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article imageWithout additional funding, the USPS may shut down by June

By Karen Graham     Apr 4, 2020 in Politics
During the COVID-19 crisis, postal workers have been considered "essential workers" who must continue to do their jobs as usual while others stay home. However, lawmakers say that without additional funding, the USPS could shut down by June.
Mail delivery is but one of the many activities in our everyday lives we take for granted. Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver more than just the monthly bills. They also deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic is now threatening the future of mail service in the U.S. Besides the drop in mail volume brought on by stay-at-home rules and many online retailers resorting to shipping "essential" items only, there is a real danger that the postal service could close down in the next few months.
To that end, last week, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Gerry Connolly, chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the COVID-19 crisis is threatening the future of mail service in the U.S.
"The Postal Service is in need of urgent help as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis," they said. "Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House. Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications."
The letter said postal workers delivered more than a billion shipments of prescription drugs last year, and ceasing operations during the virus outbreak could have dire consequences for the health of people around the country.
Postal workers demand better safety response
There's growing anxiety among mail carriers, who say the USPS isn't doing enough to protect them from the virus. Workers complained to Business Insider about not only the lack of gloves and masks to keep them safe on the job but also about unsanitary conditions in post offices and mail trucks.
Many mail carriers, including USPS employees in the Suncoast region of Florida said the Postal Service hadn't been supplying masks or gloves, or even keeping hand sanitizer in the office and trucks.
One mail carrier at a post office outside Stockton, California, said the only protection he was aware of was a big container of hand sanitizer his supervisor keeps on their desk.
"They aren't taking this very seriously in my opinion at all," he said. "We don't have masks. There isn't social distancing." He added that in the back of the post office, "you're nearly shoulder to shoulder with everyone all the time."
Dave Partenheimer, a USPS spokesman, told Business Insider on Thursday that 259 of the Postal Service's 630,000 employees had tested positive for COVID-19. Partenheimer did not say how many workers had died of the disease, but unions have reported the deaths of two mail carriers in New York City and Detroit in recent days.
The USPS did not respond to the workers' concerns directly but said in a statement that it was taking action to limit the risk of infection among its staff.
More about Usps, Covid19, additional funding, mail volumes, Critical
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