RealNews

Aid to fight bioterrorism goes unspent

Report says Mass. lags; lack of planning blamed. More than a year and a half after the federal government gave Massachusetts $21.8 million to prepare for a bioterrorism attack, the Commonwealth has no plans for spending nearly half the money, ranking dead last among 47 states that responded to a survey by a nonpartisan national health group. “The state has not taken effective advantage of federal resources to improve the public health infrastructure,” said Geoffrey Wilkinson, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “My sense is that we’re not less at risk now than we were before.” The bulk of the federal bioterrorism money is meant to prepare public health officials to track and respond to outbreaks of disease caused by a terrorist attack from agents such as smallpox or anthrax. The funds can be used for small but crucial improvements such as fax lines and Internet connections for local public health offices, or larger projects at the state level such as beefed-up epidemiology staffs and laboratory security. Full Story

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