DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Tom Vilsack said officials have pinpointed the location of anthrax at locations around Iowa and ordered security protections for those sites.
"These are precautionary measures and we are taking them to assure Iowans that we are sensitive about their concerns about safety," Vilsack said late Wednesday.
He said there was no connection between strains of anthrax located in Iowa and infections in Florida, but he wanted to ease concerns.
"There was no confirmation of any connection between Iowa and the activities in Florida," the governor said.
The governor declined to give details but said security would be provided by Iowa State Patrol troopers, the National Guard and local police.
"I don't want to go into the numbers and the location," the governor said. "What's important for Iowans to know is they are secure."
The governor summoned reporters to the Statehouse for a late-night news conference capping a long day of speculation. There have been three confirmed cases of exposure to anthrax in Florida, and some news reports have linked the strain to Iowa.
Vilsack said he spent the day in contact with the White House, FBI and other agencies looking into the outbreak, and state officials scrambled to locate places in the state where anthrax might be located.
Once those sites were located, Vilsack said he ordered heightened security at all to prevent any release. There was no evidence any had been released, the governor said.
"Security will be provided for an indefinite period of time," the governor said.
Vilsack said he had talked with top Republicans running the Legislature and said there was a united front on improving protection for any anthrax located in the state.
"I have visited with legislative leaders as well," the governor said. "I believe they support this effort."
Vilsack said there was no evidence of any theft or mishandling of any anthrax in Iowa, and no evidence that any was missing.
"Right now I'm pretty confident of the nature of the security," Vilsack said. "For the time being we have done what we need to do to make sure Iowans will not be endangered by any mishandling or inappropriate use."
Vilsack said the steps he announced Wednesday were a stopgap to clamp down on any anthrax, and long-term discussions would come down the road.
"I think there will be the need for additional discussions at some point in time what the future is, what the future security precautions will be necessary," Vilsack said. "I think it's important for Iowans to know we have taken action."