Rather won’t test for anthrax

CBS issues 'thorough cleanup' of affected and adjacent areas

Traces of anthrax have been found in Dan Rather’s office, but the “CBS Evening News” anchor has no plans to be tested for the disease.

“He feels the same way he did last week — that if symptoms develop, he’ll go get a test. In the meantime, it’s business as usual for him and his office,” a CBS News spokeswoman said.

Environmental samples were taken at the CBS Broadcast Center after an assistant to Rather tested positive for cutaneous anthrax late last week. CBS said that the results are only preliminary. So far there is no evidence of anthrax in the newsroom or anywhere else that was tested, only in Rather’s anteroom and office.

“The findings pose no danger to anyone and do not change the opinion of the CDC and NYC Health Department task force advising us that it is safe to continue working in all parts of the building,” CBS News prexy Andrew Heyward told staffers in an email.

Rather moves office

Heyward said that a “thorough cleanup” of the affected and adjacent areas will be done over the next couple of nights. Because of the cleaning agents that are used, Rather and his office staff will work elsewhere while the scrubbing is being done. Saying that it was “standard procedure,”

With new mail security procedures in effect, CBS employees won’t receive any letters or packages before they’ve been screened.

ABC News is still waiting for the completion of the environmental sample and nasal swab results that were taken after a 7-month-old son of an ABC News producer presumably contracted anthrax at the net’s Gotham headquarters. All the results that have come in so far have been negative.

Testimony postponed

Meanwhile, with Washington gripped by more anthrax attacks, Mouse House topper Michael Eisner won’t be traveling to the nation’s capital later this week to testify about the importance of copyright protection in the digital age.

The Senate Commerce Committee called off the hearing Monday, as health officials continued a sweep of all congressional offices for any more signs of anthrax contamination.

Along with Eisner, News Corp. chief operating officer Peter Chernin also was on the list of those expected to testify at Thursday’s hearing before Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), chair of the powerful commerce panel. The hearing was initially scheduled for mid-September, but was rescheduled for this week.

Just as business was returning to some semblance of normal for Hollywood lobbyists, came news that 31 congressional staffers had tested positive for anthrax exposure after being in the vicinity of an anthrax-laced letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

Postal workers affected

That was followed by word over the weekend that a D.C. postal worker working in a location that handles mail for Congress had come down with inhalation anthrax. Also, officials said anthrax spores were found in the mailroom for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Monday, the situation got more dire when it was announced that two other postal workers who died mysteriously in recent days may have been also suffering from anthrax poisoning.

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