State Applies For $34 Million In Federal Bioterrorism Money

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state on Monday applied for more than $34 million in federal money to help Ohio prepare for bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

Much of the money goes to help local health boards, hospitals and other groups plan for the possibility of a bioterrorist attack and other health emergencies.

"Just like politics, all disasters are local as well," said Steve Wagner, the Department of Health's chief of environmental health and the coordinator of Ohio's bioterrorism grant.

The federal government announced in February that states and cities are getting more than $1 billion in federal money to help their health officials prepare for bioterrorism, as well as less exotic epidemics or disasters.

Although Ohio must submit a grant application, the state is guaranteed to receive the money, said Health Department Director Nick Baird.

Of the $34 million, about $14 million goes directly to local agencies and hospitals. Another $14.1 million is a combination of local, regional and state funding.

Ohio plans to use the money for planning, surveillance, education and training.

For example, the department will use about $235,000 to develop a stockpile of drugs including antidotes for nerve gas, antibiotics and other medications.

The department will also use about $3 million to expand its electronic database of diseases as an early warning system against outbreaks.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)