How and why is the USPS still running during the pandemic?

Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for an Echo Show 5. Today we will answer the following question: “how and why is the USPS still running during the pandemic?”

Why is the USPS still running?

“The postman always delivers.” This phrase has been in use for a very long time and it’s so true. Trying to stop US Postal Service is like trying to stop a train. It doesn’t matter if FedEx and UPS do similar work. When the government shuts down, the post office doesn’t. USPS delivers in the sunshine, rain, snow, and hail. It doesn’t even matter that the USPS runs at a loss.

It’s tempting to ask why that is. The answers are myriad:

  • The USPS delivers medicine to housebound patients.
  • It helps support rural areas all over the country.
  • Their “universal service obligation” means it doesn’t matter how far out in the US you are – they will deliver. You can live in Barrow, Alaska, Pago Pago, or on a US aircraft carrier, and rest assured, you will get your mail.

Honestly, with all this in mind, we think they’re actually a bit underrated! They handle a lot of thankless functions that the private sector doesn’t consider.

How is the USPS still running?

No matter how bad things get, the USPS pretty much always runs. During the federal government shutdown in 2019, the post office ran on sales revenue without so much as an interruption to their service.

Then 2020 entered the chat. On March 6, the USPS released its pandemic policy. The USPS already plans for pandemic influenza outbreaks, and the precautions necessary to prevent coronavirus are similar to those used in the event of pandemic influenza. (Though it should be noted that COVID-19 is considerably more severe than any strain of influenza that we’ve seen since 1918.)

The point of all this is that the USPS, knowing its importance to the nation, has plans to operate even under the worst conditions. With the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, here is how they are continuing to operate:

  • The USPS is classified as an essential government service and therefore remains operational under shelter-in-place orders.
  • Employees are advised to practice good hygiene and stay home if ill.
  • They have modified signature capture procedures to eliminate physical contact.
  • Employees are advised to practice social distancing when making in-person deliveries.

In short, the USPS is operating based on all the available information on how essential businesses should be running right now. It should also be noted that the WHO and CDC have both advised that “there is no evidence the virus is spreading through the mail” and that “the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low.”

(Even still, we at Fulfillrite advise you to wash your hands after handling packages that have been delivered to your door. If by some extraordinarily slim chance that the novel coronavirus gets on your hands through the mail, soap and water will tear it apart on a molecular level.)

Final Thoughts

The USPS basically always runs. The government considers it to be a vital service and they have robust business continuity plans to keep them going even if the state of the world seems dire.

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