Safety first

The Postal Service is sharing guidance from public health organizations and other authorities that have stated there’s no evidence the coronavirus is spread through the mail.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, and there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 with package shipments.

“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” CDC states on its website.

In a frequently asked questions section on its website, the World Health Organization (WHO) addresses concerns about the safety of receiving packages from areas where COVID-19 has been reported.

“The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low,” WHO states.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams has also weighed in. “There is no evidence right now that the coronavirus can be spread through mail,” he said recently.

Additionally, during a television interview last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke about the likelihood of the coronavirus being transmitted through things like mail and package delivery.

“I don’t think we need to get completely obsessed about packages that come in because those types of surfaces — the virus might live there for a very short time,” Fauci said. “But people say, ‘Should I get a package from a grocery store that says made in China?’ I wouldn’t worry about that. That’s not the issue.”

Strictly confidential

The Postal Service wants employees to know that the organization keeps their health information confidential. This includes employees who contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Rehabilitation Act and the Privacy Act, two federal laws, require agencies to keep specific employee medical information confidential and to share it only in very limited circumstances with individuals legally entitled to know.

USPS will inform employees if someone in their workplace is confirmed to have COVID-19, but the organization will not identify the individual by name.

The Postal Service also works closely with local public health departments and the organization’s own occupational health nurse administrators to identify anyone who has been in close contact with the individual to help them assess their health risk.

Otherwise, USPS cannot share with employees the name or medical condition of any employee, including those who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Postal Service is providing this information to employees through stand-up talks and reminding workers that the best defense against COVID-19 and other illnesses is good personal hygiene, including washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

The COVID-19 Blue and LiteBlue pages have additional resources for employees.

Beautiful and strange

The Postal Service shares highlights from the recent Wild Orchids stamp dedication ceremony in a new video.

“Orchids are beautiful but strange critters,” Jim Fowler, the photographer whose images appear on the stamps, says in the video, explaining how some orchids require fungi to germinate.

Part of the largest family of plants on Earth, wild orchids grow in many climates under a variety of conditions.

The stamps feature images of several species and are available in booklets of 20 and coils of 3,000 and 10,000.

The ceremony was held Feb. 21 in Coral Gables, FL.

News Briefs

Employee honored

Purchasing power. The General Services Administration (GSA) recently recognized Nancy Croteau-Westcott, a purchase card coordinator in the Postal Service’s Purchasing Shared Service Center, for her efforts to help USPS save money.

During the previous fiscal year, the Postal Service had 323 purchase card convenience check accounts and issued more than 950 checks to suppliers, resulting in $5,397 in check fees.

Croteau-Westcott worked with USPS suppliers to increase the acceptance of purchase cards, which reduced the number of purchase card convenience check accounts to six.

“Nancy’s commitment to helping USPS reduce its convenience check usage has resulted in significant cost savings and better card management practices,” said Erin VanDagna, branch chief of GSA’s Center for Charge Card Management.

Croteau-Westcott, who serves as the primary agency program coordinator for the USPS Purchase Card Program, was featured in the spring edition of GSA’s SmartPay 3 News Bulletin.

Pacific press. The Postal Service recently mailed Pacific Area Update’s latest issue to employees in the area.

This edition, which is also available on Blue and LiteBlue, features articles about employee sales leads, workplace engagement programs and more.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.