Minnesota mail carrier to test anthrax antibiotic delivery program

Mail carriers in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, will deliver empty pill bottles to approximately 35,000 homes on May 6 to test a program that would deliver antibiotics in the event of an anthrax attack.

U.S. Postal Service carriers will make the Sunday deliveries to four zip codes, one in the Minneapolis suburbs, one in Minneapolis and two in St. Paul. Operation Medicine Delivery will see how fast postal teams can deliver medicine to homes in case of an emergency, CIDRAP News reports.

"People will get an empty bottle, similar to what would be used in the real thing," Peter Nowacki, a Minneapolis USPS spokesman, said, according to CIDRAP News. "There'll be an information sheet explaining what it's all about, that it's just a test to see how well it works. It'll have links and phone numbers for more information."

The Twin Cities area is one of at least five large cities in the U.S. planning federally funded programs to use the USPS to respond to bioterrorist attacks. The other areas include Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and Louisville, Kentucky. While Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle have run limited exercises, the Minnesota test will use a fully developed team of trained volunteers.

"This is the first metro area in the country to recruit a full complement of postal volunteers for this program, and set up a fully developed postal delivery system," the Minnesota Department of Health, said, according to CIDRAP News.

If a real emergency were to occur, postal delivery would not be used for all residents of the Twin Cities, but as a way to relieve pressure from the medication centers in densely populated parts of the area.