Lawmakers seek briefing on COVID-19 illnesses among Postal Service workers
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
In a Feb. 9 letter, Democratic lawmakers asked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for a briefing on how many postal workers have fallen sick or died from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It should be among the issues raised with DeJoy and Ron Bloom, chairman of the United States Postal Service’s board of governors, at a hearing tentatively scheduled for Feb. 24 by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform.
In advance of the hearing, Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., and Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., said the Postal Service needs to be more transparent about the impact the pandemic is having.
Their letter cited a news account saying more than 16,000 postal workers have been quarantined by the illness and 119 had died as a result of it.
“We are writing to request a briefing about the alarmingly high numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths suffered by postal workers during this pandemic,” they said in their letter to DeJoy.
Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer defended the Postal Service’s actions in a detailed statement.
“With a workforce of more than 644,000 employees, 43,451 employees tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began,” he said.
“The Postal Service has a dedicated COVID-19 Command Response leadership team that continues to focus on employee and customer safety in conjunction with operational and business continuity during this unprecedented epidemic,” Partenheimer said.
“We continue to follow the strategies and measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health departments,” he said.
Partenheimer also emphasized the on protective measures being taken to protect Postal Service employees: “We are ensuring millions of face coverings, including 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.
“We also have opened up local purchasing authorities and sourcing options so that our employees can access additional supplies within the communities they serve. We have expanded our national sourcing of supplies and services to ensure that increasing demands are met.
“Supervisors are ensuring that contact among our employees and with our customers reflects the best guidance regarding healthy interactions, social distancing, and risk minimization.
“We have implemented measures at retail facilities and mail processing facilities to ensure appropriate social distancing, including through signage, floor tape, and ‘cough/sneeze’ barriers.
“We have changed delivery procedures to eliminate the requirement that customers sign our Mobile Delivery Devices for delivery.”
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