Dr. Elaine Ferguson remembers the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

In late February, headlines everywhere were dominated by the outbreak in Seattle, the first hot spot in the United States. Ferguson, the Postal Service’s associate medical director, was monitoring the situation closely.

She wasn’t alone.

“We had a lot of concerned employees. There were still a lot of unknowns back then, and that caused some fear and anxiety,” she said.

Together with other members of the organization’s COVID-19 working group, Ferguson — who is one of the Postal Service’s top medical experts — helped deliver accurate information to employees.

The team, made up of leaders throughout USPS, oversaw the creation and distribution of videos, posters, stand-up talks and other materials that helped workers understand the risks and how to protect themselves.

With the support of 100 postal occupational health nurses across the nation, the working group has also provided support to employees who have tested positive.

“The organization follows the blueprint, which involves contact tracing, cleaning facilities, appropriately notifying and educating employees, responding to union concerns and responses to the media. It’s a comprehensive plan,” Ferguson said.

Simon Storey, the Postal Service’s employee resource management vice president, credits Ferguson and the organization’s other medical professionals with helping USPS to look out for its workforce during a challenging time.

“Dr. Ferguson is an important member of our team. We value her medical expertise, which has helped us immeasurably as we work to respond to the pandemic,” he said.

Ferguson joined the Postal Service 16 years ago after working in the private sector. She has been instrumental in establishing the organization’s safety protocols in the aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, as well as several other viral outbreaks.

“We’ve gone through H1N1, swine flu, bird flu, the Zika virus and Ebola. So the Postal Service has dealt with outbreaks before and actively responded to them,” she said.

While it is likely the coronavirus will continue to be part of everyday life for some time, protecting employees will remain a top priority, Ferguson said.

“Employees are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. I’m proud to be part of this work to ensure the safety of our employees,” she said.

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Plymouth landing

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, a stamp honoring the 400th anniversary of a journey that has echoed throughout U.S. history, will arrive in Post Offices on Thursday, Sept. 17.

On Dec. 16, 1620, 102 English passengers — referred to as Puritan Separatists — boarded the Mayflower in Plymouth, England, to take what became a perilous, stormy voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to America, the New World.

After almost 10 grueling weeks at sea, the Mayflower finally anchored in what is known today as Plymouth, MA.

Passengers, who would become known to us as Pilgrims, established a settlement, Plymouth Colony.

Unprepared for the harsh conditions and racked by disease, the Pilgrims might not have survived their first year without the help and advice of Native Americans called the Wampanoag, which means People of the First Light.

More than 40,000 Wampanoag were living in the New England area at the time.

With the Wampanoag, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the fall of 1621.

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag ultimately forged an alliance that maintained relative peace for more than 50 years.

Greg Harlin illustrated the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor stamp, which will be available in panes of 20 at Post Offices and

He used a combination of watercolor, gouache and acrylics, with some digital refining to convey a scene of desolate beauty at the end of the Pilgrims’ harrowing journey to an unfamiliar world.

The stamp was designed by Greg Breeding, a USPS art director.

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Staying safe

The Postal Service is reminding employees to be cautious of wildfires like those occurring this month in California, Oregon and Washington.

Wildfires — which can happen anywhere, anytime — often are sparked by human activity or lightning strikes. They can spread quickly, particularly in areas experiencing hot weather conditions, high winds and little rain.

To protect yourself, the Postal Service wants you to take the following steps:

  • Sign up for your community’s warning system
  • Know your community’s evacuation plans
  • Build an emergency kit that you can use during an immediate evacuation
  • Keep important documents in a fireproof, safe place
  • Practice your family communications plan
  • Plan for special needs during an evacuation, such as medicines and pet care

The USPS National Preparedness website has additional information, including wildfire emergency response checklists for mail processing facilities and district and area offices. also has recommendations.

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‘Fighting Inflammation Naturally’

Postal Service employees can participate in an upcoming webinar to learn how to deal with inflammation, a sign that your body is fighting harmful conditions.

The session, “Fighting Inflammation Naturally,” will be held Tuesday, Sept. 22, at noon EDT.

Coletta Meyer, a health and wellness manager for GEHA, a not-for-profit provider of health plans for federal employees, and Kristen McGill, a nutritionist for the Giant supermarket chain, will conduct the webinar and discuss incorporating healthy foods with an anti-inflammatory diet to keep you feeling your best.

Employees interested in participating should use the Google Chrome browser to register on the webinar website. After signing up, directions on accessing the webinar will be emailed to each registrant.

Following the webinar, every registrant will receive an email with a link to an archived recording of the webinar along with the slides.

Participation is voluntary. Nonexempt employees may only participate off the clock or during authorized breaks.

For more information, email the USPS Health and Wellness team.

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News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

Scanning snapshot. A snapshot of Postal Service scanning data shows the national rating was 97.02 percent during the week ending Sept. 11, down 0.09 percent from one week earlier.

The data was collected Sept. 16.

Central led the four areas with a rating of 97.26 percent, followed by Atlantic (97.06 percent), Western-Pacific (96.98 percent) and Southern (96.86 percent).

Among the 67 districts, Dakotas, part of Western-Pacific Area, ranked first with a rating of 98.72 percent, while Colorado-Wyoming, also part of Western-Pacific, ranked last with a 92.73 percent rating.

Scanning data allows customers to track their mail and packages, which helps USPS deliver excellent service, boost loyalty and drive revenue.

To see the latest data, go to the Informed Visibility website and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.”

Energize! Postal Bulletin’s Sept. 10 issue features a preview of Energy Awareness Month, which USPS observes each October.

The publication also includes the latest updates to postal policies, procedures and forms.

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