By Kevin Deutsch
The coronavirus crisis is causing significant delays to mail deliveries in parts of the Bronx, with the Kingsbridge branch among those hit hard by USPS staff shortages, Bronx Justice News has learned.
The federal agency has struggled to keep pace with mail volume amid New York City’s COVID-19 outbreak, with multiple postal workers becoming infected and one Bronx mail carrier having succumbed to the disease.
Half the local USPS workforce in Kingsbridge, or more, has been absent each day amid the crisis, as staffers deal with quarantine and health care issues, child and elder care, pre-scheduled holiday time off, and other challenges, a USPS spokeswoman said.
Some local neighborhoods are not getting daily USPS deliveries, and it is not clear when staffing or mail assignments will return to pre-outbreak levels.
“We are an essential business, but our employees are still your neighbors, and as such they experience the same stressors and pressures” from the coronavirus outbreak, spokeswoman Maureen Marion told Bronx Justice News in an interview Thursday.
“We are seeing some significant issues with employee availabity for a variety of all the reasons that make sense,” Marion said. “We are seeing in some cases – and Kingsbridge is one of them – where the attendance is an everyday challenge. If somebody feels like they have symptoms, we don’t want them at work.”
“We knew that attendance was going to be a problem, and it remains a problem,” Marion continued. “We can’t do 100 percent of work with 45 or 50 percent of our staff.”
The mail sorters, drivers, and carriers on the job in Kingsbridge are working longer days and stepping up productivity in order to clear the local backlog, officials said, as resources are juggled between city USPS branches.
The federal agency — which was facing a budget crisis even before the outbreak — is trying to do more with the staffers still reporting for duty.
“While we are seeing 40, 50 percent attendance, these folks are working so hard, they’re delivering up to 70 percent of mail,” Marion said.
But, she acknowledged, “We have had disruptions of mail for some length of time.”
Marion said complaints from residents who have reported going without any mail delivery for more than a week in the Kingsbridge/Riverdale area “don’t jive with the work assignments” in that community.
“This is not business as usual, but the people who are doing the business are doing an exceptional job,” Marion said.