People patronize the Everett Post Office on Thursday afternoon. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

People patronize the Everett Post Office on Thursday afternoon. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

2 Everett postal workers have tested positive for COVID-19

There’s no evidence the virus can spread through the mail. But delivery services are taking precautions.

EVERETT — Two U.S. Postal Service employees based at the service’s Everett hub have tested positive for COVID-19.

The post office at 8120 Hardeson Road serves as a base for area mail carriers, and it includes a retail store.

“Both of these (positive tests) occurred in March and both employees are at home recovering,” regional postal service spokesman Ernie Swanson said this week. “The areas in which they work have been sanitized and cleaned and are still operational.”

Swanson was unable to provide further details about the employees or their positions, citing federal privacy rules.

USPS has published a statement on its website saying, “There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail,” citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Office of the Surgeon General.

The CDC’s recommended practices have changed throughout the pandemic as more is learned about the virus. The USPS statement was first posted on March 23 and was a part of the service’s COVID-19 update Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the USPS says it has taken steps to protect the public and its employees. Safeguards include providing employees masks, gloves and sanitizing products; implementing social distancing guidelines for both employees and customers; updating cleaning policies to be consistent with CDC guidelines; and amending sick leave policies.

“We’ve made rubber gloves and hand sanitizer available for our employees if they want it,” Swanson said. “But in terms of anything special when we deliver the mail, we’re not doing anything different because the CDC and other health agencies have said there is a very low possibility of getting the coronavirus through mail of any kind.”

Swanson said the state has not seen an effect on delivery efficiency because of COVID-19. He said parcel volume is up about 35% to 40% because people are ordering goods online instead of shopping in person, but the amount of paper mail has decreased.

Swanson emphasized that USPS is asking people not to approach carriers when they are on their rounds, either when they are at their vehicle or placing mail in mailboxes.

USPS isn’t the only delivery service in the area where an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. Amazon confirmed Sunday that an employee at its Everett distribution center contracted the virus.

Amid the pandemic, Amazon says it has given employees disinfecting wipes to clean all frequently touched surfaces in vehicles and other work equipment. Drivers have been instructed to refrain from shaking hands or having physical contact with customers, as well as keeping a distance from customers at all times. The CDC recommends people should stay at least 6 feet apart in public.

The online sales giant announced hundreds of thousands of employees at Amazon and Whole Foods would soon undergo temperature checks at the start of each shift. Based on CDC recommendations, anyone with a fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit must go home until all symptoms have subsided for at least three days.

Other delivery services, such as FedEx and United Parcel Service, also say they have updated their practices to address COVID-19.

Nick Patterson: 425-339-3470; Twitter: @NickHPatterson

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