(AFP) – Dec 30, 2009
WASHINGTON — The US Post Office could play a key role in distributing medical aid in the event of a biological attack, according to an executive order released by the White House.
The order signed by President Barack Obama directs government agencies, local law enforcement and the US Post Office to work on a model for distribution of medical countermeasures in the wake of a biological attack.
"This policy would seek to: (1) mitigate illness and prevent death; (2) sustain critical infrastructure; and (3) complement and supplement State, local, territorial, and tribal government medical countermeasure distribution capacity," the order said.
"The US Postal Service has the capacity for rapid residential delivery of medical countermeasures for self administration across all communities in the United States," the order added.
The US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were instructed to work with the post office to develop a "dispensing model for US cities to respond to a large-scale biological attack, with anthrax as the primary threat consideration."
The order calls for the model to be drawn up within 180 days, but gives no details as to whether the idea of using the US postal system to assist Americans in the wake of a biological attack is a new one.
The United States has sought to bolster its capacity to respond to biological attacks since 2001, when anthrax-laced letters mailed to people across the United States led to five deaths.
The order came amid heightened security concerns here following an attempt to bring down a US-bound jetliner on Christmas Day. A 23-year-old Nigerian has been charged in the case.
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