Counties banding together to show level of readiness

WASHINGTON: The National Association of Counties (NACo) is

harnessing the results of a new public health study to raise

Congressional funding for the group's six-point plan to prepare the

country against biological and chemical attacks.



NACo released the results of the study and the six-point plan at a

National Press Club meeting today. The group has targeted the 50 largest

newspapers in the country for attendance. The meeting will also run on

C-Span.



The results of the plan include statistics on how equipped counties are

to deal with issues of quarantine, and chemical and biological

terrorism.



"Drawing attention to NACo is challenging because counties are usually

in the background, and people don't notice them until there's a big

mistake," said NACo media relations manager Tiffany Ricci. "Everyone can

name a mayor, but hardly anyone knows the people at the county level,

who are in charge of securing the country."



To create a buzz around the press event, the president of NACo met with

President Bush and Homeland Security director Tom Ridge, three days

before the unveiling of the study.



NACo has also held meetings with The Washington Post and Time

magazine.



The organization will target the newspapers of congressional

representatives who will be instrumental in passing legislation to enact

NACo's plan.



"Our two main plans are to educate the press on what we do, and promote

Congress, the senate, and the President to act," said Ricci.



NACo's design to shore up the threat of bioterrorism calls for Congress

to rebuild the public health system, give Tom Ridge budget authority,

establish a homeland security fund, and approve a homeland security

block grant that would make sure money earmarked for such initiatives

wouldn't be snagged by local city governments.



NACo has also mailed a sample of an op-ed letter to its members to

encourage them to write to their local newspapers.



There are over 3,000 counties in the US. They are responsible for public

transportation, health departments, and police and fire departments.



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