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Postal Service aims to protect workers from coronavirus

Andrew Hyman
Created: April 04, 2020 07:19 PM

ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) – Coronavirus closures may be widespread, but the post office is still shipping. 

Just because the mail is moving though, this is not business as usual.

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News10NBC stopped by the Rochester Post Office on Jefferson Road to get a first-hand look at how the postal service is approaching the pandemic.

Right now, package and letter drop-offs are going as normal. If you look a little closer, though, you’ll spot the difference. People were standing six feet apart in a line, with caution tape indicating the distance, we also spotted some employees wearing masks and gloves as they directed customers.

Western District Manager Gary Vaccarella says this is all part of the plan.

"The safety of our employees and customers are our highest priority," says Vaccarella.

In addition to spacing out customers, most locations have also added sneeze and cough guards at the counters. It's just a part of the multiple safety measures outlined by the United States Postal Service, which are run in conjunction with guidelines from the Center for Disease Control. This includes shipping millions of masks and gloves to more than 30,000 post offices nationwide. For workers who get sick, the company has adjusted its leave policy. 

Now, how about when that mail gets delivered to your home?

"We’re not having that interaction with customers, we're not handing packages to customers, we're setting them on doorsteps, and we’re not requiring signatures at this time," Vaccarella says.

As answered in a News10NBC Good Question segment, doctors say the risk of getting the virus through the mail is low as long as you wash your hands,

On a local level, a USPS spokesperson tells us no workers have tested positive for the virus in the region.

Vaccarella touted the postal service’s ability to navigate through previous tragedies and viruses, adding that the post office will continue to serve safely through the pandemic.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

In following with CDC guidelines, Vaccarella is encouraging people follow the social distancing advice when at a post office. He also advises you do not attempt to approach a mail carrier while they are out in the field.

OTHER CONCERNS?

In late March, U.S. Rep Carolyn B. Maloney, who is the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to express concern for the future financial well-being of the postal service. 

The Democrat co-introduced a bill to provide $25 million in emergency funding to the postal service, also included is forgiveness of its current debt, among other provisions.

News10NBC asked Vaccarella for comment. He declined, but, a spokesperson for the USPS said in part:

“The United States Postal Service appreciates the inclusion of limited emergency borrowing authority during this COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the Postal Service remains concerned that this measure will be insufficient to enable the Postal Service to withstand the significant downturn in our business that could directly result from the pandemic.  Under a worst-case scenario, such a downturn could result in the Postal Service having insufficient liquidity to continue operations."

You can view the full statement here.


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