Executive order calls for strong response against biological attack

President Barack Obama's December 30 executive order to prepare the nation against biological attacks - specifically anthrax attacks - calls for the development of a federal rapid response involving medical countermeasures to bioattacks.

The order's Section 3 delineates the requirements for the Federal Rapid Response, noting that the capacity to anticipate and immediately supplement of the capabilities of affected jurisdictions to rapidly distribute medical countermeasures after an attack must be developed.

The Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, are given 90 days by the order to develop a concept of operations and establish requirements for the Federal rapid response.

The executive order also calls for mechanisms to be established for the provision of medical countermeasures to personnel who perform mission essential functions, allowing continuity of operations following a biological attack.

To ensure continuity of operations, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security are given 180 days from the date of the order to develop a plan for the provision of medical countermeasures to ensure that the executive branch's departments and agencies can continue performing mission essential functions following a large-scale biological attack.

The order is most notable for its' provision that calls for the United States postal Service to carry the responsibility for the rapid residential delivery of medical countermeasures for self administration in the event of a biological attack.