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'Neither Snow Nor Rain...'

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Those words, on the main post office in New York City, have long been used to represent the determination of mail carriers to get the job done, come what may.

Mail carriers and handlers everywhere - at the postal service, private mail services, and in mailrooms - are being asked to carry that determination to a new level, with new safety procedures in the wake of anthrax discoveries in Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Mailroom employees are being warned to check packages for misspellings in common names and words, to look for powdery substances and excessive or inadequate postage, and to contact authorities about any suspicious mail.

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The Postal Service announced the creation of a task force to examine mail security and hazardous-material safeguards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for handling letters and packages. And private delivery companies are scrutinizing their own procedures.

At NBC, where one employee contracted the skin form of anthrax and another has shown symptoms, the network has stopped accepting mail from the Postal Service.

Read more about the anthrax scare

"Our entire mail system is being looked at by professionals," spokeswoman Kassie Canter said. "Our interim procedure for the near-term future is that we're accepting UPS and FedEx, and they're being screened. Employees have the option not to accept anything."

On Monday night, ABC News President David Westin said an employee's child tested positive for the skin form of anthrax. The child, who is expected to recover, had visited the ABC newsroom in New York in the last few weeks.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said city officials received 82 calls by midday Monday and that 24 packages had been recovered for further investigation.

"So far none of them appear to be anything dangerous. Some of them have the scent of baby powder," Giuliani said.

In California, Gov. Gray Davis ordered state employees to stop handling letters and packages until they complete training sessions given by the California Highway Patrol.

"People are lining up around the block to take them," said Anne DaVigo, a Highway Patrol spokeswoman. "We're doing it just as fast as we can."

Click here to learn more about biological threats.

At a meeting of the National Postal Forum in Denver, Postmaster General Jack E. Potter announced the creation of a task force to re-examine mail security and hazardous material safeguards.

"We cannot afford for that confidence to erode," Potter told representatives of corporate and government mailrooms. "With additioal vigilance and additional work with our public, we won't let that happen."

A mail sorting facility in Florida was shut down Monday after a small amount of anthrax spores was found. The office handled mail for American Media Inc., where an editor died of inhalation anthrax.

FedEx Corp. employees were put on higher alert for suspicious mail.

FedEx is carefully screening packages and called the FBI about a few suspicious packages, all of which turned out to be false alarms, said Jess Bunn, a spokesman at the company headquarters in Memphis, Tenn. The company is also advising making gloves and respirators available to the employees.

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said mailroom security procedures have also been enhanced. She would not give details.

News organizations across the country said the same.

"We will look at packages and unless they say `confidential,' they will be opened. Junk mail is being set aside for the time being while we streamline the process," CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said.

Some manufacturers are taking steps as well.

Boeing Co., which has factories in the Seattle area and administrative offices in Chicago, has set up new checkpoints to inspect incoming shipments, spokesman Dean Tougas said. The inspection points were set up a distance away from the company's production areas.

At the postal forum in Denver, three seminars on mailroom security were added to the three-day convention. Potter told participants to watch for letters or packages that lack a return address or have a vague address.

He said suspicious pieces of mail should be put in a plastic bag and turned over to authorities. "Don't open it. Don't shake it. Don't smell it," he said.

The CDC also said suspicious letters or packages should be placed in a plastic bag or similar covering. People should then leave the room, close the door and wash their hands with soap and water before notifying police and building security officials.

On Monday night, ABC News President David Westin said an employee's child tested positive for the skin form of anthrax. The child, who is expected to recover, had visited the ABC newsroom in New York in the last few weeks.

© MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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