Governor, HHS Secretary Announce Approval of Bioterror Plan

Clears Way for More Aid - State Issues Bioterror Response Cards to Doctors, Hospitals

Albany, June 6, 2002 – Governor George E. Pataki today joined Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson in announcing that New York State's bioterrorism response plan has been approved by the federal government, paving the way for the full distribution of $60 million in federal funding.

The Governor also announced that, as part of a comprehensive training and education plan for first responders, New York is distributing bioterror response information cards to each of the more than 70,000 physicians across New York State.

"Nothing is more important than ensuring the health, safety and security of our citizens across this great nation," Governor Pataki said. "Thanks to the efforts of President Bush and Secretary Thompson, New York is being given the resources we need to protect our citizens from the unprecedented threats we face in these challenging times.

"Our new rapid response cards will provide physicians on the front lines in the battle against bioterrorism with the information they need to quickly identify potential symptoms related to a biological or chemical illness," the Governor said. "Arming doctors with these easy-to-use cards is just one more way we're working to protect the health and safety of families throughout New York."

HHS Secretary Thompson said, "It is impressive how quickly New York and New York City were able to put together these plans. It shows how serious Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg are taking the need for preparedness and their dedication to getting the job done. Now that we have good plans, we need to get on with building. There's more work to do. We will continue to work with states on implementing their plans and strengthening areas of their plans that need more work."

The bioterrorism rapid response card highlights 12 diseases, including smallpox, anthrax, plague, botulism, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fever, that are caused by organisms considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be the most likely bioterrorist weapons. Since these diseases are rare and may be unfamiliar to many doctors, the card was designed to provide easily accessible information on the diseases' symptoms, tests used for diagnosis, and treatment.

The card also instructs physicians to be alert for clues that may suggest a bioterrorism event, such as a sudden increase in the number of people seeking care, especially patients with fever, respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms. Physicians are instructed to immediately report any unusual illnesses to their local health department.

Physicians have a critical role in the early recognition and immediate reporting of illnesses that may represent a bioterrorist event. Prompt reporting of cases of communicable disease also allow public health agencies at the local, State and federal levels to identify newly emerging infectious diseases, detect naturally occurring disease outbreaks, prevent secondary transmission and evaluate the effectiveness of control measures. Physicians, healthcare facilities, laboratories, and local and State health departments all share the responsibility for reporting, follow-up, and control of communicable diseases.

The approval and subsequent funding announced today was awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA). The State and New York City will receive the remaining 80 percent of approximately $34 million in federal funding for the State, and 80 percent of more than $26 million in total funding for the City to support their efforts to prepare for, and respond to, potential bioterrorist attacks. Previously, the state and city had received 20 percent of their total federal allocations.

Federal Funding to Support State and Local Readiness Activities

The federal funds will support bioterrism preparedness planning and readiness; 24/7 communicable disease surveillance for illnesses linked to potential bioterrorism agents; increased capacity for laboratories that test for biological and chemical agents; enhancement of the Health Alert network and information technology among health departments statewide; public information campaigns targeted at general audiences and special populations; and professional education to assist health care providers, agencies and facilities to quickly recognize and respond to bioterrorism.

The State's share of the federal funding will be provided to; State agencies to expand lab capacities, improve communication infrastructure and support training and readiness activities; county governments to support their preparations; and, health care institutions and organizations to develop medical volunteer databases and training programs.

Among the specific initiatives the federal funding will support are:

  • Development of bioterrorism preparedness and response plans at the State and local level to ensure efficient, effective and timely intervention in response to a bioterrorism event;
  • Periodic regional testing of preparedness/response plans to include State, federal and local health agencies, health care providers and other involved parties;
  • Enhancement of disease surveillance and investigation, so officials can quickly identify unusual patterns of illness that might be the result of biological or chemical terrorism;
  • Development and implementation of a program to increase access to rapid and effective laboratory services in response to bioterrorism, other infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats or emergencies;
  • Ramping up communications/information technology infrastructure among various segments of the public health community, health care providers and others to expedite sharing of data that could help identify a bioterrorism event, and to improve provision of emergency health information to the public;
  • Training the health care workforce to become familiar with agents that could be used in bioterrorism and the best ways to treat patients and limit disease transmission;
  • Increasing the capacity of the health community, including local health units, hospitals, health care providers, professional organizations and other partners, to respond to a terrorism-related health emergency; and
  • Preparing the health community to work more effectively with other emergency responders.

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., said, "The State Health Department will work hand in hand with local health departments to protect public health and save lives. Local health preparedness is crucial to our overall ability to identify bioterrorism and respond quickly and effectively should our State once again come under attack."

Each of New York's counties will receive funding, based upon their population, to expand their bioterrorism fighting capacity. Following are counties and the amount of their awards:

County Award Amount
Hamilton $75,000
Schuyler $75,000
Yates $75,000
Lewis $75,000
Schoharie $75,000
Seneca $75,000
Essex $75,000
Wyoming $75,000
Orleans $75,000
Delaware $75,000
Greene $75,000
Cortland $75,000
Montgomery $75,000
Allegany $75,000
Franklin $85,000
Chenango $85,000
Tioga $85,000
Fulton $85,000
Genesee $85,000
Washington $85,000
Otsego $85,000
Columbia $85,000
Warren $85,000
Livingston $85,000
Herkimer $85,000
Madison $85,000
Sullivan $88,966
Clinton $94,894
Cayuga $96,963
Cattaraugus $98,955
Chemung $106,070
Wayne $108,765
Putnam $110,745
Tompkins $111,501
Steuben $113,726
Ontario $115,224
Jefferson $126,738
St. Lawrence $126,931
Oswego $137,377
Chautauqua $154,750
Schenectady $161,555
Rensselaer $167,538
Ulster $192,749
Broome $200,536
Saratoga $200,635
Niagara $219,846
Oneida $235,469
Dutchess $280,150
Rockland $286,753
Albany $294,565
Orange $341,367
Onondaga $458,336
Monroe $735,343
Westchester $923,459
Erie $950,265
Nassau $1,334,544
Suffolk $1,419,369
Subtotal $12,064,084
NYSACHO (New York State Assn. of County Health Officers) $435,916
Total $12,500,000

Each hospital outside of New York City will also receive $10,000 to assist in their bioterrorism preparedness efforts. New York City hospitals will receive funding from the federal allocation to the city. These funds can be used for staff training and education, equipment purchases or to support other bioterrorism preparedness related activities.

Six to eight regional referral centers will also be established (via a competitive process) with each center receiving between $150,000 to $250,000. An additional $200,000 will be given to the Iroquois Healthcare Alliance to create new rural bioterrorism preparedness demonstration projects.

In addition to county governments and hospitals, several New York State health care organizations will also receive funding to bolster the State's anti-terrorism efforts; including:

Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) / $875,000: Establish and maintain up-to-date database of doctors throughout New York State (including New York City) that provides contact information, specialty and board certification by regional area, and formalize a network of trained volunteer doctors who could participate in a community-wide response to a public health emergency.

NYS Nurses Association / $100,000: Formalize network of trained volunteer nurses who could participate in community wide response to a public health emergency.

Healthcare Association of NYS (HANYS) / $75,000: Hire Bioterrorism coordinator to work with the New York State Department of Health on a range of bioterrorism issues including training and host regional meetings of hospitals, local health departments, and other emergency personnel as appropriate in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health.

Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) / $ 75,000: Develop specific training resources as per GNYHA's training plan and make resources available on DOH Web site and accessible to other organizations throughout New York State and promote physician and nurse volunteer networks to member organizations.

Community Health Center Association of NYS / $50,000: Develop and deliver specific emergency preparedness training relevant to member organizations and promote other training resources to members.

Home Care Association / $100,000: Develop training education workbook and develop and deliver "train the trainer" modules to agency personnel who will train others, and promote physician and nurse volunteer networks to member organizations.

Public Health Association of New York State / $50,000: Develop and promote use of marketing materials, website and an electronic bulletin board to promote statewide training courses, resources, etc, and to promote public health preparedness messages to the general public.

Dental Society of the State of New York / $25,000: Develop specific training resources and make resources available on the Department of Health website and also make them accessible to other organizations throughout New York State.