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White Powder in Georgia: Responding to Cases of Suspected Anthrax After 9/11

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  • Product Description

    Abstract:
    In October, 2001, a series of anthrax--laced letters resulted in deaths in Florida, New York and Connecticut, in an act of apparent domestic terrorism. As a result, public health authorities throughout the United States were inundated with hundreds of reports, claiming suspicious white powders had been found in the mail or public places. Although authorities believed that, in all likelihood, the overwhelming majority of these cases were hoaxes or panicked responses, it was difficult to rule out foul play without further investigation. Responding to every claim, however, threatened to overwhelm the limited capacity of public health laboratories--an outcome that would have the same effect as ignoring the report all together. This case details how Georgia authorities developed operational protocols to manage thousands of reports, and track their responses. Specifically, it describes how law enforcement and public health officials coordinated their responses, and prioritized calls. Ultimately, Georgia officials did not find anthrax bacteria in the course of their investigations. What remained, however, was a system that officials hoped could be called upon in the future. This case draws on interviews with public health, police, fire and civil defense officials in Georgia.

    Learning Objective:
    This case details how Georgia authorities developed operational protocols to manage thousands of reports, and track their responses. Specifically, it describes how law enforcement and public health officials coordinated their responses, and prioritized calls. Ultimately, Georgia officials did not find anthrax bacteria in the course of their investigations. What remained, however, was a system that officials hoped could be called upon in the future. This case draws on interviews with public health, police, fire and civil defense officials in Georgia.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 2003
    HKS Case Number: 1715.0
    Case Author: Daniel Collings
    Faculty Lead: Arnold Howitt
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 29
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: R.W. Johnson Foundation, Volpe National Transportation Systems Ctr., US Department of Transportation
    _pages: 25+
    _geography: US & Canada
  • Warranty Information

    /review/1715.0.EducatorCopy.pdf

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