Bioterrorism preparedness
Bioterrorism is terrorism that involves the deliberate release of biological pathogens including bacteria, viruses, toxins or other harmful agents used to cause illness or death. After 9/11 and the mailing of anthrax-laced letters to our political leaders soon afterward, we developed the Biowatch Program to help detect airborne pathogens. Biowatch consists of more than 30 monitoring stations located in our largest cities that continually collect and filter air samples. It is said these filters are analyzed for pathogens once each day. However, Biowatch has been prone to false alarms and is not sensitive enough to detect small releases of pathogens. Depending on wind conditions, it is conceivable a bioterrorist attack could occur in one of these protected cities and not be detected by Biowatch. Pathogens released indoors or in subways would also likely go undetected. Researchers are currently developing more sophisticated detectors capable of analyzing air and water samples in real time but these devices are not yet ready for production. Until then, we must depend on the Biowatch system, which does not provide coverage to all places and for all people. Health experts say the initial symptoms of those exposed to most pathogens are often similar to symptoms of common ailments such as the flu. For this reason, health services may not be able to confirm the existence of a bioterror attack until many victims have been infected. Health advocates warn that our shortage of hospital beds and emergency room services will greatly impede our ability to respond to an attack or a disaster which results in mass casualties. Currently, even a heavy flu season considerably taxes these facilities.

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Poll Opening Date
March 26, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 1, 2020

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