Denver USPS Facility Defies Local Order To Close After Employees Test Positive for Coronavirus

A Denver USPS facility will remain open despite an order from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment to close.

The DDPHE issued a closure order on Thursday after the facility reportedly failed to comply with an investigation that was launched after the state reported multiped cases of coronavirus among employees. The DDPHE told Newsweek the closure order was a "last resort" and the "only remaining tool" the agency had to secure public health compliance during the pandemic.

Under the order, the facility must remain closed until it completely disinfects all surfaces, implements specific control measures and submits a plan in writing with how it will comply with measures in the future. USPS told Newsweek that it will remain open.

Multiple cases involving employees have been confirmed, according to the DDPHE. On Thursday, officials went to the facility at 7550 E 53rd Place to conduct an investigation. In any outbreak investigation, DDPHE told Newsweek they work with facility management to gather information about sick employees, identify common exposures and implement safety practices to reduce transmission.

In this case, the DDPHE claimed the USPS failed to provide the necessary information and didn't allow inspections that would support complete outbreak investigations. They were only able to make "minimal observations," because they were only able to investigate from a small public-facing space and not the entire facility, according to the closure order.

denver post office closure coronavirus
Mail carrier Oscar Osorio continues to deliver mail in Los Feliz amid the Covid 19 pandemic, April 29, in Los Angeles. On Thursday, the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment ordered a local post office to close after it failed to comply with an investigation. VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty

USPS told Newsweek it's an "essential function" under federal law during times of emergency, including the current pandemic. Closing down had the potential to impact stimulus checks, prescription medications, personal correspondence and vital goods to more than 6.5 million customers in Colorado and Wyoming, USPS officials said.

"It certainly is not our intent to halt the delivery of mail or shut down an essential federal facility," DDPHE told Newsweek.

The closure letter claimed the DDPHE had the authority to issue the closure under DRMC 24-16. The statute gives the manager of public health and environment "full power" to take necessary measures to promote the health and cleanliness of the city and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Under the order, the facility must screen all employees for symptoms of a new coronavirus at the beginning and end of each shift; ensure employees wear face coverings; and disinfect the facility. They must also provide a line list of confirmed cases within 24 hours and then every Monday by noon.

When investigators visited the facility, they witnessed three employees wearing face coverings while they assisted customers and plastic curtains separating each station. USPS officials told Newsweek they were meeting all guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal government.

"We have provided Denver Public Health the necessary documentation to satisfy their inquiry and are confident the order will be rescinded," USPS told Newsweek.

Colorado's had 23,191 cases of a new coronavirus, according to the state's website, and the most cases--4,948--were identified in Denver County. Colorado has started easing restrictions, but employees at businesses are still required to wear face coverings while at work.