Thursday, October 18, 2001

Doctor's plea: common sense


Health official says scare leads to 'stupid things'

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Health Commissioner Dr. Rice Leach said the burden on law-enforcement and emergency officials would ease if people would use more common sense in dealing with suspicious materials.

        “We've had some plumb stupid things happen around our commonwealth,” Dr. Leach told the interim Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.

        While well-intentioned in most instances, Dr. Leach said, the flood of calls warning about suspicious letters, powder and people are straining the response systems.

        Not one of the dozens of reports of suspicious materials has turned up a positive test for anthrax or any other hazardous material, Dr. Leach said.

        “The biggest public problem at this time is the fear and anxiety associated with the presence of an unknown threat. People are just plain scared,” Dr. Leach said.

        The fear has manifested itself in calls to law-enforcement and health officials on some otherwise ridiculous items.

        Dr. Leach repeated his advice that if a letter or package is unknown and unexpected, throw it away.

        “If you burn anthrax, it's gone. If you bag it, it's back in its natural environment,” Dr. Leach said. Otherwise, if really concerned, call the authorities. If it spills, cleaning with a diluted bleach solution kills any potential contaminants.

        The state laboratory has enlisted the aid of laboratories at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville to test suspicious items.

        State government installed new mail- and package-handling procedures on Monday after a suspicious letter addressed to U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., wound up at the Capitol Annex. The letter was tested and proved negative for any hazardous material.

        Administration Commissioner Don Speer said mailroom employees have been gloved and the state is obtaining filter masks for mail handlers at the central postal areas and for those who work in agency mailrooms.

        Elsewhere in Kentucky:

        • The Helms-Craven library, the main library at Western Kentucky University, was closed Wednesday afternoon while a hazardous-materials team from the Bowling Green Fire Department checked the building following a report of a suspicious envelope, which tested negative for anthrax.

        • Twelve employees were decontaminated Tuesday and sent to the emergency room for treatment after a suspicious package arrived at J.L. French, a tool-and-die manufacturer in Glasgow. None of the employees exhibited symptoms of any type. The substance found is undergoing tests.

       



Bioterror gets personal
DNA expert joins UC genetics program
New ideas shape high schools
Trophy or not, Galaxy nominees all winners
Golden Galaxy 2001 Winners
Council delays vote on housing
County unit hires director
Fuller touts inexperience
Mediator offers Mason proposal
Meeting studies college diversity
Muslim stamp tangled in politics
Tristate A.M. Report
Whites take turn in forum
HOWARD: Some Good News
PULFER: Gum, garlic?
College chasing after diversity
Goshen schools fight repeal bid
Hamilton police getting new weapon
Miami talks a slice of past
Three of 4 candidates for levy
Troupe heads to big parade
Caseworker killed on home visit
Drug-zone law fails court test
Ohio House votes to pay withheld child support
Boone Co. firms turn in letters
Company faulted in sludge spill
- Doctor's plea: common sense
Firefighters join to hold benefit
Kentucky News Briefs
Ky. researchers share $3.8M in grants
'Megan's Law' attacked as excessive
Skate park gaining support