The United States Postal Service is proud of the role our more than 650,000 employees play in processing, transporting, and delivering mail and packages for the American public. We provide a vital public service that is a part of this nation’s critical infrastructure. The Postal Service has a dedicated Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Command Response leadership team that is focusing on employee and customer safety in conjunction with operational and business continuity during this unprecedented epidemic. We continue to follow the strategies and measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health departments. The CDC has information available on its website at https://www.coronavirus.gov that provides the latest information about COVID-19.
To reduce health risks for our employees and customers and safeguard our operational and business continuity, the Postal Service has an existing extensive COVID-19 mitigation program in place.
This program includes the following elements:
- Ensuring that all cleaning occurs in a manner consistent with postal policies specified for this pandemic.
- Implementing appropriate social distancing at retail facilities and mail processing facilities, including signage, floor tape, and “cough/sneeze” barriers.
- Mandating the use of face coverings for all employees and contractors who interact with the public when there is a state, local or tribal directive in place that requires face coverings to be worn. Additionally, face coverings are required for employees and contractors who do not deal directly with the public and who cannot achieve or maintain social distancing in the workplace.
- Reinforcing workplace behaviors to ensure that contact among our employees and with our customers reflects the best guidance regarding healthy interactions, social distancing, and risk minimization.
- Implementing a liberal leave policy for COVID-19-related absences, which helps employees stay home if they are sick.
- Utilizing a robust contact tracing protocol to identify and quarantine close contacts consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Ensuring millions of cloth face coverings, masks, gloves, and cleaning and sanitizing products are available and distributed to more than 30,000 locations every day through our Postal Service supply chain.
- Issuing a daily cadence of employee talks, articles, videos, and other communications to ensure employees have the latest information and guidance.
- Distributing cleaning response kits to facilities that have had a confirmed case of COVID-19. Each kit contains EPA approved cleaning and disinfecting products, tools, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Training new employees remotely to adhere to the social distancing requirements.
- Increasing the amount of outside air volume coming into postal facilities to provide clean, fresh air for workspaces consistent with postal policy.
- Providing telework options for those employees whose position can be successfully and efficiently performed at an alternate location.
The Postal Service’s mitigation plans continue to perform well, enabling the organization to maintain strong service performance scores across all mail categories.
The Postal Service delivers much needed medications and Social Security checks, and we are the leading delivery service for online purchases. As an essential service provider, the Postal Service is exempted from compliance with state or municipality shelter-in-place orders or other social distancing restrictions. The statute that created the Postal Service begins with the following sentence: “The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by an Act of Congress, and supported by the people.” 39 U.S.C. §101(a).
According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). “COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person in respiratory droplets from someone who is infected.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html) The CDC recognizes that while it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#How-COVID-19-Spreads)