‘NY Times’ Gets Powdery Letter

By: Jim Fitzgerald, Associated Press Writer

(AP) On Tuesday, investigators were summoned to The New York Times after a mailroom employee opened a letter containing a white, powdery substance, said Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. The envelope — postmarked Glasgow, Scotland — was sent with no department or individual at the paper specified, and had no return address, she said.

Mathis said the employee who opened the letter and another worker who was in the mailroom at the time would be tested for exposure to anthrax. The mailroom would remained closed until those tests results and one on the letter come back, she said.

On Monday, Gov. George Pataki and his Manhattan staff returned to their offices. The offices had been evacuated Wednesday after a substance suspected of being anthrax was found and initially tested positive. Experts later collected 140 other samples, all of which tested negative, said John Signor, a spokesman for the state Department of Health.

“The building is safe. We’re back in the office, and that’s the way it should be,” Pataki said Monday.

A culture of the sample that tested positive was still being observed, Signor said.

Pataki suggested anthrax spores might have been tracked in by state police who had accompanied him to anthrax investigations elsewhere. The governor, who was not tested for anthrax, was given the antibiotic Cipro as a precaution. He said Monday that he was no longer taking the drug.

The number of anthrax cases in New York remained at four, with one case each — all the less serious skin anthrax form — linked to NBC, CBS, ABC and the New York Post. Anthrax-contaminated letters were found at NBC and the Post.

Several other news outlets have been tested. The Associated Press announced Monday that samples taken from its Rockefeller Center mailroom were conclusively found to be negative for anthrax. The AP said it had been told no further testing was necessary.

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