Epstein helps to prevent anthrax panic

BOCA RATON, FL: A Saturday-morning phone call set off a frenzied

week of activity at Barry R. Epstein Associates Public Relations (BEA)

after a client mailing was reported to contain anthrax.



Argentinean recipients first suspected the mailing from Ramada Plaza

Resorts contained anthrax simply because it originated in the US.

Envelopes were eventually found to have miniscule traces of an anthrax

strain that does not cause illness. Since anthrax was found only outside

the envelopes, investigators said they may have come into contact with

bacteria on their postal journey - at a sorting facility, for

example.



Barry Epstein, president and CEO of BEA, said that when the first AP

story hit, not even the FBI, US postal inspectors, or the Centers for

Disease Control knew about the scare. Because there was not yet hard

evidence one way or another, Epstein said his first release, a response

statement, compared his client of three months to other victims of

anthrax misdeeds.



"If the allegation is true," the release read, "we are appalled that we

are another victim, like American Media, Newsweek, the New York Post,

the three television networks, and even the Capitol, of a dastardly act

involving the post office once again."



Once the scare was explained and the media attention withered, Epstein

had praise for a local newspaper, Florida's Sun-Sentinel, which he said

did not mention the Ramada by name in order to prevent local panic.



Epstein's final release quoted FBI spokesperson Judy Orihuega calling

reports of anthrax in Plaza Resorts brochures completely false. The

release also quoted James Verillo, president of Plaza Resorts, as saying

the media haste to cover the situation was a travesty, which caused the

public to panic and a company to unduly suffer.



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