This is just a test. But imagine that a something really nasty is spreading around the state.
Jonathan Best, the state public health official running the test to see whether he can get medications to people in a large-scale emergency, laid out the scenario. "It is a respiratory infection," he said, "of unknown origin, affecting a large portion of the state's population. The index cases indicate that this is spreading, and there's a number of hospitalizations."
The state wants to know whether it has the right plan in place to respond. As part of that test, it will get 500,000 units of antibiotics from something called the federal Strategic National Stockpile. Those units should arrive on Wednesday, either by plane or by truck.
"We'll get 500,000 units of something. It may just be empty pill bottles," Best said.
Then comes the next step.
"The state Department of Public Health then has to receive the material, secure it, repackage it against the needs of the individual communities, and distribute it out to those communities," he said. "Those are specifically the pieces we're testing this time."
Supplies will go out to 75 locations across the state, with the help of contractors, various state agencies, and law enforcement. Best says the goals are clear: see if the infrastructure in place works well, quickly, and at a reasonable expense. The drill should be complete on Thursday.