For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 19, 2001
Director Ridge Briefs Media at Week's End
Briefing on Homeland Security by Governor Thomas Ridge, Director of Homeland
Security Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. David
Satcher, Surgeon General of the United States Joseph Allbaugh, Director
of Federal Emergency Management Agency
Brady Briefing Room
The White House
to the Briefing
- Gov. Ridge and Dir. Allbaugh's
conference call with governors
- Summary of financial support for FEMA's 21st
- Excellent federal, state
and local coordination
- Anthrax, government steps to protect
- Anthrax, summary of cases in FL, NY, NJ,
- Science of testing, Surgeon General
David Satcher's comments
- Federalization of airport security
1:05 P.M. EDT
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's good to be
with you again to give you another update on homeland security. As I mentioned
to you yesterday the President wants us to continue to update the American
people with as much factual information as we can, as often as we can.
So, today the senior officials you see here will give you the latest updates
from their various areas of responsibility.
But before they brief I want to
update you on a few very specific items. Later this afternoon FEMA
Director Joe Allbaugh and I will hold a conference call with our
nation's governors to brief them on the latest federal efforts to
protect our homeland. We are working closer than
ever with our state and local governments, and as I mentioned to a few
yesterday, the President's assignment to me was to coordinate a national
strategy, not a federal one; national strategy meaning we've got to
pull in our state and local counterparts as well to help us protect against
threats and improve our ability to respond to them. You can well appreciate
that point of view, not only from the President of the United States,
but the Director of Homeland Security, having both seen in our own professional
lives the importance of a strong state and local capacity to both prevent
We understand just how important it is that
governors get the assistance they need, when they need it, and how they
need it. This afternoon I plan to brief the governors with the latest
information on our homeland security efforts. I also, and probably just
as importantly, want to solicit their input on how we can strengthen
our coordination at the federal, the national -- excuse me, the federal,
the state and the local level.
I will also let them know that we are announcing
today that we have worked with Joe Allbaugh and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency to establish a new homeland security support team
that will serve as a central point of contact for governors and other
state and local officials. This new team will complement the current and
very successful public health network. FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh is here
with us today to give you more details on this new team. Director Allbaugh
will also have some other announcements of new FEMA activities to help
protect our homeland.
FEMA's new team is just one more example of how FEMA is doing a great
job to meet their new and challenging mission. FEMA Will be called upon
time and time again as we continue to improve our domestic security.
FEMA had a 20th Century role, a very important role, to respond to natural
disasters and to prepare for the threat of natural disasters and respond
to them when they occurred. The 21st Century role of FEMA will be enhanced
and, therefore, its abilities to both prevent and respond to man-made
disasters will have to be enhanced as well.
So we've got a new mission. And frankly, one of my strong beliefs is that
we will have to make FEMA an even bigger and stronger agency in the future
to deal with its dual mission.
FEMA has done a fantastic job of meeting their 20th Century mission, and
now we must help them prepare for their 21st Century mission.
Let me update you on our efforts to support
that mission. To date we have released $2 billion to FEMA, another
nearly $5 million for FEMA is pending before Congress. We will also
be providing, and Director Allbaugh hopefully will spend a few moments
explaining this to you, but we are also going to provide over $500
million, 550 to be exact, through FEMA, in grants to state
and local communities to help them identify and then strengthen their
own needs back home. We will also be giving an additional $296 million
to Health and Human Services. For that agency, Secretary Thompson
is here and ask him to share a few thoughts about that. But for that agency
to use for state and local grants for emergency preparedness.
Again, not just training and equipment, trying to tie our local and state
first responders in emergency management network to our federal system.
As I said, we are working
hand-in-hand with local governments. The federal, state and local team
is more coordinated than ever. Let me give you just one more example
of that coordination. During the past several days I have been in
fairly frequent contact with Mayor Giuliani, Governor Bush, Governor Pataki.
My last conversation I had with Governor Pataki, he mentioned there was
a Coast Guard cutter, the Tahoma that was on protecting the shores
and some infrastructure. He asked if the Coast Guard cutter that was scheduled
to leave on Friday -- it's stay could be extended. I want to thank
Admiral Lloyd, the Coast Guard for responding so quickly to the request
from the governors so the Coast Guard cutter will remain in New York longer.
That's just one example, and I suspect there will be many more that we
can highlight over the days and weeks ahead.
I do think it highlights how closely we are working with state and local
officials as we try to respond as quickly as possible to their needs.
America's state and local officials are doing an extraordinary job of
responding to their citizens' needs.
As the first to experience the anthrax situations, Florida's government
and public health officials have responded well to difficult and extremely
challenging circumstances. They responded immediately when a mysterious
disease took the life of one of their citizens. They controlled the situation.
They controlled the situation and then they got immediate help to their
citizens who needed treatment. They remained calm. They had been reassuring.
And most importantly they have been very, very effective.
Lately, the American people are hearing
a lot about potential anthrax threats, and our government is taking
every step possible to protect them. Secretary Thompson and Surgeon General
David Satcher are here today to give you the latest update with regard
to our outstanding public health network as well.
Everyday the Office of Homeland Security is looking
to enhance or improve our prevention capability and our response
capability, our borders and our ports of entry are tighter. Our
airports and aircraft get progressively more secure. As reported
today, Reagan National Airport is now expanding it's flight operations
to include more flights, and our water supplies, power plants,
dams, and other critical infrastructures are being guarded
and strengthened as well. Many of these new security measures
are clearly visible, but many, many more are not.
Yesterday, EPA Administrator Whitman briefed
the American people on the safety of their water systems. And today
I've asked Linda Fisher, EPA's Deputy Administrator, to be here to answer
any further questions you may have about our efforts to protect our nation's
Before I ask the individuals with me to step forward
and to give you a little bit more detail about what their respective agencies
are doing to strengthen our homeland security, I want to bring you up
to date with a conversation I had with the FBI Director, Bob Mueller,
about the ongoing anthrax investigation. The tests to date,
and we finally have -- we have the anthrax strains from AMI in Florida,
from the Brokaw letter in New York and the Daschle letter here in Washington
-- the tests to date have concluded that the strains are indistinguishable.
They are similar. The tests to date also have shown, and it's a word that
I put quotes around, a term of art in -- new language -- the tests have
shown that these strains have not been "weaponized." That's
the latest report from FBI Director Robert Mueller.
So I wanted to ask FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh --
Q You say they're indistinguishable. Does that mean they are the same?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Similar. Yes. The test to date -- perhaps I'll let Dr.
Satcher respond to that, but as Director Mueller said to me, very precisely,
the strains are indistinguishable; all three, AMI, New York, Brokaw letter,
Why don't we get -- I'll be happy to get to the questions after I have
these other three individuals spend a little time with you. Okay, thank
DIRECTOR ALLBAUGH: Thank you, Governor.
Good afternoon. At the Governor's request, which was an outgrowth of a
conversation he and I had on Tuesday afternoon, we have begun today operations
of the Homeland Security Emergency Support Team with FEMA.
This will serve as the central coordination point for all consequence
management information. The Homeland Security Emergency Support team will
report to the Governor's office with the latest information in a timely
fashion from all federal agencies, state and local governments.
As I said, we began operations at noon today at FEMA headquarters with
representatives from the Departments of Defense, Justice, HHS, Veterans'
Affairs, Energy, EPA, Corps of Engineers, United States Postal Service,
United States Capitol Police and the D.C. Emergency Management Department.
This team will not be making public statements. Public announcements will
continue to be made by Governor Ridge, his office, The White House and
Additionally, we will be discussing with the nation's governors this afternoon
better ways to coordinate state and local information with our information.
FEMA is currently working on a capability
assessment plan for all 50 states. Starting next week, our teams will
fan out to the 50 states to assess their ability to respond to an event,
and to assess where we think they should be and/or how they should get
there. We will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with you, Governor, and
other federal agencies, Secretary, and the states to provide the best
protection and response for the American people. Thank you very much.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I'm always happy to work shoulder-to-shoulder with you.
I am always happy to do that.
Secretary Thompson. Tommy.
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Thank you very much, Tom. I feel like I spent most
of the evening with you last night. It ended up, I think, 11:30 quarter
to twelve last night talking to you and certainly want to take this opportunity
to congratulate my old friend Governor Ridge. I don't think President
Bush could have picked a better person to head the Office of Homeland
Security than Governor Tom Ridge, and I thank you very much for accepting
It is important to note that the federal
and the state and local governments are working extremely well together
beginning September 11th, including each of the cases of anthrax or anthrax
exposure around the country. Yesterday, Jeff Copeland from CDC and myself
talked to American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association.
And the American Medical Association indicated to CDC and to Jeff Copeland
that approximately 50,000 doctors and other medical personnel was
on that teleconference.
The public health infrastructure I want
you to know full well is responding extremely well to this threat. Americans
should rest assured in knowing that we are responding quickly and effectively
both at the local and federal levels. Local health officials are doing
an excellent job in some very difficult circumstances. And as I have reminded
them during meetings in recent days, we will respond whenever they request
with personnel, with medication and expertise wherever and whenever it
As we repeatedly said, we are prepared to respond to any case around
the country, and we are responding, but we must do more, and we are doing
We have sent Congress a $1.5 billion
for my department's efforts to combat bioterrorism. Our proposal
significantly enhances state and local preparedness, while boosting our
national pharmaceutical stockpile. The package also accelerates and increases
production of the smallpox vaccine, strengthens the Health Alert Network
and the early surveillance programs in coordination with state and local
public health systems.
And I had a teleconference at
11 o'clock this morning with the nation's governors and their staff
and the state health departments, and they all complimented the President
and the administration for supporting the improvement in the strengthening
of the public health system.
We are also going to be strengthening
the hospital preparedness across America with more educational courses.
And we are also, of course, going to be doing something about protecting
and enhancing our inspections on food supply, strengthening state
and federal laboratory capacity and technology. And we're going
to add more epidemiologists who are trained by CDC and put them
in state public health departments across America in order to be able
to be the first line defenders and those individuals that know more about
infectious diseases, and improve our laboratory security.
Also today I would like to repeat a few
key facts. Anthrax is not contagious. We have had thousands
and we have thousands of tests done and so far we have only six confirmed
cases of the anthrax disease. We still have a couple other cases that
we are reviewing right now, but at the present time there are only six
confirmed cases of anthrax.
As a reminder, there are two cases of inhalation anthrax in Florida
at America Media, a 63 year old man who passed away and a 73 year old
man who is recovering and is being treated on antibiotics.
In New York, there are three cases at NBC, ABC, and CBS. Each are
being treated with antibiotics, and the sixth case confirmed by the CDC
is a postal worker in Trenton, New Jersey who also has been treated with
And finally today, will be the last day of Congressional staff's swab
tests, and tests of nasal swabs collected on Monday will be completed
by the end of the day today. And testing also continues on the approximately
1,400 tests that have already been collected on Tuesday.
Preliminary results on about 600 have produced no new positives, and I
just spoke with the deputy surgeon general who I assigned to the Congress
and who's got a full time office up there, who notified me that of the
31 people who tested positive for exposure in Senator Daschle's office,
at least one has tested negative after further testing.
I'd also like to introduce D.A. Henderson, and he is the father of the
eradication of smallpox and he is the head of my science advisory committee
and also science advisor and of course, Surgeon General David Satcher
is here. I would also point out of the two tests in Florida and New York
which have been conducted by CDC, there are 30 items that are checked
on a particular to make the comparison, and those 30 things have compared
equally the same; the 30 tests that are taken on the Anthrax in Florida
and New York. We have not finished our confirmation testing on the one
from Fort Dietrick.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: My pleasure to introduce one more guest, Surgeon General
GENERAL SATCHER: Thank you. I want
to primarily support what secretary Thompson has said. I want to say just
a word about tests because I think there has been some confusion
about the point in time in which we report on a test. For example, the
initial nasal swabs that we report, and I think initially we reported
31 positive out of Senator Daschle's area, and that number is probably
going to end up being less than that because the first test is a screening
test, and as a rule, screening tests are very sensitive, and they are
so sensitive that you do sometimes have false positives. And then follow-up
tests may well turn out to be negative. And that's what you want.
You don't want the screening tests to miss
anybody. So you want to be exceptionally sensitive; and, therefore, you
sometimes get false positives. You've got people who appear to be positive
who, later on, with further testing, after you've been able to grow the
organism in culture, you will find that they are negative. And that's
what we have here. So each one of these tests, as we go further, reveals
new information. And that will continue even. I'm sure the tests at Fort
Dietrick are not complete, even though at this point, as you've heard,
there is no evidence of differences in strain. Certainly nothing that
would imply any differences in responding to antibiotics. So, we feel
very comfortable with that.
But in terms of the specificity of the tests, as we move forward
with DNA fingerprinting and things like that, there might be minor differences.
But as the Secretary said, to this point, if you look at the Florida and
New York strains, even after 31 tests they are identical.
But we are going to hear that maybe 31 were positive, and then later on
we found that some of those were, in fact, negative because of the nature
of the tests.
The public health infrastructure takes very seriously
the responsibility for early detection, for investigation, for laboratory
diagnosis and then for responding appropriately to the challenge. And
that's what we've been trying to do. And I think so far we should be very
comfortable that the system has responded very well in terms of getting
epidemiologists on site to do those investigations, but also to deliver
And the other thing that I think is worth repeating that we said yesterday,
a negative nasal swab does not mean that people will not be put on antibiotics.
What we are looking for is exposure. One can, in fact, be exposed to anthrax
and be at risk if not put on antibiotics. And so many of the people out
of Senator Daschle's office who had negative nasal tests will, in fact,
be continued for 60 days because we have been able to demonstrate that
there was, in fact, in that area the anthrax bacteria. Thank you.
Q Can you explain to us what you mean when
you say that it was not "weaponized?" Does that mean
that the spores were not small enough to be inhaled? Does it mean that
the anthrax wasn't produced in a factory-like setting? What does it mean?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: The term, as I think people have been using it, it relates
to some kind of reduction in size and then coating with another substance
that makes it easier to release with less energy. And so far as they've
been able to detect will all the tests they've run, and they continue
to run tests, there is no results that would suggest that it has been
"weaponized". That's not necessarily a scientific term or a
medical term but --
Q One follow-up if I may. If that's the case and this is the same or indistinguishable
strain that appeared in Florida, in Florida you had two cases of inhaled
anthrax. So somehow they managed to inhale it even though it's not --
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Correct. Clearly you can have, and I'll let the Surgeon
General speak to that if I might -- as a matter of fact, I think that
is exactly what I will do. (Laughter.)
GENERAL SATCHER: You can certainly have inhaled anthrax without having
"weaponized" anthrax, and I think it just means that the
-- when the agent is "weaponized," as you are calling it, that
means the likelihood of inhaling the exact sizes -- and generally ideally
it's somewhere around 5 microns. You think about the fact that a human
hair is about 100 microns. So a certain size of anthrax is much more efficient
in terms of infecting a person than clumps of spores if you will. So it
means that the risk of, in fact, getting an infection would be greater
certainly if it's aerosolized and certainly if the sizes have been reduced
Q So what is the size of the microns
of the samples that you all have?
GENERAL SATCHER: Well, they are various sizes. But I think what we are
saying is if they are "weaponized," there will be more of the
optimal size for infection. But if they are not, then you are going to
get clumps. That means that it depends on the number of spores in a clump,
for example, in terms of the size and whether it easily gets into the
alveoli of the lungs. Those are the issues I think that we are talking
Q The samples from New York and Florida were different sizes?
Q Are you any closer to knowing whether it came from a foreign source
or a domestic source?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I can't give you any information on that at all today.
Q I think they're all the same strain,
does that mean they come from the same supply point? And why are
you so slow in finding the actual source? I mean, is it that difficult
really? Is it all in New Jersey and so forth?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I think, first of all, the process of -- of course we're
moving as quickly as possible to identify, first of all, the strain to
determine whether or not there is any characteristics that suggest it
has been altered so that it would be easier to inhale and, therefore,
to infect. And if you watched -- in seeing what the Justice and FBI are
doing, they've been able to trace back to try to find where the letters
were mailed. So that investigation is ongoing. But I can't report anything
to you on that. But medically, I --
Q Do you think they all came from the same supply point?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: One could draw that conclusion. It does appear that it
may have been from the same batch, but it may have been distributed to
different individuals to infect and to send into the different communities.
Q Where do they have these batches? Where would these be available?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Well, I can't answer that question. But I think when the
Justice and the FBI get done, they will be able to do that. That's their
Q Governor, a question for you
and a question for Secretary Thompson. First of all, there is a lot of
dispute of whether people at the airport in charge of security should
be federalized or not. A lot of people are saying they should be federalized,
but there seems to be dispute between The White House and the Republican
Congress with the Democrats. How do you fall in this line? Are you for
federalized or for keeping them the way they are with more training?
And for Secretary Thompson, there is a lot of talk out there about the
Cipro and other antibiotics. A lot of people are saying Cipro -- one company
has the patent --should they be asked to allow a generic drugs of Cipro
to also be available to the population?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: My point of view, and I did express this say yesterday,
and hopefully it will be perhaps clearer. I believe that the source of
the paycheck isn't as important as the need for the Federal Government
to set standards so that whomever the employer is, that the men and women
who take upon -- who are given the assignment, the task of providing security,
meet a standard of competency and training. There has been a lot of discussions
that whether these people are barely paid above the minimum wage and they're
not competent, they don't have adequate training.
My view about federalization -- we'll let the Congress work it's will.
Having been -- spent 12 years up there, I'm not surprised that one chamber
has a different version than the other chamber. That's probably not news.
But I do think that the Federal Government has a role to saying, "From
this day forward in the 21st Century, if airline and airport security
is critical to us, and it obviously is, then the Federal Government should
set minimum guidelines and minimum standards."
Q How about a background
GENERAL SATCHER: That would be included. I mean I do think there is a
secure area, not just in terms of passengers but those who have access
to the planes. There is an area around which the Federal Government should
be able to set the standards, the regulations, require the background
checks. And when I use the term "federalized," that is what
SECRETARY THOMPSON: First
off, all of these strains are very sensitive to a lot of antibiotics.
Cipro, doxycycline and penicillin. The FDA just issued, and I announced
it on Capitol Hill, that doxycycline and penicillin are as effective as
ciprofloxin is in order to treat anthrax poisoning. That is point number
Second point is that we have negotiated
and are in the process of negotiating with all of these companies,
generic companies as well, in regards to purchasing antibiotics,
an enhanced purchase, going from 2 million individuals up to cover an
additional 10 million or 12 million. And we are going to be purchasing
generic drugs as well as some prescription drugs under ciprofloxin.
Number three, some of the legal problems
set out by our legal counsel and FDA under the law says that if we would
go against the patent, we would still have to pay damages and,
therefore, it may be more costly than going in and purchasing generics.
When you have other generic drugs that we can purchase such as doxycycline
which are effective as ciprofloxin is in treating anthrax. And it is also
put out by FDA that those are very effective. And CDC has confirmed that
all of the anthrax are sensitive to these.
The fourth thing is we are negotiating a price, and I think you would
be very satisfied with that price once I get done, and the price may be
very much in line with the generics, but those negotiations are going
Q Secretary Thompson, where
did you get the 12 million figure? How did you arrive at that,
decide that -- on what --
SECRETARY THOMPSON: We had a scientific review committee composed
of some scientists in CDC and people in Department of Health and Human
Services who decided that if you were really going to have a widespread
break out of anthrax, how many would you actually -- the worst case
scenario, how many would you have, and that was the risk analysis that
we came up with, and that's why we decided to go and purchase. And there
is no evidence whatsoever we would ever hit that, but the scientists made
Q But then you have -- you're talking about smallpox for the entire
SECRETARY THOMPSON: See, but smallpox is contagious. Anthrax is not
contagious, and that's a big difference. And therefore, you would
be able to handle the anthrax much easier than if you had an outbreak
of smallpox because of the contagious factor. And we're not going in and
inoculate the people, we're just going to have it available.
Q Governor Ridge, what can you tell
us about the employee for the New York Post who has tested positive
for skin anthrax, and how many other cases are you looking at of possible
positive tests for anthrax infections.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I missed the first part of the question.
Q An employee with the New York Post who apparently has tested positive
for skin anthrax.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I'm not sure I have that latest information. We knew that
there had been six confirmed exposures, and there are, to my knowledge,
the last information that I received was that there are tests pending
on three additional individuals.
Q And where are those individuals? Are they connected with --
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I don't have that information to share with you. I just
don't have it.
Q Can you give us an update on New
Jersey involving the postal inspectors and the FBI, what they're doing,
what they're searching for, and whether or not they're successful?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: The FBI has been able to identify the site where the letters
were mailed, and that's the only specific piece of information I can give
you. It is an ongoing investigation and until -- again, one of the challenges
of a meeting like this is to give you information that's relevant and
available, and that's all I can give you right now. It's an ongoing investigation.
We have several hundred agents working that part of the case, and if there's
additional information, I'll be sure to get back to you.
Q The mailbox or the post office?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Mailbox.
Q Given the tests that have been taken
so far both on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, who's being given what
antibiotic and in what dosage strength? Is it three days? Is it six days?
Is it sixty days? Who's getting what and for how long?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I will let the Surgeon General respond to that, but I
think they --
GENERAL SATCHER: Let me just say, Governor Ridge, the most recent data
that I have is that the person from the New York Post tested negative.
That doesn't mean, as I said before, there will be a later test. But what
we have right here is that person tested negative.
I think, as you know, all the people in the area were put on Cipro, and
they were given doses for three days. The idea was to assess the environment,
and if it turned out that there were, in fact, anthrax in the environment
-- I believe in this case of Senator Daschle on the fifth and sixth floor
-- so anybody who had been in that area on Monday, I believe October 15th,
was tested and put on Cipro, and other people were, too, as they checked
to see if there was evidence of anthrax in their environment.
After they determined that the exposure area was limited to the fifth
and sixth floor, then all of those people who were on the fifth and sixth
floor who came to the fifth and sixth floor, would be treated for 60 days.
And, as you know, most of those people will have negative nasal swabs.
But the idea of the nasal swab, among other things, is to help localize
the place of exposure. But once you determine that there was probable
exposure, because you know that there was anthrax in that area, then we
treat those people for 60 days.
Q Are there any other postal workers outside of New Jersey being tested
for infection from anthrax?
GENERAL SATCHER: I can't answer that because I don't know all of the people
who are being tested right now because it's dynamic, it's changing all
Q How about in Washington?
GENERAL SATCHER: There are people being tested, there are people who have
lined up to be tested because they feel that they could have been exposed,
and in most cases we're allowing them to be tested. I believe in the department
yesterday people were tested.
Q What about the Grand Hall and the first floor of the department, are
there any individuals who want to come in and be tested?
Q My point is that have you -- are there any indications that other postal
workers who may have handled letters with anthrax have been infected in
any other places besides New Jersey?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: We are reviewing some cases.
Q Why were they given Cipro if penicillin and doxycycline work as well?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Because that was what Majority Leader Daschle had requested
and we furnished it.
GENERAL SATCHER: And often, though, we start with Cipro until we get the
sensitivities. And once we get it's clear --
Q Do they stay on Cipro?
GENERAL SATCHER: Not necessarily. You begin with Cipro until you determine
that they are sensitive to penicillin and doxycycline and then you can
make a decision to change if indicated. For example, you wouldn't want
to continue a child in any case on Cipro beyond the first few days if
they were sensitive. But in other cases you may continue an adult.
Q Governor Ridge, given the high profile
nature of all the people that have been targeted with these anthrax letters,
it is pretty reasonable to assume that someone in The White House would
have also been targeted. Can you tell us definitively that no one,
neither the President, Vice President or anybody else in the Executive
complex here has received a suspicious letter here or a tainted letter?
And do you know if the President and Vice President are taking Cipro?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I can tell you definitively that no one has been tested,
not necessarily tested, no one has the anthrax disease in The White House,
and I cannot tell you what Dr. Tubbs has -- I can't tell you what the
President and the Vice President's doctors have prescribed. I have no
Q Are the letters continuing to come or do you think that they will stop
GOVERNOR RIDGE: I wish I could tell you that we've seen the end of it,
but we obviously are preparing for more. That's why we have decided to
increase the supply of the antibiotics, and that is why we are pursuing
lead as aggressively as possible to see if perhaps we can apprehend those
that sent those earlier letters. So we have to proceed --
Q Governor Ridge, one of the bottlenecks
that is emerging in producing vaccines or antiviral agents to treat a
disease such as smallpox is the FDA regulations themselves. Will
you order the FDA to streamline or facilitate testing and production of
vaccines at this point?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: That is something that Secretary Thompson has been working
on quite vigorously now for a couple of weeks, and I am going to ask him
SECRETARY THOMPSON: We have already done that. We have had the FDA in
and we have negotiated with FDA. We have had FDA in. We have had the pharmaceutical
companies that want to produce it. We have sat down, ironed out all the
protocols, all the difficulties, and I can assure you that we are going
to be able to start manufacturing smallpox vaccine yet this year.
Q When will the first doses be rolling off the production lines do you
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Sometime in December of this year.
1:32 P.M. EDT