As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Pennsylvania and the nation, the United States Postal Service is taking necessary precautions to help keep its employees, customers and the mail safe.
In a March 22 statement, the Postal Service announced that it has established a “dedicated COVID-19 Command Response leadership team” that is focused on continuity among its employees and customers.
“We continue to follow the strategies and measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health departments,” the statement said.
The statement also announced that the Postal Service is sharing the latest information from health officials with its employees, who are being encouraged to follow “healthy behaviors and protocols” such as frequent hand washing, use of sanitizers and additional cleaning of work spaces.
Hellertown Postmaster Joe DiRusso confirmed that he begins each day with a service talk in which coronavirus precautions are discussed with staff.
“We get stuff multiple times a day that we share with our employees,” he said. “For the most part that’s what our service talks have been about.”
As part of the precautions the USPS is encouraging employees who feel sick to stay home, and has been working with postal unions to expand leave options during the pandemic.
In an effort to accommodate to social distancing, the USPS is also making modifications to its customer signature capture procedures.
For packages requiring a signature upon receipt, mail carriers will ask the customer to provide their first initial and last name, which the carrier will then enter on their electronic screen. Carriers will then leave the package in the customer’s mail receptacle or in a location by the customer’s door while maintaining a safe distance.
The USPS is the recipient of a $10 billion relief package under the $2 trillion federal economic stimulus package that was signed into law Friday which will help further reduce contact between postal workers and customers. According to a story published by Business Insider, as part of the effort Congress is authorizing the Postal Service to create contactless delivery points throughout the U.S., similar to Amazon Locker pickup points.
The Postal Service’s statement noted that the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Surgeon General have all indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.
“The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low,” the WHO notes on its website.
DiRusso shared that the Hellertown post office is being regularly sanitized as part of the USPS precautions now in place.
DiRusso and other Hellertown Postal Service staff disinfect the building every day, targeting areas and objects such as counters, phones, computers and staplers.
“Anything that is physically touched by human hands is getting disinfected multiple times throughout the day,” DiRusso said.
The Hellertown Post Office is also disinfecting their mail delivery trucks. Drivers are provided with disinfectant wipes and are being instructed to wipe down their trucks daily. DiRusso also said their custodian will be disinfecting the truck interiors a few times during the week.
Drivers and mail carriers are also being provided with disposable gloves and hand sanitizer.
The inside of the post office is being modified to keep customers safe. Gloves are provided for customers, and signs are posted reminding patrons to keep six feet apart from each other.
The Hellertown Post Office is currently providing stamps through the mail for customers who are hesitant to visit the post office to purchase them. Anyone in need of stamps delivered via the mail may call the post office at 610-838-9351.
Although it’s not quite business as usual these days, the post office’s hours haven’t changed. Located at 660 Delaware Avenue, the Hellertown post office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon.