Anthrax-free

Mail and the shock of assurance<

News item: "Nov. 21: the Portland Mail Processing and Distribution Center and the Mt. Hood Detached Distribution Center both tested negative for anthrax." -- Kevin Branson, Hood River Postmaster.

There have been no cases of anthrax in the U.S. mail system in Oregon and Washington, and the distribution centers serving the Columbia Gorge are now officially anthrax-free. Final test results came through Nov. 21 from the Oregon Department of Health, Branson reported.

"This is reassuring news for all our postal employees and our many loyal customers," Branson wrote. The news came as a mixture of shock and reassurance. Anthrax inspection and testing had been done in a quiet manner, and it was common knowledge that no cases of the bacteria had been found anywhere West of the Mississippi, not just the Pacific Northwest. Official postcards -- warning us to minimally handle unidentifiable, lumpy, odd-looking mail -- came and went. It seems like everyone had settled into a comfortable mode somewhere between alert and complacent. Then, suddenly, we are told "don't worry, no anthrax."

There is no doubt of Anthrax' danger, given the deaths in the East Coast. But maybe this slight jolt from our local postmaster will help put behind us such artificial anxieties as Mysterious White Powders, Hoarding Cipro, and Nasal Swabs.

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