ENCINITAS — After the dust settles from COVID-19, neighborhood mail carriers may be looking for a new job.
After being excluded from federal stimulus programs, the United States Postal Service (USPS) currently faces bankruptcy and closure as soon as September 30, based on estimates provided to lawmakers.
“We are at a critical juncture in the life of the Postal Service,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan. “[Due to COVID], the sudden drop in mail volumes, our most profitable revenue stream, is steep and may never fully recover.”
Despite looming financial uncertainty coupled with an unprecedented health crisis, local postal workers continue to deliver the mail.
David Payne, an Encinitas postal worker and former United States Marine, said he feels confident in his ability to do his job safely while following health guidelines.
“We practice social distancing, wear masks, utilize gloves and there’s a lot more washing of hands as we stop,” said Payne, who was wearing his own homemade mask.
Payne is just one of approximately 97 employees currently working at the Encinitas Post Office on North Coast Highway 101. During a typical route, he makes between 600 and 1000 deliveries.
Current USPS safety protocol is based on recommendations by the CDC, but additional safety measures have been implemented at all retail and mail processing facilities.
“Having been a Marine, this isn’t hard,” Payne said. “We follow basic rules that we were given and we execute the job. [There’s] no fear about getting the disease as long as we practice what we were told by the CDC.”
Referencing his time in combat, Payne is one of nearly 97,000 veterans working for the USPS, which is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country. Mass layoffs and closures would likely affect military veterans disproportionately.
While facing uncertain circumstances, Payne said Encinitas residents have found heartfelt ways of saying ‘thank you.’
“Seniors on my block really appreciate that their medications are getting delivered,” Payne said. “Folks are leaving posters and notes up saying thank you. They’re really appreciative.”
While relying solely on the sale of postal products such as stamps and packaging among other services to fund operations, the USPS’s revenue loss will soar to an estimated $22 billion in the next 18 months, according to the agency’s website.
On April 10, Brennan called on the White House and Congress to help, requesting $85 billion dollars in grants and assistance.
Lawmakers instead extended USPS a $10 billion loan, pending final approval from the Department of the Treasury, as reported by multiple news sources.
“At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business,” Brennan said.