By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The United States Postal Service distribution center in Denver, which processes most of Wyoming’s mail, is pushing back against orders from the city and county of Denver for it to temporarily close because of a possible coronavirus outbreak.
Facility spokesman David Rupert told Cowboy State Daily in a phone interview that USPS employees are a bit confused as to why the city and county chose to try and shut down the facility now.
“[Denver] public health told us we’ve had five cases [of the virus] and our last positive case was May 2,” he said. “In corona terms, that’s a long time.”
The facility processes 10 million pieces of mail per day for all but extreme western Wyoming and all of Colorado. In one year, it processes about 1.4 billion pieces of mail, and that’s just the numbers for incoming parcels and letters. Wyoming’s mail is sent to sorting centers in Cheyenne, Casper and Rock Springs.
Rupert said that on Wednesday, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment staff attempted to visit the facility in response to reports of “clusters of COVID-19 cases involving multiple employees at several USPS locations over the last week.”
The spokesman noted that the DDPHE staff members arrived unannounced at the secure federal facility, spoke with a “random” employee and were denied entry to the building.
Rupert added that since the DDPHE staff have no knowledge of USPS’ attempt to protect its employees and the public, he and the other Denver USPS officials are confused by the shutdown order.
In a tweet issued Thursday afternoon, the facility reaffirmed its commitment to staying open, as the facility meets all of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
Postal workers are now wearing face masks and gloves. Plastic shields have been installed at facilities where employees interact with the public. Staff are also being provided with hand sanitizer and various personal protective equipment.
Rupert said USPS and city/county officials are continuing talks about the order, with the spokesman adding that USPS is doing its best to be “good neighbors.”
Rupert noted that although USPS is a federal entity, it doesn’t receive federal funds, staying self-sufficient through sales of stamps and other items in its facilities.
“We’re an essential service,” he said. “It’s in the United States Constitution that the post office is essential. We’re delivering stimulus checks, medication, election materials. We’re helping keep America safe and that’s why we need to stay open.”