Case #1692.0

Charting a Course in a Storm: US Postal Service and the Anthrax Crisis

Publication Date: May 01, 2003
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On October 21, 2001, a postal worker from a mail sorting facility in Washington, DC, died of inhalation anthrax--a disease virtually unseen for a century. The next day, a second employee from the same facility died. Fear of anthrax had already infected the public: media workers in Florida and New York City had contracted the disease. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) had received an anthrax-laden letter, his staff were all on antibiotics, and the Senate and House of Representatives buildings had closed for anthrax tests. This new threat re-ignited a sense of public panic. Virtually overnight, the United States Postal Service (USPS) found itself at the eye of a national security and public health storm.

Learning Objective:
This case discusses crisis management and how a large organization (USPS) dealt with the anthrax crisis while under the public eye. This is good for students interested in crisis management, law enforcement, and disaster preparedness.

Other Details

Case Author:
Kirsten Lundberg
Faculty Lead:
Arnold Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Volpe National Systems Center, U.S. Department of Transportation; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation