COVID-19 cases at USPS Raleigh office may delay deliveries
Posted December 15, 2020 5:02 p.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2020 10:23 a.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — A holiday rush combined with impacts from the coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming the United States Postal Service.
WRAL learned Thursday night that several employees from the USPS Processing and Distribution Center in Raleigh tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday at the post office on Six Forks Road in Raleigh, waits were as long as one hour.
A record number of packages will be sent this holiday season as more people stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. The USPS has hired extra staff to deal with the demand, but customers may wait longer than usual at post offices or for their packages to arrive. Shipping a package? Better do it this week
On the USPS website, a message in red at the top of the page reads, "USPS is experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience and remain committed to delivering the holidays to you."
USPS officials said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the delays typically seen during the holiday season.
“It takes about a half an hour to get to the counter," said Carol Thomson, who waited in line at a post office on Wrenn Drive in Cary on Tuesday afternoon.
"The people act like they’ve never seen a post office before," agreed John Gorham.
Tuesday was the last day for ground shipping with the Postal Service, UPS and FedEx to get packages delivered by Christmas. Friday is the last day to send packages through first-class mail, and Saturday is the last day for priority mail.
Thomson said the Christmas cards she mailed 10 days ago are finally starting to arrive. “It’s definitely slower, but the good news is it’s getting there,” she said.
Others have not been so lucky, including Julia Pelillo, of Wake Forest, who received an email from the Postal Service telling her priority and first-class mail is delayed two to three weeks due to the pandemic.
“We’re moving the mail as fast and efficiently as possible," said Preston Mitchell, who has worked at the Wrenn Drive post office for more than 20 years.
Major slowdowns are rare, but people should expect some delays, Mitchell said.
“What we explain here in this office to our customers is that, because COVID-19 and safety precautions, the mail is going to run a little bit behind, just like anything else that is taking place now," he said. "We’re not in the normal circumstances.”
The agency has hired extra workers to staff up facilities to meet the demand, a spokesman said, adding that the Postal Service is committed to getting packages to their destinations on time.
Gorham said he wasn't taking any chances. He stepped out of the post office line and took his mail elsewhere to ensure his nephew’s gift arrives on time.
"I want it to get to him hopefully by Christmas, so I am taking it to a private postal service to mail it," he said.