Sensible cautions

The ventures of life

go on even in a war

North Mississippi Medical Center's confirmation Monday that it is planning methodically and without panic for possible roles it could play in response to a terrorist attack provides a good institutional model for what all citizens individually should do.

The medical center - hub of North Mississippi Health Services' regional network - has examined its on-campus security, medical response to specific situations, and its interconnections with federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It continues functioning as a major regional medical center meeting the daily needs and emergencies of ordinary people.

Heightened awareness of possibilities increased this week when a second anthrax case was confirmed among the employees of a tabloid publishing company in Florida. The FBI entered the case to find the source of the infection that killed one person who was diagnosed after the disease had reached an advanced stage. The second person is being treated with antibiotics.

Institutions like the medical center offer instructive examples of stability and ordered local response to our national situation. The shock after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington understandably, temporarily displaced the predictable routine of some families and individuals. Most Americans now have had time to think carefully about sensible cautions melded with the routines and business of daily life.

Our nation's adversaries thrive on any disorder or fear controlling and diverting the way we behave and interact with one another. Our best defense is to subdue fear and get on with work, school, religious life, sporting and leisure activities - with confidence in ourselves, our institutions, and our governments.

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