Despite Everything, the Mail Still Comes

Snail mail has taken on fresh resonance in this period of isolation, grief and unrest. Sympathy cards are selling out as the coronavirus’s toll continues to rise. Constituents are mailing in primary election ballots and addressing handwritten notes to local officials with compliments and complaints. (In some cities, they may also be sending letters to the police.) Many more are writing postcards to friends and loved ones, and calling for the United States Postal Service to be saved from its dire financial straits.

First-class mail has been a declining category for the Postal Service for over a decade. It will be a few months before the service publishes statistics on mail volumes for April and May, but it did see “significantly higher product sales” of items including stamps in April, according to a representative. A Postal Service survey whose results were published in May found that one in six consumers had sent more mail to family and friends during the pandemic.

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