TESTING THE POSTAL SERVICE: Spanberger Presses Postmaster General to Make Sure COVID-19 Test Kits are Quickly Distributed to Virginians

Feb 03, 2022
Local Issues
Press

Congresswoman to DeJoy: “I Am Especially Concerned about the Delivery of COVID-19 Tests for Those Households Currently Experiencing Mail Delivery Issues”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today pressed U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to provide answers to Virginians about how his agency plans to distribute COVID-19 testing kits in a timely fashion — particularly in the face of ongoing mail and delivery service delays.

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) began distributing free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests to residential addresses across the country. However, Spanberger has heard in recent months from thousands of constituents about delayed deliveries, reduced Post Office hours, and other challenges in Virginia — meaning the efficiency of these test deliveries could be hampered by systemic problems and questionable management decisions.

In a letter sent to Postmaster General DeJoy, Spanberger outlined how USPS delays have negatively impacted Virginia families, businesses, and seniors. Additionally, she pushed for answers about how the USPS intends to address staffing issues in Virginia, communicate with customers about potentially delayed test deliveries, and improve coordination across the administration on this priority.

“Though mail delivery has generally improved over the past year and a half, Central Virginians continue to contact my office for assistance locating their missing mail,” said Spanberger. “I understand that the Omicron variant has contributed to worker shortages across the country – including at the USPS. I am grateful for the dedicated Postal employees, many of whom are working late hours and covering additional routes to serve their communities and uphold USPS’ mission of providing universal service.”

Spanberger continued, “While I support the USPS in partnering with the Administration to deliver rapid COVID-19 tests for households across the country, I am concerned about the impact on mail delivery for my constituents. I am especially concerned about the delivery of COVID-19 tests for those households currently experiencing mail delivery issues.”

Click here to read Spanberger’s letter to Postmaster DeJoy. The full letter text is also below.

Dear Postmaster General DeJoy,

Over the past several weeks, constituents across my district in Central Virginia have contacted my office about mail delivery issues. From Nottoway to Culpeper, individuals have reported going more than a week without mail. As the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) begins to distribute millions of COVID-19 tests across the country, I am concerned about further delivery inconsistencies for those I represent. Delayed delivery of these tests is not only an inconvenience but could have serious consequences for the health and safety of communities across the country.

Though mail delivery has generally improved over the past year and a half, Central Virginians continue to contact my office for assistance locating their missing mail. I understand that the Omicron variant has contributed to worker shortages across the country – including at the USPS. I am grateful for the dedicated Postal employees, many of whom are working late hours and covering additional routes to serve their communities and uphold USPS’ mission of providing universal service.

However, I am also keenly aware that many of the delays in mail delivery are a direct result of the controversial reforms implemented by your office to slash costs at the expense of the timeliness of mail delivery. The decision to extend standard delivery times in October 2021 and to raise prices in 2021 and 2022 have been especially harmful to many rural communities, like those I represent across Central Virginia. As such, I continue to have serious concerns about these so-called “reforms,” and the impact they may have in this moment when the USPS is being trusted to carry out essential public health functions as a part of our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

While I support the USPS in partnering with the Administration to deliver rapid COVID-19 tests for households across the country, I am concerned about the impact on mail delivery for my constituents. I am especially concerned about the delivery of COVID-19 tests for those households currently experiencing mail delivery issues.

Accordingly, I would appreciate a response to the following:

1. Please list the current number of open positions in Virginia.

2. I understand the USPS is hiring temporary staff to assist with the distribution of tests. Are there currently shortages among temporary staff? If so, please elaborate.

3. Does the USPS engage in efforts to transition temporary staff to permanent staff if there is a shortage of permanent staff?

4. The USPS directs those experiencing various issues ordering COVID tests to the USPS Customer Care Center. Has the USPS hired additional staff to field calls to the USPS Customer Care line?

5. What is the mechanism of coordination between the USPS, postal unions, Administration officials, and the U.S. Digital Service?

6. How does the USPS intend to communicate with customers if there is a delay in the supply of tests, therefore causing a delay in deliveries?

a. If this is not the responsibility of the USPS, whose is it?

The USPS provides an essential service for Americans across the country. Without a functioning USPS, Central Virginians cannot reliably receive lifesaving prescription medications, bills, and letters from loved ones, and many local businesses cannot fill customer orders in a timely manner.

As the USPS adds COVID-19 tests to this list, I look forward to hearing from you regarding my questions above. Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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