(CBS4) – While the CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through the mail, a Colorado postal worker says the U.S. Postal Service isn’t doing enough to protect its workers from the virus.
“My intention is not to make the post office look bad,” says Stefan Geisler, a mail carrier in Greenwood Village. He is sounding an alarm about what he calls a volatile situation at post offices across the country. He says employees are being forced to work in “beehive-like” conditions that put them at high risk of COVID-19.
“We’re about 40-50 people at Greenwood Village, so you’ve got 40-50 people buzzing around. If I have asymptomatic clerk, carrier or manager come in, in that beehive time I’m in a prime situation where I can infect and spread to everyone in the office.”
One sick worker, he says, can shut down an entire post office and impact delivery for thousands of people.
Geisler filed a complaint with the Postal Service this week accusing it of negligence.
“I said, ‘We need to reduce business bulk mail, we need distancing, we need staggering.'”
While mail delivery is deemed essential business, Geisler says bulk mail doesn’t qualify. He says the postal service is putting profits ahead of protection.
“This bulk business mail accounts for 25% of postal income,” he stated.
But James Boxrud with the Postal Service says it doesn’t have a choice.
“By law, not delivering mail is simply not an option. It is our responsibility, our duty and our job to connect America. We’ve done so through every crisis this nation has ever faced — weather crisis, economic hard times, war, civil unrest and uncertainty. And we will deliver through this crisis because America needs connection,” Boxrud said. “America needs the Postal Service.”
Boxrud also noted that some local restaurants are depending on bulk mail coupons to keep their businesses running during the pandemic.
Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, is trying to help by increasing funding for the Postal Service.
“We’ve heard from number individuals in different parts of the state, some in our own district, mail carriers who are very worried,” Neguse said.
Neguse has introduced legislation to increase funding for the postal service by $25 billion.
“Ensuring the agency has the resources it needs to deliver mail during this public health emergency but also taking necessary steps to protect workers,” Neguse said.
Geisler says he’s among the workers considered at higher risk. He says he is now experiencing symptoms.
The Postal Service says it’s following CDC guidelines by implementing social distancing measures, providing sanitizer, gloves and masks, increasing cleaning, and expanding sick leave.
Colorado has 9,000 postal employees. The Postal Service says eight employees at four locations have tested positive in the last month.