WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) today urged the Postmaster General to do more to protect its hundreds of thousands of postal workers who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their job duties, and who risk spreading the disease to the individuals they deliver mail to. He was joined by New Jersey Democrats Senator Bob Menendez, Rep. Tom Malinowski, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Rep. Donald Payne, Rep. Andy Kim, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Albio Sires, and Rep. Donald Norcross.
At least 40 U.S. Postal Service (USPS) workers have already tested positive for the virus.
“We…owe it to the hardworking employees of the USPS to ensure they receive adequate benefits and protections during the coronavirus crisis,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan. “Any failure of the USPS to keep its workers safe not only puts their employees at risk, but also threatens each of the communities they serve.”
Specifically, the lawmakers expressed concern with reports that letter carriers are not being provided protective gear, like hand sanitizer, masks, or gloves, and that they are still expected to enter senior facilities, despite recommendations from the government against doing so.
They also expressed concern that workers “have been pressured to continue working despite displaying symptoms of COVID-19” and that in some cases, “employees were forced to work until they were able to produce a doctor’s note confirming that they had contracted coronavirus—a significant challenge given the shortage of available tests.”
“Our offices have heard from multiple USPS employees, as well as concerned citizens, expressing concern that the entire USPS infrastructure, from processing and distribution centers to individual post offices, are severely underprepared to protect its workforce from coronavirus,” the lawmakers added. “We have also heard from multiple USPS employees that their workstations in processing and distribution centers force them to remain in close proximity to their colleagues, in contradiction of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
The lawmakers asked the Postmaster General to respond to a series of questions listed by March 30.
Full text of the letter is here.
Today’s letter follows a letter Booker sent last week to Amazon, expressing similar concern that its delivery workers were not properly protected and were at risk of transmitting COVID-19 to individuals they deliver packages to.