Financial woes won't deter USPS from delivering medical countermeasures

United States Postal Service officials recently stated that the service’s financial woes and cutbacks will have no effect on its capacity to deliver medical countermeasures in the case of a bioterror attack.

It is feared that cutbacks of 110,000 in the USPS workforce over the last four years and the closing of thousands of local offices could limit its ability to distribute life-saving antibiotics in an emergency, according to

Jude Plessas, a countermeasures distribution and delivery manager, disagrees.

“When it comes to delivery, we’re required to provide universal service and delivery to every address," Plessas said, reports. "If there’s a consolidation in a particular city, that doesn’t affect the way deliveries are taken care of.

“Typically with post office closure, you’re dealing with retail and the interface with the public at the counter. That’s not what the postal model relies on. Our reliance is actually on the residential delivery of these medications. As long as universal service remains our mandate, we won’t see that affect our reach as far as delivery is concerned.”

Despite the bleak prognosis for the USPS, the Cities Ready Initiative, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control program used to help the service and large cities prepare an antibiotics distribution chain, appears to be moving forward steadily.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area already has a plan in place to respond to 20 zip codes, and Louisville recently developed a similar plan. The USPS is currently planning a volunteer force to cover 23 additional zip codes in Kentucky and hopes to soon be operational in San Diego, Philadelphia and Boston.

“The model can be applied anywhere, but right now we’re going where we have the grant money to go," Plessas said, reports. "It’s a bottom up approach. We want to integrate our response with local and state public health response so it supplements what they already have in the can.

“This program’s continued existence depends on continued funding. So as long as we continue to see funding we’ll be able to maintain our presence in cities where it’s been deployed and hopefully expand out."