The coronavirus outbreak could shut down the post office in less than 3 months, lawmakers say
- Two US representatives said on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak could shut down the Postal Service by June.
- By Tuesday morning, more than 46,000 coronavirus cases had been identified in the US. As of Friday, at least 20 postal workers had been sickened.
- Any interruption in mail service could delay critical medicine deliveries and upend postal voting in the November election.
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Critical supplies — like the more than 1 billion shipments of prescription drugs delivered by the Postal Service last year — could be stuck, mail voting in the November election could be stymied, and hundreds of thousands of postal employees could be out of work, Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Gerry Connolly said in a statement on Monday.
"Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House," Maloney and Connolly said.
"Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications. The Postal Service needs America's help, and we must answer this call."
The duo also introduced a bill that would provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service while eliminating the agency's debt and requiring it to prioritize medical deliveries.
The bill would also create temporary delivery points to protect workers. It's not clear what these might look like, as the design would be left up to the Postal Service, but the bill's language implies something similar to Amazon's delivery lockers that allow people to send deliveries to a secure location other than their home.Like hospitals, grocery stores, and other essential businesses, post offices have remained open despite many businesses closing as the coronavirus continues to spread. As of Tuesday morning, more than 46,000 cases had been identified in the US.
At least 20 postal workers had fallen sick by Friday, The New York Times reported this week. The head of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union told the paper that workers had gotten sick in Miami, New York City, Seattle, Portland, and other cities.
That's a small number of the agency's roughly 630,000 employees, but it underscores the outbreak's effects on several industries.
"These negative effects could be even more dire in rural areas, where millions of Americans are sheltering in place and rely on the Postal Service to deliver essential staples," Maloney and Connolly's statement said.
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- New York state projects it will need nearly 90,000 more hospital beds. Gov. Cuomo warned that the same could happen to California, Washington, and Illinois.
- Airlines are preparing plans to shut down US flights completely.
- The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- At least 2.8 billion people worldwide are under some kind of coronavirus lockdown.
- Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will end its lockdown on April 8, allowing traffic to reenter and pass through the city.
- The "Dr. Doom" economist has warned that the coronavirus could plunge the global economy into a "Greater Depression."
- Trump wants America "opened up and just raring to go by Easter," while the Pentagon is bracing for at least a few months of crisis.
- An Arizona man died after taking a version of an unproven drug that Trump has touted, and his wife has warned not to "believe anything that the president says."
- Read live updates about case totals, death tolls, and new developments around the world. Here's the latest on the escalating situation in the US.
- People older than 60 and those with preexisting conditions are at a much higher risk of severe illness and death. But a top US infectious-disease expert warned that young people are "not immune or safe."
- The global COVID-19 death rate has doubled in the last two months, but that doesn't tell the full story.
- The most common symptoms are a fever and a dry cough, though some people experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Doctors warn that symptoms start slow, sometimes even get better, then worsen quickly.
- Some people who get the virus seem to lose their sense of smell or taste.
- On average, a coronavirus patient infects at least two other people, but we can limit that spread with preventive measures.
- More than 40 potential vaccines are in the works, and eight are set for human trials this year.