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‘Keeping America Moving’

‘Social Distancing’ Achieved At Bemus Point Post Office

Pictured are Cindy Knowlton, left, and Sue Crandall of the Bemus Point Post Office behind a new partition, designed to keep customers and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Jim Wehrfritz

BEMUS POINT — Among the millions of indispensable workers dedicating their efforts to keep America up and running during the coronavirus outbreak are the employees of the U.S. Postal Service.

All across the country, postal workers are implementing public health solutions while staying committed to the job at hand-delivering mail and packages.

“I think postal employees truly feel like they are an essential part of keeping America moving,” said Karen Mazurkiewicz, USPS spokesperson for the Western New York and Central Pennsylvania Districts. “I think there is pride in that, but there is also awareness of, ‘OK this is what we have to do to keep all of us safe.’ Everybody is doing their best and we are so blessed to have such wonderful employees and such wonderful customers.”

The USPS has advised all branches and employees to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but is allowing them flexibility to find solutions at specific offices and locations.

“What we are doing is trying to work with the local post offices, as best they can to do (precautions) themselves. But in places where they need assistance, everybody’s reaching out to everybody else to say ‘We found material here, you can do (a barrier) this way,’ to try to make it work in all those different sized places,” Mazurkiewicz said. “We have some barriers and some signage in our postal retail units to promote social distancing and to keep our customers and our employees safe. So what you are starting to see is plexiglass, sometimes plastic curtains. Different offices are using different means, but essentially we are trying to promote everyone staying safe, but still being able to use their post office.”

AP photo

In Bemus Point, staff chose to install a clear partition as a barrier to prevent potential transmission of the coronavirus between the staff and customers.

Mazurkiewicz serves as a spokesperson for approximately 420 stations and branches, including those in Jamestown, Elmira, Buffalo and Rochester. Solutions like the one now in place in Bemus Point are cropping up all across the district. National changes also include a shift away from signatures for packages to lower disease transmission rates.

“To reduce health risks, we also are temporarily modifying customer signature capture procedures,” the USPS said in a news release. “While maintaining a safe, appropriate distance, employees will request the customer’s first initial and last name so that the employee can enter the information on the electronic screen or hard copy items.”

With postal workers sacrificing their time and effort during a global pandemic there has also been an outpouring of support from grateful customers.

“What is amazing is our customer’s response,” Mazurkiewicz said. “Carriers are bringing in thank you letters and people are putting sanitizers and wipes in their mailboxes. Everybody, I think, is so appreciative of the people who are out there, and that includes postal employees as well as everybody else. You are really starting to see this community effort to keep everybody safe.”

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