As more than three-dozen U.S. Postal Service employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the agency is taking new steps to protect employees who remain concerned they do not have the proper resources to stay safe.
USPS has struck memoranda of understanding with its employees’ labor unions, which give non-career workers access to 80 hours of paid leave, enable individuals to take leave if they are vulnerable to COVID-19 or to care for loved ones, and allow some groups of employees to work remotely. The agency has committed to ramping up its efforts to clean “frequently touched items,” though workers have raised concerns they are not receiving adequate supplies like hand sanitizer. Citing the national diversion to frontline health care workers of personal protective equipment, such as the N95 masks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended as most effective in preventing the spread of the virus, USPS has instead promised to make standard surgical masks and gloves available to workers upon request.
To date, 40 postal workers have contracted the virus. Many more are home on mandatory quarantine as they may have come in contact with infected individuals.