A dozen of the DeLand post office’s 88 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, but local mail delivery continues, the U.S. Postal Service said.
While the 12 workers deal with the illness, other postal workers are putting in additional days and hours to keep the mail flowing, said David Walton, a corporate communications officer for USPS.
Walton noted that both the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. surgeon general have said COVID-19 is unlikely to be spread via mail or packaging, but extra personnel have been brought into the DeLand post office nevertheless, to “enhance and supplement” cleaning and disinfection protocols already being followed because of the pandemic.
Some DeLand-area residents have reported later-than-usual mail delivery during the day, but Walton expressed confidence that there will be no serious service effects due to the COVID-19 cases.
“We continue to leverage our available resources to match the increased workload, including hiring based on local needs,” Walton said.
The Beacon was first notified of the situation Oct. 21. It was confirmed by several current and former postal workers, but they could not comment publicly for fear of their jobs, they said. Official word reached The Beacon today, Oct. 23.
One source told The Beacon some local postal workers are putting in 12-hour days, in some cases seven days a week, but that was not confirmed by Walton’s office.
Walton said the DeLand post office — and the postal system nationwide — are following recommended strategies from the CDC and local health departments to protect the public and other postal workers from COVID-19.
“At this time, we believe exposure risk for other employees at the [DeLand] office is low,” Walton said.
He also said there are no known positive cases of COVID-19 at any other West Volusia post offices. As of Wednesday, Oct. 28, four of the employees had returned to work.
With thousands of mail-in ballots being returned each day to the Volusia County Elections Office in DeLand, Elections Supervisor Lisa Lewis has noticed no effects on her mail. During an election, Lewis’ office doesn’t wait for a letter-carrier, anyway.
“For the most part, we go pick up our mail, especially during elections, so we can have it early,” Lewis said.
Carriers will deliver items that come in after the daily pickup, she said.
As of Oct. 22, a total of 107,888 Volusia County voters had returned mail-in ballots to the Elections Office, either in the mail or by dropping off the ballots.
Mail-in ballots are being tabulated now, but by law no results can be revealed or uploaded before 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.