Cipro for NYC mail workers

Oct. 24, 2001 at 3:17 AM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The antibiotic Cipro was promised Tuesday to 7,000 postal workers in New York City, New York's new director of public safety said all levels of law enforcement have to work together and a psychological trauma expert said many are self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.

"We take it seriously enough that local managers have decided to evacuate several buildings (because of suspected anthrax)," said Postal Inspector Peter Nash, noting that the Lenox Hill postal station was evacuated Tuesday for four hours after white powder was discovered in a piece of mail.

Antibiotics have been distributed to about 2,000 employees at the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center, one of two major mail-sorting facilities through which all mail entering Manhattan passes, according to William Smith, president of New York Metro Area Postal Union which represents New York's postal clerks, maintenance workers and drivers.

The union wants any mail facility that tests positive for anthrax closed.

Over the last eight or nine days, the inspector's office has received over 300 suspicious package calls and all have turned up negative although some results have not been received, according to Nash.

The New York Times closed its mailroom and notified investigators when it opened an envelope, postmarked in Glasgow, Scotland, containing white powder.

Two employees exposed to the material were tested for anthrax, but the tests results are not yet available, according to a Times spokesman.

James Kallstrom, the state's new director of public safety, told 300 local and state law enforcement officers in a meeting in Albany, N.Y., that police have to cooperate better in sharing information to avoid another terrorist attack.

"Sept. 11, changed everything, including the attitude of law enforcement," Kallstrom said, referring to the turf issues and the sometimes lack of information sharing among different levels of police. "Our No. 1 priority is not to have another attack."

Kallstrom, the former head of the FBI's New York City office who is now in charge of security of New York's landmarks, airports, nuclear plants and water supplies, said several red lights should have gone off before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center occurred.

"What if local police had looked at flight school students who wanted to learn to fly but not on how to take off or land?" said Kallstrom, noting that local and state police have the best information on what is happening in their communities.

The State Supreme Court in Manhattan, at the request of their families, declared 279 people dead that had been missing and believed dead in the World Trade Center when attacked.

Nancy Smyth, an expert in psychological trauma, including acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, said at the Statewide Conference of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., that some who experience the trauma of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be "self-medicating with alcohol and drugs."

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has introduced a new program called "Hope & Recovery" aimed at giving drug and alcohol service providers more information on how to treat people affected by fear, trauma and grief associated with the attacks.

While there wasn't widespread looting of stories in Manhattan following the Sept. 11 attacks, the alleged burglary of a jewelry store in Lower Manhattan made headlines -- but later an unemployed security guard was charged in the crime.

Johnny Dunham, 26, of the Bronx, who allegedly impersonated a rescue worker was charged with burglary, grand larceny, possession of stolen property and criminal impersonation for allegedly taking more than $1 million from the jewelry store Tourneau on Sept. 12 as well as emergency and law enforcement equipment. If convicted, Dunham could face up to seven years on the burglary and larceny charges.

New York's postage stamp, part of series planned for 2002 honoring each state, has been changed -- the New York City skyline that included the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center have been replaced with a more midtown Manhattan skyline.

The restricted area around the World Trade Center shrunk by a square block and all of Battery Park City has reopened.

According to city officials:

-- 4,339 confirmed missing by police

-- 478 confirmed dead

-- 425 bodies identified

(Reporting by Chanan Tigay in New York City and Alex Cukan, in Albany, N.Y.)

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