SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis is expanding California’s efforts to battle the threat of bio-terrorism as fears of deadly germs rise across the nation.
Davis said Monday he will call on scientists from the University of California, other universities and the private sector to advise him on the state’s preparedness for a potential attack using biological or chemical weapons.
“We are just preparing for the worst but hoping for the best,” Davis said during a series of interviews with broadcast media across the state.
The announcement comes as fears of a bio-terrorist attack are surging following the death last week of a Florida man from Anthrax disease and the discovery of spores of the potentially deadly bacterium in one of his co-workers.
Davis said a task force has been preparing for potential bio-terrorism attacks for two years in California. Since Sept. 11, state officials have held seminars to train medical personnel to spot and treat Anthrax and other diseases and are testing California’s water system daily.
The California Highway Patrol also has stepped up patrols across the state from aqueducts and bridges to amusement parks and nuclear power plants, Davis said.
“We are moving on all fronts to envision any contingency and to prepare for it,” he said.
Davis said he will “assemble the best scientists we have” to analyze what more should be done.
California has been mentioned as a likely target for further terrorist strikes, and Davis said Attorney General John Ashcroft warned him that Hollywood film studios could be at risk.
Still, Davis said authorities have found no credible threats to California so far, and he urged the state’s residents to “summon up the personal courage” to go about their lives without fear.
“We just have to live our lives, otherwise the terrorists win,” Davis said.