Employee availability due to virus affecting Tahoe mail delivery

Cheyanne Neuffer

Lake Tahoe residents are used to delays receiving mail due to big snowstorms that impact roads in the basin. However, this year snow isn’t the only thing impacting when residents receive their mail.

One resident told the Tribune that she had not received her normal scheduled mail in over a week and a half and that local offices are not addressing the situation.

A bold red headliner on the United States Postal Service’s website states that they are experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability.

While COVID-19 has impacted the postal service as a whole, South Lake Tahoe is feeling the impacts as well.

“COVID-19 continues to have a presence across the nation, including at our South Lake Tahoe office which is affecting our employee availability,” Rod Spurgeon, USPS communications representative said in an email.

Nationwide, USPS’s on-time delivery rate sharply plummeted this summer in July according to their service performance records, but it rebounded by late-August.

A statement released back in August by USPS said the delays were due to a combination of factors including COVID-19, natural disasters and unforeseen circumstances.

From the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 to the fourth quarter, on-time performance dropped approximately 3% in three-to-five day delivery for both single-piece first class mail and presort first class mail in the Sierra Nevada geographical region.

Spurgeon said that employee availability was the prime factor in South Lake Tahoe’s mail delivery delays.

“Limited employee availability in South Lake Tahoe is due to employees who either have COVID-19 or has had close contact with someone who has COVID-19,” he said.

Spurgeon said that they will be bringing in extra personnel from surrounding areas to assist with operations.

If any residents are dealing with delivery issues, Spurgeon recommends that the best way to sort an issue is reaching out to 1-800-ASK-USPS to discuss service concerns with their team while documenting the situation.

“We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage anyone with a postal issue to call our customer care line,” he said. “Every customer experience and every piece of mail is important to the Postal Service.”

He says that USPS is continuing to follow recommended guidance and strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including ensuring social distancing and risk minimization.

Measures have also been implemented at local offices and mail processing facilities to ensure social distancing, including through signage, floor tape, and “cough/sneeze” barriers.

Delivery procedures have been changed to eliminate the requirement that customers sign our mobile delivery devices for delivery.

Public and non-public facing Postal Service employees are required to wear face coverings while at work, when proper social distancing cannot be achieved or maintained. USPS has also updated cleaning measures consistent with CDC guidelines.

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