Postal service

Analysis: Can the Postal Service perform at-home COVID tests?

Nothing is ever truly free. “Free” food samples, credit scores, tarot card readings –– all come with costs somewhere down the line.

This includes COVID-19 testing. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the US government had launched a website to provide rapid home COVID-19 antigen testing free of charge through the U.S. Postal Service. But opposite slower delivery times and tens of thousands of workers infected with omicroncan the agency deliver?

According to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the answer is a resounding yes.

“The 650,000 women and men of the United States Postal Service are ready to deliver and proud to play a vital role in meeting the health needs of the American public. We have worked closely with the administration and are well prepared to accept and deliver test kits on day one of program launch,” DeJoy said in an email to Modern Shipper.

But even the Biden administration has acknowledged that the tests may not arrive at the speed that Postal Service customers are accustomed to. According to the White Housecandidates should not expect to have their tests delivered for seven to 12 days — and not until the end of January — despite the tests being sent via the agency’s first-class parcel service, which has a indicated vessel time one to five business days.

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Some experts think it’s just not fast enough.

“Yes [customers] wait until they have a problem, by the time the tests come in, the optimal time for testing may well have passed,” William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert and member of the Centers for Disease Control’s Immunization Practices Advisory Committee and Prevention, Recount CN. “If you’ve been exposed and don’t have the tests available, you’ll need to find testing resources elsewhere.”

Schaffner recommends interested customers request tests before they need them, but doing so could make problems for the Postal Service worse. The White House limits orders to a maximum of four tests per residence, but if everyone orders tests before they’re needed, the agency could soon be overwhelmed.

However, the agency is working to ensure the tests are delivered quickly and smoothly. A Postal Service spokesperson told Modern Shipper that the service accepted more than 13.2 billion packages during the holiday with an average delivery time of less than three days, and will implement the same strategies. which he used during the peak season to ensure on-time deliveries.

These include an expansion of its facilities, including 43 new centers that will package and ship tests nationwide, investment in new processing equipment and additional staff in the form of 7,000 temporary workers.

But will 7,000 be enough? According to the American Postal Workers Union, more than 19,200 postal service workers were sick or in quarantine as of Tuesday. That’s knocking on the agency’s pandemic door about a year ago, and it’s more than double the number announced by the union two weeks ago.

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Already, staffing shortages are impacting the Postal Service’s ability to deliver mail. Reports of uneven delivery due to a decrease in labor gush from Vermont for Ohio, with many residents claiming delays of more than a week. Now the agency will also have to provide hundreds of millions of COVID-19 tests.

The Postal Service’s delivery figures for the first week of January, however, paint a slightly rosier picture. According to a Press release last week, the agency posted an on-time rate of 90% for first-class mail during the period from January 1 to January 7, and the average time to deliver a mail during this period was only 2, 6 days.

“Consistent with the rest of the shipping industry, the organization experienced some minor ground and air transportation delays during the week of January 1-7,” the statement said. “The Postal Service continues to deal with impacts on last mile delivery due to availability issues from COVID-19 cases and inclement weather, including winter storms on the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. »

In the early days of the new White House program, a hiccup has already presented itself. Some claimants who live in apartments or other shared living situations say they were Recount they couldn’t order tests because someone else living at their address already had them.

“The Postal Service is seeing very limited instances of addresses that are not registered as multi-dwelling buildings, which could cause difficulties in ordering COVID test kits. This happens in a small percentage of orders,” a Postal Service spokesperson said. Recount 12 News in Rhode Island.

For the time being, Swiss Post recommends filing a service request on its website or by contacting their help desk. But the organization will have to iron out that problem — and others — before Americans can truly capitalize on the White House’s latest pandemic initiative.

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