COVID-19, News

A Raleigh postal worker tested positive for COVID-19; experts say risk posed by mail is very low

The U.S. Postal Service confirmed Tuesday that an employee at the Capital Station Post Office on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh recently tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Few details about the infection were provided by postal officials in an emailed response to Policy Watch questions, so it was unclear whether the infected employee had contact with postal service customers.

It was also unclear how long the employee worked at the Capital Station location before the positive test, or whether other employees there have been tested.

“At this time, we believe exposure risk for other employees at the Capital Station facility is low, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health department official,” Philip Bogenberger, the Charlotte-based spokesman for the Postal Service who confirmed the positive test.

Bogenberger noted that the CDC and the World Health Organization have indicated there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through mail. He said that position is supported by the U.S. Surgeon General and the Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

After the positive test, Bogenberger said Capital Station was disinfected using “current cleaning protocols.” Capital Station is closed on Sundays.

“The safety and well-being of our employees is one of our highest priorities,” Bogenberger said. “To ensure the health of our employees, we are continuing to follow recommended strategies from the CDC and local health departments. We also continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on a nationwide basis.”

An area postal worker contacted Policy Watch this week to express concern that postal officials in some locations are not providing employees with gloves, masks or wipes to ensure they are safe at work.

“We were told that upper management was not going to provide us with those things,” the postal worker said.

Policy Watch agreed not to identify the worker who feared retaliation for speaking to the media.

Bogenberger responded “no” when asked if the claim about the postal service not providing gloves, masks and wipes is true.

The worker said she felt compelled to speak out because delivery workers are being overlooked.

“Nobody is speaking about the public service workers,” the worker said. ‘Postal, UPS, FedEx and all other delivery employees do not know if the person sending or receiving mail or packages has the virus or any other contagious disease.”

The same worker told Policy Watch about the infected postal worker at Capital Station.

A number of major news outlets, including the Washington Post and Raleigh’s News & Observer have reported in recent days that the risk of the virus being spread through mail is extremely low. The following is from a March 17 report in the N&O entitled “Can you get coronavirus from the mail? Here’s what health experts say about the risk”:

It’s highly unlikely a package from an area with coronavirus will infect a person, according to the World Health Organization.

“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, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low,” according to the WHO.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees the risk is low. CDC experts cite experience from the SARS and MERS viral outbreaks to guide their recommendation.

“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,” according to the CDC.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said any presence of the virus on mail likely is in a low concentration during a CNN townhall about coronavirus.

“Even if it is on there, would it be high enough of a concentration to actually be transmitted? Although it is important, I don’t want to downplay the recommendations of wiping down the kinds of things you can easily wipe down,” Fauci said.

17 Comments


  1. Tootie

    March 18, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    Its true. No gloves. No hand sanitizer.no masks. No Lysol. No bleach or Clorox wipes. No training on covid 19 no extra cleaning. HR can tell you nothing. Customers are having to touch the RSS machine several times to answer questions about packages and addresses with out cleaning.

  2. Jay

    March 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    What about mail transport equipment? Plastic tubs, trays, hampers, mail cages? Amazon plastic shrink wrap or the large plastic “skids” the parcels arrive on? How often are those surfaces cleaned? Mail never arrives loose, but in containers.

  3. Johnny Johnson

    March 18, 2020 at 8:23 pm

    Nope nothing as talked about in video we watched we have nothing!!
    NO GLOVES IN ANY SIZE XL, L, M, S, or XS

    NO MASK

    WE NEED THESE THINGS !! THE VIRUS CAN LIVE ON CARDBOARD FOR 72hrs WE NEED PROTECTION TOO, WE DONT PENCIL PUSH OR CLICK SMD SEND BEHIND A DESK !!!

  4. k super

    March 18, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    work in a nj post office NO sanitizer they do not care

  5. Rich

    March 19, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    I work in Florida . They haven’t provided anything . The day after the CDC recommends no social gatherings of 50 people we do a stand up talk (80people) . They could care less . And if does stay on the mail or packages , nobody will say anything . All about money . Would cost way to much money to pay workers to be home .

  6. Norene williams

    March 19, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    Plan get mail with glove from mailbox, wash hands well and leave on screen porch a couple days

  7. Postal worker

    March 19, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    In Eastern North Carolina they have gloves for us but many are breaking out in rashes from them. No hand sanitizer. No masks, No temperatures taken. I believe it can live on mail, cardboard ,plastic and all other surfaces of the post office just as anywhere else other people are contracting it from! ANY SURFACE!! I have been sick for a week the regular I sub for has called out for over a week but I still have to come in sick to cover her route. I have called hospital that directs me to health department that never answers, then wants to call when I’m at work! No phones at work they say!! Our supervisor is having our office and cases cleaned with bleach and Lysol daily, he tells us, while we’re out delivering. I want to work, I do not want to not be able to pay my bills and provide for my family, I think they should really stop all out of country parcels and mail and definitely not continue to make us deliver them. I deliver many china and out of country parcels daily! They will not put a stop to it! If no boarders are open for people to cross then why are they still allowing mail and parcels to come into our country?!

  8. Postalgal

    March 19, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    What about the customer running down the driveway while licking their letter to seal and then handing it to you to mail. That mail has not had the time for the virus to die off, yet we are required to take it and expose ourselves to their germs.

  9. Female Carrier

    March 19, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    They do not care about their employees. They tell us to wash our hands often, yet be back by 5! We deliver mail out of our cars how are we to wash our hands often?! If we try we will not be back by 5! No sanitizer. No Lysol. No hand wipes. Thousands of parcels each day many wrapped in plastics from China. Its only a matter of time before we are ALL sick. We do not have the room in our offices to keep 6 ft between us. Its a damn joke!!!!!!

  10. Freeman

    March 19, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Fl postal worker. No to all the above. Nothing different has been said or done.

  11. Indiana Carrier

    March 20, 2020 at 10:39 am

    We are at high risk of catching and spreading this virus. We work in large groups were social distancing is not happening. No we have no sanitizer, wipes or gloves. Being one of the largest employers in the country and constant exposer to each other and then to local stores after work. I think the postal workers are going to take a big hit. Upper management keeps saying low risk of catching through the mail but what through each other?

  12. Carrier

    March 20, 2020 at 11:30 am

    No one’s talking about the fact that it can live on a propylene mailbox for 16 hours or that we touch every box and dont have time for the non-existent hand sanitizer in between. We serve over 500 households daily, so one sick carrier could really impact a community

  13. Nifty

    March 20, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    I work inside. Nothing is cleaned. We are overworked and expected to keep up a pace that’s near impossible.

  14. cajm

    March 21, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    I think this has to go public. Maybe, something will be done then. Obviously, it is the same all over in the Post Office. We have the same problems herein northwest NJ. The only reason we finaly got some packages of gloves, is because I told our PO he needed to make an executive decision and use the corporate card to purchase gloves, cleanser, etc until supplies ordered come in. We only have enough gloves for window clerks, and not for carriers. Also, carriers should have hand sanitizer and chlorox wipes in each truck/route. We need to put an moratorium on customers touching screens. We can do it on our side with gloves for time being, as we would have control.I purchased my own wipes, etc, but the Post Office should be doing this for all. If we are necessary workers, we require the necessary items to keep us safe.

  15. Tim McDonald

    March 26, 2020 at 10:04 am

    gloves are provided but when they run out doubt there will be any more . we were given a hand out sheet on covid 19, and finally after our union pressured them to give a restricted signature protocol that they had been told to enact ?they do not care I requested that hand towels be hung in dispenser instead of laying them on table for all to handle when washing hands. nothing you suggest will they do it cuts into their budget . they only care about the numbers. I took myself out of work because they were letting employees from areas where it was rampant enter our facility. I am at high risk because of my lungs, burning up my leave. THEY DO NOT CARE…OUR WORK PLACES ARE FILTHY, POOR AIR VENTILATION ETC .THESE NEED TO BE ADDRESSED .

  16. Donna Vernarsky

    March 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    I work in Michigan, Lake Orion Post Office. I am a rural carrier currently on limited duty, with that being said I am currently required to stay in office. I have just learned this morning at approx.9am., we have a sub.-carrier who’s partner that has tested positive for the covid19 virus. When asked what the next step was to follow I was told we were over reacting. That this carrier is a quiet, to-yourself kind of person. That has no baring on the spread of the virus!

    Yes they have been cleaning since the beginning of the week, not to much prior to that. No gloves or masks supplied nor is the hand sanitizer to be found. And if there is it has been kept under lock and key.

    They feel that just because they’re wiping down surfaces does not protect from the germs that could still be passed by sharing the same postal vehicles, touching handles,pens, paper-towel dispensers, drawer handles and all the other small intricacies that are missed. Or touched in the afternoon when the janitor has left for the day.

    Management show no concern except for not wanting to end up on “A LIST” (an inter-office reckoning) !!!

  17. Angela Norris

    March 27, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    My son works for the USPS in DFW area and he is not being provided masks, gloves or hand sanitizer! Luckily we have both available at home because we use them for certain household tasks. We will run out eventually and then what? I worry about him working in this environment and then coming home.

    This situation is serious and the CDC has no clue how this spreads, they have made that clear.

    There is no concern for any of the “essential workers!”

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