USPS carrying on as pandemic sweeps region
The U.S. Postal Service and its postal workers continue to serve their customers nearly every day of the week and a spokesman says the USPS is taking precautions to support its employees as they carry on their normal processes.
Floyd Wagoner, strategic communications specialist for the southern area including Texas, said the 31,000-plus post offices have been prepared for these strenuous situations.
“We’ve been through lots of things like hurricanes and natural disasters or a world war,” Wagoner said. “The post office has been around a long time. Over that time, we’ve developed a way to adjust our workforce.”
Wagoner said the coronavirus has had little to no impact on day-to-day operations and that the outpouring of support from communities has been tremendous.
“Our carriers have been getting notes of generosity,” Wagoner said. “The support has been fantastic. That has helped boost the morale when folks have been out there working hard. We thank those people for their support as we work through this just like you. Even customers are supplying us with masks, which goes back to how good the community has been.”
The USPS has constant communication with its post offices and will continue to take steps to make sure its workers and customers are as safe as possible.
“We have daily communications about the way to work through this together and stay safe, whether it’s the cleaning of the vehicle, your hygiene or social distancing from your customers,” Wagoner said. “We want to make sure they know the simple things. The lobby of an average post office has changed. We have fixed barriers in the office to keep our employees and customers safe. We also have social distancing markings on the ground. On a case by case basis, we also have limits of how many people allowed. The cleaning levels have new policies. They are more frequent and more thorough.”
Sanger Postmaster Lancer Finley said Wednesday morning it’s been business as usual and haven’t had any problems or delays during the pandemic. “We are taking all the precautions the CDC recommends. We are cleaning and sanitizing every two hours and have signs posted about the six foot social distancing.”
He said the number of letters mailed has dropped recently, but packages have picked up.
In a statement sent out by the USPS on April 2, the service entailed exactly what else they are doing to keep its workers safe, including “ensuring millions of masks, gloves and cleaning and sanitizing product are available and distributed to more than 30,000 locations every day through our Postal Service supply chain” and opening up local sourcing options so employees can get more supplies.
The USPS is also extended 80 additional hours for annual sick leave for employees which can allow workers to take care of their families if need be.
“We’ve been very liberal in that regard just in case they need to take care of themselves or their family members,” Wagoner said. “There are many scenarios like daycares shutting down. It’s designed to support employees that are going through this. By giving them that leave, we’re saying we understand. We’re not going to dip into that personal leave time.”
Wagoner said the day-to-day mail delivery has also been paired down, allowing carriers to print the customer’s name if a signature is required to eliminate contact.
“At this time, based on CDC and WHO guidelines, there is a very low risk of the transfer of the virus in mail delivery,” Wagoner said. “We’ve set up some sort of routine where the mail is handed off to the individual. We are working with customers on a case by case basis to establish those local transferring on mail that emphasizes no touching.”
The USPS is also encouraging customers to use its online services as much as possible, including an online census and USPS informed delivery.
Wagoner said that is a great way to keep in touch with the mail process from home.
“When you sign up for informed delivery, it gives you an actual picture of the mail on the way to the house,” Wagoner said. “Many people are waiting for their unemployment check, or their tax return check or the stimulus check. It’s a great way to react to what is in my mailbox. Every piece of mail has a picture taken, so when you sign up, we match this mail with it during the process. It’s a very cool feature.”
Wagoner said it is important for the USPS to continue its regular services to help reassure people during these times.
“We have to maintain a 24-hour, seven days a week operation and we want our employees and customers to stay safe,” Wagoner said. “We also get a lot of comments that having the mail person coming to the front door every day gives them a sense of calm. It’s a great comfort to know that mail is coming every day. It lets them know that things are OK.”