Colorado: The Denver Health Department issued an order to shut down at least two USPS locations. One of the specific Post Offices in question, the Denver Distribution Center, sorts the mail for all of Colorado and Wyoming, which would have left 6.5 million people in those two states without their mail. The Denver Distribution Center handles 10 million pieces of mail per day. USPS is listed as an essential business. The Postal Service refused to close.
The Denver Health Dept must think they’re in charge of the US government. They also attempted to close the USPS near the University of Denver. That office is also listed as essential, so remained open in spite of the order to close.
The Denver Distribution Center remains open as we sort 10 million pieces of mail a day for every person in CO and WY including medications, stimulus checks, and election materials. We are meeting all CDC and federal guidelines for COVID-19. USPS is an Essential Service.
— USPS Colorado (@USPS_Colorado) May 21, 2020
The Denver Health Dept said that there were 5 cases of COVID-19 and one death at a USPS facility. They complained they they were not allowed access to the distribution center and only saw three employees, all of whom had proper PPE.
“It certainly is not our intent to halt the delivery of mail or shut down an essential federal facility. This was a measure of last resort, and the only remaining tool we have to get the facility management’s attention and secure public health compliance during a pandemic.” Denver Health Dept
So they did it to get the facility’s attention? Threatening to close an essential business – and a federal one at that – is over the top.
The Denver Distribution Center was ordered to “close immediately” until they follow the guidelines, and was told they couldn’t open without approval from the Denver Health Dept. (DDPHE). News9 reported the criteria for compliance as:
- The facility receives a complete disinfection of all surfaces with an approved COVID-19
- COVID-19 control measures are implemented
- Control plans and procedures for how facility will implement with the COVID-19 control
measures and comply
- Screening employees at the start and end of each shift
- Temperature checks
- Employees reporting illness be sent home immediately
- Required face coverings
- Monitor all employees for symptoms and good hygienic practices
- Prevent symptomatic employees from working until they are fever-free for 72 hours and 10 days have passed since first symptom
- Disinfect the entire facility
- Provide a list of confirmed cases within 24 hours and every Monday by noon until DDPHE no longer requests list
The Denver Distribution Center remains open. It’s listed as essential under federal law. The facility is the 4th largest distribution center in the United States. People depend on their mail for checks, medications, notifications, bills that must be paid, etc. The Denver Health Dept has yet to determine where their authority stands in regard to the federal government.
James Boxrud, spokesman for USPS in the West, gave this statement, according to Fox31 Denver:
“The Denver Processing and Distribution Center is federally owned and operated and is committed to all federal and CDC directives and safeguards in regards to COVID-19 protection. We strongly disagree with the Denver Public Health order, which was made without a visual verification, without advanced coordination with the team of postal employees working on these issues with Denver Public Health, and without the understanding of the Postal Service’s substantial, ongoing efforts to protect its employees and the public.
This closure notice, citing no adverse findings, has the potential to impact stimulus checks, prescription medications, personal correspondence, and vital goods delivered to the more than 6.5 million customers who live in Colorado and Wyoming.
We have provided Denver Public Health the necessary documentation to satisfy their inquiry and are confident the order will be rescinded.”
According to the Fox article, the Denver Health Dept and USPS representatives met on Friday. They all said the meeting went “well,” and said they’d work “together” to combat COVID-19.
Featured photo: Screenshot via Fox31 video