USPS tests temperature check ‘proof of concept’ for postal employees

The Postal Service is testing a daily temperature check “proof of concept” in Northern Virginia and Oklahoma City for employees reporting for work and returning from quarantine.

More than 5,000 postal employees are under quarantine, and 12,000 previously quarantined employees have returned to work. At least 60 postal employees have died from the coronavirus.

National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando told members last week the temperature checks taken are voluntary, and are taken from a camera or scanner from a distance.

If an employee has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, Rolando said they employee will be told privately, sent home and paid either emergency paid sick leave or administrative leave until the fever subsides.

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National Postal Mail Handlers Union President Paul Hogrogian told members last Friday that “as more and more postal employees are returning to work, more protections need to be put in place.”

USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer told Federal News Network that the agency has been analyzing whether some of its work procedures may have to change while the pandemic persists.

“This includes evaluating potential new processes and procedures in order to continue protecting the health and safety of our employees and customers,” he said.

Mnuchin: USPS ‘doesn’t need’ to use $10B loan

Citing an increase in the Postal Service’s package delivery business during the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said USPS has enough revenue to keep operating without an immediate need for a $10 billion loan guaranteed under the CARES Act.

“The good news is, as of now, the package deliveries are up over 50% to offset the mail,” Mnuchin said Thursday during a live-streamed event hosted by The Hill. “As of now, they don’t need to use the loan.”

However, USPS earlier this month warned that a temporary surge in package revenue would not be enough to make up for accelerated declines in mail volume. The agency saw its shipping and package revenue increase 7%, but it also expects package volume to plateau later in the pandemic.

President Donald Trump earlier this month warned that his administration won’t approve the $10 billion CARES Act loan unless USPS first agrees to raise its package and shipping rates by “approximately four times” for e-commerce companies like Amazon.

Mnuchin clarified that the president has specifically asked that the Postal Service increased its rates for overnight delivery for e-commerce companies.

“Right now, the post office is doing an amazing job delivering things to people as they’re at home, we just want to make sure that the post office is paid fairly and isn’t subsidizing that business,” Mnuchin said.

USPS remains $11 billion in debt to the Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank and is its biggest creditor. Mnuchin said the agency’s long-term financial problems led the Trump administration to launch a postal task force to recommend structural reforms.

The task force recommended putting the USPS Board of Governors in charge of making long-term business decisions for the agency, but the board may soon lose its quorum if the board doesn’t find a replacement for Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman, who is stepping down from his position on June 1.

Lawmaker asks IG to review USPS leadership shakeup

Stroman announced his departure shortly after the board announced logistics executive Louis DeJoy as its pick for postmaster general and following the resignation for David Williams, the former vice president of the board.

Citing reports that Williams left the board over the administration’s intervention in the Postal Service’s operations, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) has asked the USPS inspector general to review whether “undue political interference” played a role in this leadership shakeup.

Pascrell also raises concerns about the Postal Service’s solvency at a time when the agency is delivering 2020 Census forms and will deliver vote-by-mail ballots in upcoming primary and general elections.

“Recent actions raise serious questions about the commitment of the Trump administration to provide reliable postal service in the United States,” he wrote.

While Stroman worked with state and local officials to oversee the expansion of vote by mail, the Postal Service has no direct role in whether a state changes their vote-by-mail laws or increases their absentee voting.

National Association of Presort Mailers President Rich Gebbie, also the CEO of Midwest Direct, a ballot printing and mailing company, said 2020 is expected to be a record year for vote-by-mail, but said states could run into capacity issues.

“There are a finite number of printers/mailers that are set up to handle ballots (which require a great deal of security, accountability and integrity as well as investment in special equipment) and while some can increase capacity, they would only purchase additional equipment to do so when they have orders in place from a state,” Gebbie wrote in an email to Federal News Network.