The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) has ordered the closure of a U.S. Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center at 7550 E. 53rd Place in Denver, Colorado.
The closure order follows an investigation after the state of Colorado confirmed five employees tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility. Apparently, the DDPHE suspects there may be more cases according to reports from local media.
The USPS distribution center employs 1,800 and processes all mail for Colorado and Wyoming.
“Minimal observations were made during the site visit conducted 5/20/2020 at 12:30 p.m. due to the refusal of information and access to the facility. The area the investigators were able to make observations from was a small public-facing space in comparison to the entire distribution warehouse buildings. In the general public post station with three employees assisting customers with proper face coverings and plastic curtains separating each employee check-out station.”
“The challenge that we’re facing right now is we don’t have a great connection with local contacts for USPS, and so we’re not able to collect all the information that we need, and so in a situation like that we would temporarily close the facility until we are able to get all the information and implement controls that we need to.”
“In terms of how disease needs to be controlled in a facility, it doesn’t matter if it’s a federal facility or a local business, we need to get the same type of information and implement the same types of controls to keep employees and the public safe.”
Danica Lee, Director of Public Health Inspections with DDPHE as quoted by 9News in Denver.
USPS Denies DDPHE Allegations (Updated 5/23)
On Friday, the DDPHE claimed one person from the facility that came down with COVID-19 virus had died, but the U.S. Postal Service in Colorado denied this claim.
KMGH-TV (Denver ABC affiliate) reporter Russel Haythorne tweeted this on Friday quoting David Rupert, USPS spokesperson.
#UPDATE: @USPS denies claim by Denver Dept. of Public Health that one of the five COVID cases at Denver mail distribution center was a death. “There have been no deaths related to COVID-19 at this facility.” -David Rupert, spokesman, USPS.
— Russell Haythorn (@RussellHaythorn) May 22, 2020
And USPS Colorado on its Twitter account also stated it was still fully operational.
We are still functioning, processing and delivering mail. The Denver mail processing plant is open as we continue to work with local health and safety officials. Thx @RussellHaythorn for interview pic.twitter.com/LxgbN2pvYy
— USPS Colorado (@USPS_Colorado) May 22, 2020
Closure Would Impact Mail Service in Colorado and Wyoming
If the DDPHE is able to enforce the closure order, it would impact inbound and outbound mail service to all addresses in Colorado and Wyoming.
At present, there appears to be a stand-off between the postal service and DDPHE. Thursday night, the twitter account for USPS Colorado tweeted the following message:
The Denver Distribution Center remains open as we sort 10 million pieces of mail a day for every person in CO and WY including medications, stimulus checks, and election materials. We are meeting all CDC and federal guidelines for COVID-19. USPS is an Essential Service.
— USPS Colorado (@USPS_Colorado) May 21, 2020
The U.S. Postal Service has not included this facility in its list of distribution and retail centers that are closed due to coronavirus or other issues.
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