Slow mail delivery? Blame the coronavirus


When Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down New York last month to essential businesses only, he didn't close off U.S. Postal Service deliveries. 

Yet, in recent days, many living within the 10463 ZIP code (and others) haven't been getting mail, or having it picked up. The culprit is probably no surprise: the coronavirus.

Some people waiting for delivery of bills, letters and medications have been left in limbo for days after the post office at 444 W. 238th St., closed without notice last week.

Marcia Yerman headed to that location on March 30, only to find the doors locked. She snapped a photo fo the door — locked and gated. Signs warned customers coming in it was only accepting payment by card — no cash — but had nothing about the fact the location was closed.

Many of those missing their mail have taken to social media to share their concerns — as well as what they say is a lack of response from the post office.  Most of the mail delivery problems include buildings within the Spuyten Duyvil and Kingsbridge neighborhoods, as well as parts of Fieldston.

A March 31 email from property managers to tenants at Century at 2600 Netherland Ave., said the building had not received mail since Saturday, March 28. According to the email, management from the Century had been in touch with the post office, and told they "do not have the personnel to deliver at this time."

In a statement, postal service officials said they have had to update their leave policies to ensure sick employees could "stay home whenever they feel sick, must provide dependent care," or any other reason that would require leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Officials also directed anyone missing mail to its USPS service alerts website to find information on facility disruptions. As of April 2, the website listed no disruptions in the northwest Bronx. 

The lag has attracted attention from local elected officials. A joint letter from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Councilman Andrew Cohen, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, asked if the West 238th branch had been closed due to health reasons, if the postal service had any protocol in place to let people know that mail delivery wasn't happening, and how it planned to protect not just employees, but those needing to use postal services. 

"We want to thank the postal service for the critical work they are doing during this crisis, and how important it is to protect postal service employees from adverse harm," according to the letter. "At the same time, our constituents depend on consistent mail service in order to receive their correspondence, bills and package(s), which may contain life-saving prescriptions."

Staffing issues at this particular post office is nothing new. Back in Summer 2018, those who frequent the location — including Yerman — complained about odd hours the post office was open, including long periods where it was closed around lunchtime. 

Part of the problem, postal officials said at the time, was that the location was too small to have employees stagger breaks. And that it was easy to not have enough workers to remain open at specific times.

"It's happened a million times," Yerman said, at the time. "The person says, 'Well, I'm on break,' and I'm usually willing to give people a break. But the place closes at 4. That (break) takes out a whole chunk of the day."

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Andrew Cuomo, coronavirus, COVID-19, Kirstyn Brendlen, Century at 2600 Netherland, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, USPS, U.S. Postal Service, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Eliot Engel, Andrew Cohen, Alessandra Biaggi,