POSTAL DISTANCING: A letter carrier’s plea

(WSB photo, West Seattle Junction post office)

Among the workers who don’t have the option of staying home to do their job … your U.S. Postal Service employees. Letter carriers, for example, are continuing to deliver, to houses, apartments, businesses, and other places, as always. One of your local letter carriers called us the other night, asking if we could share her request: Please allow your letter carriers to observe “social distancing.” Some residents, she said, are “coming right up to the door” to greet her as usual – but as we all have to remember, these are not “usual” times. “A lot of people don’t realize how serious this is all getting,”she said. She can’t necessarily disinfect every single thing before and after she touches it – “we’re touching so many things all day” – so please allow her to drop off the packages, put the mail in the box or slot, and move on, for your safety and hers. “I adore my people, I would do anything for them,” she said. “I’m not trying to be rude …” just trying to stay safe.

P.S. As for whether the mail itself can spread the virus – the latest USPS statement on COVID-19 was issued on Sunday. It reiterates “the CDC the World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.”

62 Replies to "POSTAL DISTANCING: A letter carrier's plea"

  • LG March 23, 2020 (10:10 am)

    Thanks for the reminder. 

    • Shlane Barrett March 24, 2020 (10:25 pm)

      I am also a rural carrier. I have typed out a note stating “ Please Keep 6 feet from mail carriers vehicle, Thank you” and I taped this to the inside of the back seat passengers windows.

  • Lisa March 23, 2020 (10:35 am)

    I was in the yard when my mail carrier approached the yard. Usually I would grab the mail from his hand, but I stayed away and let him put it in the mailbox. I think that people should not be afraid to request the space. I know it feels a little awkward, but people should understand and not be offended. It’s also a good reminder to let those who aren’t taking this as seriously, to see that others are and maybe start taking more precaution themselves. Thank you to all the postal carriers!

    • Joanie Robbins March 23, 2020 (6:57 pm)

      Thank you

    • William J Asewicz March 24, 2020 (2:14 pm)

      l live in Oakland Park, Florida, delivered mail to Miami Gardens, Florida. just put through my retirement forms, I do understand your concern, it’s something we should be worried about, health is important.                                           Good Luck 🙂

  • Rebecca von Duering March 23, 2020 (10:49 am)

    We’ve also been disinfecting the mailbox for our postal carrier

    • Kathleen Petty March 23, 2020 (6:27 pm)

      Thank you Rebecca . I’m a letter carrier in California and I wish my customers would spray their boxes too. 

      • Katie wilhelm March 23, 2020 (7:06 pm)

        I’m a mail lady in California too! Thank you for all you do!!!! I’m a city mail lady my route is 13 to 15 miles of walking a day. We touch so much stuff. I was crying the other day cus I’m so scared. So I calmed myself down and kept going, the very next house Mrs. Kelso had made me a copper tree of life on drift wood. It reminded me how important we are to our customers. My new thought process is to just serve my customers to the best of my ability! Again thank you for ALL YOU DO! 💙✌🏼Katie the Maillady 

        • Joseph Piasecki March 24, 2020 (2:27 am)

          13-15 miles really 38 yrs service ; retired 1.5 yrs i have never seen that

          • Mike March 24, 2020 (9:34 am)

            I’m a city carrier and I walk 13.7 a day

      • Rain Girl March 24, 2020 (2:53 am)

        A million thank you’s to our customers who have the foresight to disinfect their mail box.  Usually we don’t have the time or proper materials to take care of numerous mail boxes.  Calif. Mail Lady for decades

      • Scott March 24, 2020 (2:00 pm)

        Unfortunately, like many, I work 12 hours, 6 days a week so by the time I have a chance to make it to the store to shop for groceries the shelves are empty of all disinfecting products.  I haven’t even been able to buy toilet paper for three weeks.

    • Annabel March 23, 2020 (8:13 pm)

      Thank you.  From a letter carrier in texas :)

    • Alison O March 24, 2020 (4:41 am)

      Thank you from a Rural Carrier in Rhode Island. ❤📬

  • anonyme March 23, 2020 (11:21 am)

    I have no choice but to approach the postal carrier as they refuse to pick up outgoing mail.   I would rather not, but there is no alternative.  There are no dropoff locations within walking distance.  If carriers are going to deny service, then other options should be provided.  Those of us who are in isolation and high-risk still need to pay bills, and not all companies offer online payment options.

    • SHERRY ANDERSON March 23, 2020 (1:02 pm)

      Why would your mail carrier not pick up your outgoing mail??

      • orcmid March 23, 2020 (1:29 pm)

        Mail carriers stopped taking outgoing mail attached to residential mailboxes a few years ago.  I don’t know the reason.  It might have been an anti-theft provision.With regard to carriers not accepting mail by hand, accepting might be a courtesy and not something that is now an official practice.   Need to ask post office about it.

        • KM March 23, 2020 (1:50 pm)

          My mail is always picked up from my mailbox by my regular mail carrier, and often by “substitute” mail carriers on the route. Seems to be a case-by-case or carrier-by-carrier issue.

          • David March 24, 2020 (10:51 am)

            Mail persons are not required to pick up mail even if the flag is up, IF, they do not have mail to deliver to that place, most veteran mail persons will do so anyways, I have always done so in 27 years of delivery.

        • Queen March 23, 2020 (1:57 pm)

          I’m a mail carrier and we still pick up out going mail out of all the mail boxes I’m in houston i don’t about any where else but we do here

        • Butch March 23, 2020 (5:32 pm)

          Not true. Carriers will pick up outgoing mail at residents mailboxes. Make sure it’s visible from the street. They will not stop at your house if they have no mail for you but will certainly pick up outgoing mail if they can see it from the street. 

          • San March 24, 2020 (6:50 pm)

            Is he talking about cluster boxes? There is usually an outgoing box. Carriers cannot look into individual boxes that are in cluster boxes to search for outgoing mail. Maybe that is what he is referring to. 

        • Mia E Hinckley March 24, 2020 (12:39 pm)

          30 year carrier and I am required to accept any outgoing mail. I train new hires for the Santa Ana district and we teach all new hires the same policy. We accept all outgoing mail. 

        • Kim March 24, 2020 (5:29 pm)

          city carriers only pick up mail, if they have mail for that box. They do not walk to a box if there is no mail to put in it. Rural carriers are required to stop at every box. 

      • P Wertz March 24, 2020 (9:27 am)

        I’m a letter carrier in PA. It’s there job to p/u as well as del your mail.

    • Jr March 23, 2020 (3:05 pm)

      Not for nothing but u might have had a part timer or maybe a mistake was made we are all human however you could have been a little more sympathetic since us carriers are on the frontline and giving door to door service and it seems to me your more concerned about it bills being payed ( which I understand but obviously ur to lazy to drive to the nearest blue box and if that’s not the case the people who u need to pay should be more sympathetic to the current situation) I completely understand with outgoing mail not being picked up I get it completely but how many days was it left not picked up??? And if ur answer is less then one then you should be ashamed and obviously ur selfish. We bust out butts walking countless miles during whatever mother nature throws at us and all u can say is I have to approach the carrier because he made a mistake… u have never done such a thing??? I’m sorry however it is a rough time and it seems u don’t give a damn and u should be ashamed of yourself especially since u have no idea what we.go threw or what or family life is so a little Respect goes a long way and trust me we are doing our best to take care of our customers and our families do give a little leanyency

      • Carlos Sanchez March 24, 2020 (11:28 am)

        I completely agree with you…Remember always there are people who needs to complain for everything otherwise they don’t feel well. I love the USPS and its excelent service .

  • Connie DeWall March 23, 2020 (11:30 am)

    Postal carrier had a letter for me to sign for. Need to figure something else out or just refuse it 

    • Cathy Earley March 23, 2020 (1:58 pm)

      Starting on 3/21 now your postal carrier will ring your bell & sign for your package or certified letter in front of you, then leave it. You’ll never have to sign on our scanners, so not to worry!😄

    • Queen March 23, 2020 (2:02 pm)

      U can ask ur carrier to leave u a pick notice signed the back and put back in your box so they can pick up for redeliver u will not have to be home. That how we are doing it here in Houston

    • Bob Loblaw March 23, 2020 (2:32 pm)

      As of March 20th, a lot of states are allowing the carriers to sign for the package or certified letters themselves, as long as someone comes to the door. They dont have to come further  and we can leave it at the door or box for them to do with it as they like.

      • Durel Hauser March 24, 2020 (6:56 am)

        States don’t regulate USPS. Nation wide they can sign for you.

    • Darryl March 24, 2020 (12:03 pm)

      We as carriers will pick up outgoing mail from mailboxes. And we will also do our best to serve the public at this time.  When a letter needs a signature, all you have to do is sign your name and print it below then leave it for us. We will deliver that letter the next day. We understand all your concerns, but we are humans too so don’t be offended if we want to self distance. We won’t be offended if you do as well.  The mail will still be delivered so you can count on the United States Postal Service.

  • JB March 23, 2020 (11:58 am)

    My favorite part of that mural is how it prominently features the unpainted wall on which the mural is painted.

    • ITotallyAgreeWithYou March 23, 2020 (12:34 pm)

      LOL, I never put that together! That’s hilarious! My preschool class took a field trip through that post office a long time ago so I can reminisce about a time before that mural 🤣

    • Onalki March 23, 2020 (1:23 pm)

      That’s great! Never put that together until now.

    • Maria March 23, 2020 (1:41 pm)

      Just think if the mural had the wall painted with the mural, it would have the mural within the mural within the mural within the mural within the mural ….. (Droste effect is mind blowing)

  • Gina March 23, 2020 (1:17 pm)

    Post office wall had rectangles with blue and white triangles before mural. Artist may not have wanted to add that much visual clutter.

  • savoirfaire March 23, 2020 (2:07 pm)

    While we’re at it, a huge thank-you to all the USPS staff who are keeping deliveries going. We walked past the post office on California yesterday and folks were hard at work sorting what looked like hundreds of packages…. We appreciate it!!

  • Jr March 23, 2020 (3:16 pm)

    I’m a city carrier and I can assure all of u we do the best we can and cannot control the part timers in our office but we all have families and in regards to out going mail not picked up and other issues I can say that I’m sorry because I work my butt off for my customers but when someone says they have no choice to approach a mail carrier because of out going mail maybe u should call the office and or wonder if it’s a part timer or if you really need it picked up ask the mail carrier from a distance that he forgot or made a mistake and leave it in  your mailbox and give him some distance. To many times have a seen someone run down the street to let someone know they made.a.mistake and personally hand them mail….we are all humans with families and o serve my community at my fullest but there are ways around approaching a carrier in these hard times…. Please have a little more leanyency for carriers at this time and know we cannot stay home with out families like so many have been ordered to do I work hard and I know my fellow colleagues do the same so Instead of posting a comment stating u have no choice but to approach your mail carrier maybe use some common logic and think of another way u can keep ur distance… Be safe all 

  • Al Huber March 23, 2020 (6:38 pm)

    I heard a doctor say today, “People please don’t lick your letters!”  The USPS needs to make a public service announcement about this. If it wasn’t dangerous, the doctor would have never said it. Why isn’t the USPS making the announcement?

  • Anonymous March 23, 2020 (7:05 pm)

    What about the postal employees working inside there’s no hot water in some of the washrooms where I work where’s the help at for us

  • Holly March 23, 2020 (7:28 pm)

    I put together a few pairs of gloves, a box of tissues, Cinnamon essential oil (anti viral properties), brown paper bags, a package of hand wipes and a BLACK TOURMALINE for protection.He was so appreciated and said ty many times.  I felt like it would help him as he had no protection. Mechanicville,NY

  • Matt March 23, 2020 (7:33 pm)

    I am retired letter carrier 28 years. So thankful for our mail system that delivers for America❤🇺🇸. As a veteran too like many carriers we are honored to serve the greatest people on earth. God Bless America!

  • Randy March 23, 2020 (7:55 pm)

    What about clerks that are working at the counters, they are forced to work with no social distancing.

  • Stefanie March 23, 2020 (8:16 pm)

    Mail carriers shouldn’t have to be picking up outgoing mail right now, that is putting them and others at risk.  If someone has coronavirus and their mail is contaminated the carrier picks up and then is delivering others mail …this could cause spreading very quickly! There is no way for them to wash there hands, they arent being supplied sanitizer which you cant even purchase now. And with eveyone ordering soo many packages that isnt going to help matters. Insane to say for everyone to stay in but still have mail carriers delivering. 

    • Quasimojo March 23, 2020 (9:48 pm)

      A few news articles have indicated that the virus can stay on plastic for 48 hours. Many packages are plastic and delivered within that time-frame. Other materials the virus may remain on up to 17 days. If so, we’re all screwed. 

    • Joseph Piasecki March 24, 2020 (2:24 am)

      their hands

  • Patricia March 23, 2020 (8:46 pm)

    Like the nurse and doctors the mail services are heros. They have families like us even if the situation is bad for us all, they have to work. I am pray for them and pray for the bad things to end very soon.

  • John March 24, 2020 (7:41 am)

    Thank you from Rural Carrier in Maryland 

  • Jaz Jasmine March 24, 2020 (8:43 am)

    Shout out to part time postal workers; some of you have been my favorite…so kind and thoughtful.  You are doing an awesome job and I appreciate you! :-)

  • Doug March 24, 2020 (9:34 am)

    I think the best of my mail carrier and appreciate everything they are doing! Know it’s a six day a week job I left him a case of water to bring home and he was very Grateful! 

  • Crystal March 24, 2020 (12:00 pm)

    I am a clerk and would appreciate if people coming into the post office would keep their distance from others and as well cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing. I have had so many people coughing and sneezing in me. We can only back up so far. Thanks, Thank the front line workers that have to deal with hundreds if not thousands everyday. 

    • Jason Wade March 24, 2020 (4:55 pm)

      Totally agree. 

  • Jason Wade March 24, 2020 (4:53 pm)

    I’m a retail clerk for the postal service. We to have concerns with people coming to pick up packages and mailing packages it hard to follow the six foot rule at a counter when customers are handing you packages. If you dont feel good please stay home. I dont want to get my family sick.

  • WSguy March 24, 2020 (5:34 pm)

    Noticed my postal carrier in Gatewood doesn’t wear gloves of any kind. Wish he did.

  • Linda March 24, 2020 (5:39 pm)

    Thank you for continued service. And hope more people will keep distant socializing to keep everyone healthy.

  • Pum March 24, 2020 (7:26 pm)

    Customers should understand what we go through as letter carriers. It is bothersome when customers walk up to you and start a conversation with you or ask for their mail or stick their hands in the box to grab their mail. We letter carriers are practicing distancing. To me, customers should stand back until the letter carriers leaves. 

  • Marko March 24, 2020 (8:22 pm)

    Well , the CDC will not say much I really dont understand why they can not make this a priority to actually test plastic packaging and  other items that have been infected. .Because every news station are having their own inform the public  ABOUT The COVID-19   they are having Live Q&A with Dr’s and scientist for infectious diseases and they are saying a person can contract the COVID-19 just depends on what the item is box,plastic bag etc…. and how long it stays infectious on per item..TRUTH..

  • Jill March 24, 2020 (10:52 pm)

    I’m a letter carrier. I’m trapped in large and small mail rooms. Still people brush by me, can’t wait til I’m done. Get too close and want to chat. Even if they’re wearing masks.

  • Carla March 25, 2020 (3:21 am)

    Thank you from a rural carrier in Maine!

  • michael April 13, 2020 (1:49 am)

    Thanks for your sharing! From a letter carrier in Texas.

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