NEW YORK — Bioterrorism preparedness plans submitted by 24 states and two cities were approved by the federal government, allowing the release of millions of dollars in funding for public health programs.
The $1 billion in grants, which will eventually go to all 50 states, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., was the largest onetime investment ever in the nation's public health systems. Recipients were asked to issue progress reports on their plans by Oct. 1.
The first 20% of the state and local preparation money was awarded before the plans were submitted.
Those whose plans were approved were being awarded the remaining 80% of their funds, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said Thursday at a Manhattan hospital.
"We have rejected a couple, but overall, they were great plans," Thompson said.
In January, Thompson announced that more than $1 billion in grants would be available to state and local governments if they submitted preparation plans that won approval from his Office of Public Health Preparedness.
States were expected to spend the money on building lab capacity; linking more health departments to the national Health Alert Network, which provides warnings about disease outbreaks; adding epidemiologists to state staffs; and developing education and training programs for doctors, nurses, local public health officials and the public.
Receiving approval were 24 states plus New York City and Chicago. Los Angeles and an additional 24 states are receiving some money, but their full amounts will only be awarded "following further plan development," according to HHS.
Thompson announced the grants and presented checks to New York Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, calling the state and city "national leaders on the public health and emergency preparedness front."
New York City receives $20.9 million in grants for its bioterrorism preparedness plans.
It already received $5.2 million in January when Thompson announced the grants. The state gets $27.1 million on top of its initial $6.7 million.