Representatives from each of Iowa’s 99 counties are in Johnston, deciding how to use five-and-a-half million dollars in federal money to prepare for and combat a bioterrorist attack.Iowa Department of Public Health director Stephen Gleason says unlike officials in other states, he’s decided against dictating how that money should be spent, and is letting local officials have a say. That’s why county officials are debating what sort of system should be set up to detect, respond to and contain a biological attack.Governor Tom Vilsack urged the delegates at the “Iowa Public Health Congress” to devise a system that could respond not only to bioterrorist attacks, but also to other public health threats. Vilsack says, for example, an “epidemic” response system could be activated in a severe flu season. Vilsack says emergency officials are faced with a whole new set of issues in the wake of September 11th.Gleason says it’s not a “touchy-feely” session. He’s asking the county officials to make decisions on how they’re going to work together.
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