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Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I will use this time for just a couple of minutes to provide a brief update on our circumstances involving the buildings here in the Capitol complex and the situation involving the anthrax experience we have all been attempting to work through.
I had hoped before the end of the week to give our colleagues a briefing. There have been meetings ongoing as late as this afternoon. But I believed it was important for those who couldn't come to the meetings to share at least some of the information we have available to us.
It has been 10 days now since the letter containing anthrax was opened in my office in the Hart Building. We now have the final results on all the nasal swabs collected by the attending physician's office. Of the more than 6,000 swabs, 28 were positive for exposure. All 28 of the people whose nasal swabs were positive were on the fifth and sixth floors of the Hart Building's southeast quadrant last Monday. All are being treated with antibiotics. I am happy to say that all currently are healthy.
In all, more than 400 people who worked in or passed through the fifth or sixth floor of the Hart Building's southeast quadrant last Monday are being treated with a full 60-day course of antibiotics.
I know I speak for all of us on Capitol Hill when I say how deeply saddened we are by the deaths this week of the two postal workers from the Brentwood mail facility. We are also concerned about the two other employees from the Brentwood facility who are currently hospitalized and fighting anthrax infections.
On behalf of the entire Senate, I say that our thoughts and prayers are with them, their families, and all of the men and women of the U.S. Postal Service. They are dedicated public servants and they, like the Capitol Police and Senate employees exposed to anthrax, are innocent victims.
As for the buildings, the Capitol itself has been open all week for official business. After virtually around-the-clock environmental testing, a number of other buildings in the Capitol complex have begun reopening.
The Russell Senate Office Building reopened yesterday. The Rayburn and Cannon House Office Buildings reopened today. Also open today are the Senate day care center, Webster Hall, the Senate page dorm, and the Postal Square where Senate offices have been given temporary work spaces. The mailroom in the Dirksen Senate Office Building where a trace of anthrax was discovered last week is being remediated today. Pending the results of environmental tests, it is my expectation that the Dirksen Office Building will be reopened tomorrow.
We have also learned that evidence of anthrax was found on the air-conditioning filter on the ninth floor of the Hart Building and the stairwell leading from the eighth to the ninth floor. The experts say this is neither a surprise nor a concern. Environmental testing and nasal swabs of this section of the Hart Building show no further exposure beyond what we already know.
In addition, late last night we learned that the environmental tests in the freight elevator in the southwest quadrant of the Hart Senate Office Building tested positive. Based on this finding, the attending physician now recommends that anyone who rode in that freight elevator on October 11, the probable date the letter was delivered to my office, or later, be treated with a 60-day course of antibiotics. Anyone
who rode on the southwest Hart freight elevator should see the attending physician.
The Hart Building will reopen as it is completely safe. The reopening has been the subject of a good deal of discussion with all of our teams of consultants in and out of the Government. We are looking at the most appropriate way with which to remediate the Hart Building. Some have suggested we remediate the area before any of it is open. If that is possible, that will be our plan.
If it is determined that it is not possible to remediate it in the not-too-distant future, within the next several days, we may have to remediate it in stages and open up the Hart Building in stages.
First, though, before any part of the building reopens, environmental specialists will examine the nine floors in the southeast quadrant and the area near the southwest freight elevator where anthrax was detected. The exact footprint of the southwest quadrant to be examined is still being determined by both scientific and medical specialists.
This anthrax assault has forced a number of temporary changes in the way we work on Capitol Hill. On Monday and Tuesday, all 100 Senators worked out of the Capitol Building. It may be the first time Senators shared such close quarters since the Russell Office Building opened in 1909. While the accommodations were a little cramped, the spirit of determination and cooperation in the Capitol this week has certainly been admirable.
This incident has also forced another temporary change on the Hill. Every week more than 250,000 pieces of mail are sent to the U.S. Senate alone. The mail Senators receive is an important lifeline. It is how our constituents tell us what is on their minds and how they communicate when they need help.
Since last Monday, when the U.S. Postal Service halted delivery to the Capitol, mail for Senators has been piling up in a regional postal facility. It will continue to be held there until we are absolutely certain it poses no risk to anybody, and it will be remediated as well. The postal workers who handle it and the staffers who open it will all be protected.
The Senate Sergeant at Arms is working closely with the Postal Service and with medical and environmental experts to establish procedures for safe mail handling and delivery.
This has been a difficult week--not only for my staff and others here on Capitol Hill but for our Nation's postal workers and for many Americans. My staff and I are grateful for the outpouring of concern and support we continue to receive from all over the country.
I thank the many experts who continue to work virtually around the clock--the Federal Government, the military, the District of Columbia and, of course, our colleagues and staff here in the Senate. The challenge facing these people, in particular, is unprecedented in American history. To a person, they have responded admirably and enabled the Senate to move ahead with the legislative business of our Nation. I am grateful to each one of them, and I thank them for their effort.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
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