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Workers Taking Extra Precautions When Opening, Sorting Mail

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Members of the media and a member of Congress have been affected by anthrax incidents, but what is being done to protect our state's lawmakers?

The General Assembly's mailroom said it gets and now screens about 1,000 pieces of mail every day. People in lawmakers' offices are also being urged to follow the U.S. Postal Service guidelines for handling suspicious mail.

Legislative assistant Ann Faust said she does not fear anthrax because the General Assembly mailroom screens every envelope and package that comes in the building.

"I know the people that handle the mail and I don't think they want anything to happen to themselves. I don't think they want anything to happen to me," she said.

Legislative assistant Joan Leatherman, who has been with the legislature for 35 years, expressed a little more concern.

"I'm not paranoid about it or anything like that. I'm just a little more aware of where things come from," she said.

The General Assembly mailroom will not explain how it is screening the letters and packages. A spokesman from the Senate president's office said lawmakers will soon re-examine security measures at the General Assembly, including those related to the mail.

Private shipping companies are also taking extra precautions when sorting mail and packages.

At Mailbox Packaging and Shipping in Cumberland County, workers are handling all incoming packages with rubber gloves and are using anti-bacterial lotion. They are also checking for misspelled names, extra postage and suspicious-looking packages.

Owner Alberta Murphy said although she is not concerned about the threat of anthrax, it is best to be safe rather than sorry.

"Anytime anything like this happens, you will take any precautions. It's necessary," she said.

Cumberland County health officials and other agencies are working on a press release, warning the public about concerns related to anthrax.


Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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