000 people. And for the first time ever, the police department is planning to completely close the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in both directions. In prior marathons the bridge would be closed in the Staten Island-bound direction, but the Brooklyn-bound lower level would remain open. So we're going to close the Brooklyn-bound lower level at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, and possibly even earlier than that, to make it a little bit easier for everybody to move. The Staten Island ferry will not...

BROWN: Well, as the mayor is moving on to pretty much local questions -- the closing of streets for Sunday's New York City Marathon -- the principal news out of the news briefing is that city officials and the CDC, and all of the investigators who are working on this still have no idea how Kathy Nguyen, the woman who died yesterday of inhalation anthrax -- how she contracted the disease. They haven't found it at her apartment. They did find it on her clothes, but they don't know how it got there.

And so it is just a continuing and troubling mystery, since she had no contact in the obvious ways, at least as far as they can tell -- didn't work at the post office, didn't work in the media, and didn't work in Senator Daschle's office in the Hart Building.

And the mayor, who, as you could tell, is an enormous Yankee fan, was feeling quite good after the Yankee comeback last night, and was trying to decide whether to go to Arizona -- I think that's what it was.




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