Two postal workers in Billings have tested positive for COVID-19, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
The Postal Service believes the exposure risk to other employees and the public is "minimal" because the agency has followed social-distancing guidelines to keep employees six feet away from each other and the public, said James Boxrud, a Denver-based Postal Service spokesman, in an email.
Citing health privacy laws, Boxrud said he couldn't provide much additional information about the two employees, including where they worked and when they tested positive.
Both were contacted by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, which then directs an isolation period along doctors and local health departments, he said.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization state that the risk of contracting coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, from mail is low.
Although the virus can survive anywhere from a few hours to a few days on surfaces, it would struggle to survive on mail because it's exposed to many different temperatures and environments, according to WHO.
The Postal Service has also implemented several measures at all facilities aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Adding signage, floor tape and other "sneeze" barriers at all retail locations to enforce six feet of social distancing among employees and customers.
- Eliminated requirements for customers to sign for mobile delivery, and instructed carriers to maintain a safe distance at the doorstep.
- Updating cleaning to meet CDC guidelines.
- Updating sick leave policies to allow employees to stay home when they're sick and provide care for dependents.
- Expanded teleworking for eligible employees
- Expanded the national sourcing of materials to meet rising demand for good through the mail amid retails shutdowns.
Click here for more information on COVID-19 related policies from the U.S. Postal Service.
Postal workers are considered essential employees under Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's statewide stay-at-home order.
Yellowstone County had 48 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to the Montana Response COVID-19 tracker . It wasn't immediately clear if the two postal workers were among that count or are new cases.
Montana has reported 332 cases, with six deaths and 31 hospitalizations as of Tuesday. The state also reports 135 people have recovered from the disease as of Tuesday. These reports are all updated daily.