Hawaii tests cleanThere's no anthrax contamination at Hawaii's U.S. Postal Service processing center.
The Postal Service tested over
260 mail processing centers
Queen's Hospital to get decontamination facility
By Diana Leone
There was no anthrax in the 377 suspicious samples tested by the state Health Department so far.
In short, there's no anthrax in Hawaii, officials from the Health Department and Postal Service said yesterday.
Health Director Bruce Anderson and U.S. Postal Inspector Kathryn Derwey said at a joint news conference yesterday that this bodes well for the future.
They noted that a new procedure that's been in place to screen 911 calls regarding suspicious substances for the past 10 days seems to be helping the public put the risk from anthrax in the mail into perspective.
As the Star-Bulletin first reported a week ago, when a 911 caller feels suspicious about a piece of mail, yet the piece has no signs of powder or leakage, 911 dispatchers are now directing the caller to a postal inspector, who talks on the phone with the caller about the mail.
Anderson and Derwey emphasized that if there is reasonable suspicion that an item should be checked out, hazardous materials teams still will take the piece for testing.
They noted, however, that nothing taken for testing can be returned and that people are still responsible for the contents, if it's a bill or some item requiring action.
"The Postal Service, as a precautionary measure, tested over 260 mail processing centers, including the one in Honolulu to confirm that there was no cross contamination from the letters processed to NBC's Tom Brokaw, the New York Post and Sen. Daschle," said Postal Service District Manager Edward Broglio.
Anderson also said that if any item sent for testing ever tests positive, the people affected will be contacted immediately and the proper treatment begun at once.
He said people will not be contacted when items test negative, but people can check with the city Emergency Operating Center at 523-4121 to confirm results.
Queen's Medical Center and the City and County of Honolulu are working together to build a permanent decontamination facility at the hospital's emergency room parking deck.
Queens Hospital to get
By Rosemarie Bernardo
Chief of security Gary Dias said a temporary open-tent structure is capable of decontaminating 12 to 15 people every 40 minutes.
But it's not enough.
"We need to be capable of decontaminating much more," said Dias.
The 726-square-foot permanent structure would be able to decontaminate 180 to 200 people an hour. It would be an enclosed structure with 12 shower heads and storage room for decontamination suits, equipment and standby air canisters.
Susan Orr, manager of Queen's Emergency and Trauma Services, said, "We never dreamed that we would be tested to the limits that we have been since the Sept. 11 incident. Clearly, we've been having more instances of people being worried that they've been exposed to anthrax or other substances."
The facility will be used to respond to any contaminant within the guidelines of the Hazardous Materials Unit, such as pepper spray, gasoline and anthrax, Orr added.
The facility is expected to be completed in three to six months.