Objective

Our objective was to assess the Postal Service’s response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak regarding the safety of its employees.

In March 2020, the president of the United States declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency; its impact to the nation’s health and safety has been unprecedented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of July 31, 2020, there were 4.5 million cases and 151,000 deaths in the U.S. Many states and communities shut down businesses, asked people to stay home, and prohibited gatherings to slow the spread of the virus. Even during the shutdowns, the Postal Service continued to deliver mail and packages to every address in the nation, every day.

To lead its pandemic response, the Postal Service created the COVID-19 Command Response Team at headquarters to ensure the agency followed directives and guidance from the CDC. The Postal Service implemented changes to slow the spread of the virus, manage and support affected employees, and ensure that recovered employees returned to work safely.

To slow the virus’s spread, the Postal Service required all employees to wear face coverings where a state or local mandate was in place and social distancing could not be achieved, requested customers to wear face coverings in all retail facilities, and established daily cleaning of the workroom floor and cleaning of frequently touched surfaces between tours. In addition, the Postal Service established a COVID-19 Supplies Command Center to monitor daily inventories in the field and identify facilities in need of essential supplies. This helped ensure millions of face coverings, gloves, and cleaning products were available to about 641,000 Postal Service employees working across 31,500 facilities. To identify employees with COVID-19 symptoms at work, the Postal Service also deployed a temperature-taking proof of concept test at four facilities in May 2020.

For employees who either contracted or were affected by the virus, the Postal Service allowed the use of liberal leave. It also established a Close Contact Tracing Program in April 2020 to outline safety protocols for identifying and quarantining employees who came into close contact with an infected person at work, as well as tracking employees with a positive COVID-19 test. The Postal Service’s nursing staff is responsible for conducting contact tracing to determine if any employees were in contact with an infected coworker. They also set return-to-work dates for employees after an exposure to or illness from COVID-19.

The Postal Service’s quick actions likely saved lives and certainly increased employee safety. Despite these efforts to contain COVID-19, 33,945 employees took leave to quarantine, 7,421 tested positive for the virus, and 80 died, as of July 31, 2020. The number of new, positive cases in the Postal Service steadily increased since the first confirmed case in February 2020 through the end of July 2020. Therefore, vigilance and additional precautions could help further protect employees.

Findings

While we recognize the challenges facing the Postal Service during the pandemic, we identified three areas where the Postal Service can better protect its employees: (1) face covering policy, (2) contact tracing program, and (3) employee health screening.

First, Postal Service employees did not always wear face coverings when proper social distancing could not be achieved. We visited 10 facilities, including five mail processing and five retail and delivery facilities, and observed employees at four retail and delivery facilities (40 percent) who did not adhere to the local face covering policy. In addition, during our review of camera footage, we observed 41 of 117 facilities (35 percent) with at least one employee not wearing a face covering where a local mandate required one, and while not social distancing.

These employees were behind the counter or in the back of a retail and delivery facility or on the workroom floor in a processing facility.

The Postal Service face covering policy at all facilities cited local or state mandates and when employees could not maintain social distancing in the workplace. However, facility management voiced confusion with the policy and interpreted it to mean that state and local directives determined whether employees were required to wear face coverings. Postal Service Headquarters considered the local requirements supplemental to the nationwide policy.

In addition, managers of offending employees were not always aware they could enforce the face covering policy. An enforcement process which includes engaging the union representative and taking appropriate action existed; however, it was not well-known or followed because it was only communicated verbally to some managers. The confusing face covering policy and its inconsistent enforcement put employees at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and potentially decreased employee availability.

Second, the Close Contact Tracing Program did not include an overarching program goal with associated metrics and did not ensure adequate staffing. Management indicated they did not establish goals for the contact tracing program because they did not believe contact tracing was measurable and did believe that its application varied case by case. However, program goals and performance metrics are essential to monitor progress and determine resources needed. In addition, the responsibilities of and reliance on the nursing staff grew during the pandemic because local public health departments were unable to complete contact tracing. As of July 31, 2020, there were 116 Postal Service nurses nationwide, with 30 vacancies — a 21 percent vacancy rate. Local management did not actively post open positions on the Postal Service’s career website. Retaining a full complement of nurses, or supplementing them where necessary with contractor support, is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis.

Lastly, although the CDC recommended temperature taking for employees in April 2020, the Postal Service did not deploy temperature taking within its facilities nationwide. As of July 31, 2020, there was at least one employee who either tested positive for COVID-19 or quarantined due to possible exposure to the virus at over 7,000 Postal Service facilities. The Postal Service conducted a temperature taking proof of concept test in May 2020 at four facilities, and it plans to conduct health screening tests at two additional facilities.

The Postal Service indicated that it has not deployed nationwide temperature taking tests because completing the test is resource intensive and there were privacy concerns. The Postal Service’s process for conducting the tests was complicated, and it required the purchase of different types of thermometers, additional employee time, and coordination with the law department and unions. Additionally, the Postal Service determined that temperature taking alone would not be enough to identify employees with COVID-19. Without conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks of employees before they enter the facility, employees could come to work while sick, increasing the likelihood of transmission of COVID-19 to other employees and customers.

We did not evaluate recent operational changes made by the Postal Service or the significant increases in delayed mail at delivery units experienced this summer. In response to a congressional request received on August 7, 2020, we have an ongoing project which will evaluate these operational changes and their impact on mail service.

Recommendations

We recommended management:

  • Clarify and communicate the Postal Service’s face covering policy for consistent, nationwide application.
  • Communicate policy regarding immediate enforcement and corrective action for non-compliance with the face covering policy.
  • Re-evaluate the Close Contact Tracing Program to include program goals, performance metrics, and a hiring initiative to ensure adequate staffing.
  • Evaluate options and implement a nationwide health screening initiative which may include employee self-certification.

Read full report

Audit Resolution - Recommendation 2

OIG Response

Audit Resolution - Recommendation 4

OIG Response

Comments (458)

IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE: Complaints about the Postal Service – including lost, stolen, or mishandled mail – that are unrelated to the content on this page will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

Leave a comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
  • anon

    Post Office in Jersey City, NJ Management is not enforcing the FACE Covering policy. There is no face covering signage posted saying masked are required. Some employees are wearing masks and some aren’t. I also filed a complaint with OSHA and still have not heard from them!

    Oct 24, 2021
  • anon

    So when was the last recent audit, what is being done about it to take corrective measure for the new variant and so forth? Proper preparation prevents poor performance This is really why numbers aren’t going down because we are transmitting it to every home in the US or world by transmitting mail because we don’t know what will happen if this entire agency is shut down as we are really the most important because we help this country not only communicate but run…economically speaking but because our government isn’t regulating business as they are too busy infringing on individuals , because they think it will collectively help...they don’t want to take accountability for the shut down of our nation and that’s probably why they’re shut down..Keeping the economy running has been more important than the safety of citizens And clearly protocols have not been up to Date, procedures aren’t being adequately follow and no deep sanitation is possible because we run 24/8 and given the commentary it’s not just my distribution center… That’s a threat not only to your employees and YOUR OWN LIFE but to citizens of the US, and the world and you all should be ashamed of yourself as you are allowing people to die, in and out of service treadted as mere casualties but it’s really a disgrace to be recognized as a federal employee but not treated as someone of it, especially in a global pandemic because we are the ones with our lives on the line because decision makers aren’t on the front line so they don’t care and won’t until it hits home… but you would think AMERICA IS HOME…it’s a lack of respect of LIFE for me. This agency needs reform and don’t mention the Union office because no information about my rep is posted and umm she’s on leave supposedly so if she’s fighting for her, who is fighting for me..and we???? Management barely keeping up with time cards and proper documentation let alone tracing. They don’t care about mask mandates, and the up keep of the facility is a reflection of that…there are so many people upset in this thread about your course of action…what’s next cause quitting IS MINE. I know I was taking a risk by working there but I’m not working like this under these conditions. And it looks like every man is for himself … And it also shows how this country’s government knows the price of everything but the value of nothing as I quote a famous rapper. The value of our dollar has declined just as our economy is…and you all are not prepared and because you refuse to take care of the people who take care of this country…but that’s been for generations clearly because we’ve been fighting for rights for a long time but now it’s our lives…so individually you have to make a difference and that decision starts here. DO SOMETHING

    Oct 12, 2021
  • anon

    I am unable to return at this time due to pnemonia

    Oct 08, 2021
  • anon

    I work at USPS in McAllen Texas Post Office. No one is enforcing the mask Federal Mandate. There has been one death and many are out because if the Covid-19 Delta Variance. The McAllen Texas Post Office employees are at high risk for contracting the virus. USPS is Negligent in adhere to the Federal Mandate of Masks Wearing in McAllen Texas 620 E Blvd 78501

    Sep 16, 2021
  • anon

    Our Post Office in Carson has a post master who is not following Covid mandates. There is no signage on the door, and no PO employees are wearing masks. I heard the post master tell a customer (masked) that wearing masks is stupid. In my town, everyone has to physically go to the PO to pick up mail. Unmasked employees are close to customers. Our population is older and more vulnerable, and COVID vaccinations rates are low, and cases are high. It should be safe to pick up mail.

    Sep 15, 2021
  • anon

    Two workers at the local post office were unmasked. One coughed into her hands, then came around the desk and attempted to fix the credit card machine with said hands. Not thrilled.

    Sep 14, 2021
  • anon

    I have a co worker who’s kid has covid. However she is still coming to work. Shouldn’t she be in quarantine?

    Sep 09, 2021
  • anon

    VIA THE NIH Introduction Facemasks are part of non-pharmaceutical interventions providing some breathing barrier to the mouth and nose that have been utilized for reducing the transmission of respiratory pathogens [1]. Facemasks can be medical and non-medical, where two types of the medical masks primarily used by healthcare workers [1], [2]. The first type is National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified N95 mask, a filtering face-piece respirator, and the second type is a surgical mask [1]. The designed and intended uses of N95 and surgical masks are different in the type of protection they potentially provide. The N95s are typically composed of electret filter media and seal tightly to the face of the wearer, whereas surgical masks are generally loose fitting and may or may not contain electret-filtering media. The N95s are designed to reduce the wearer’s inhalation exposure to infectious and harmful particles from the environment such as during extermination of insects. In contrast, surgical masks are designed to provide a barrier protection against splash, spittle and other body fluids to spray from the wearer (such as surgeon) to the sterile environment (patient during operation) for reducing the risk of contamination [1]. The third type of facemasks are the non-medical cloth or fabric masks. The non-medical facemasks are made from a variety of woven and non-woven materials such as Polypropylene, Cotton, Polyester, Cellulose, Gauze and Silk. Although non-medical cloth or fabric facemasks are neither a medical device nor personal protective equipment, some standards have been developed by the French Standardization Association (AFNOR Group) to define a minimum performance for filtration and breathability capacity [2]. The current article reviews the scientific evidences with respect to safety and efficacy of wearing facemasks, describing the physiological and psychological effects and the potential long-term consequences on health. Go to: Hypothesis On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a global public health emergency of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing illness of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) [3]. As of October 1, 2020, worldwide 34,166,633 cases were reported and 1,018,876 have died with virus diagnosis. Interestingly, 99% of the detected cases with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic or have mild condition, which contradicts with the virus name (severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2) [4]. Although infection fatality rate (number of death cases divided by number of reported cases) initially seems quite high 0.029 (2.9%) [4], this overestimation related to limited number of COVID-19 tests performed which biases towards higher rates. Given the fact that asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times higher than the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate is considerably less than 1% [5]. This was confirmed by the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from US stating, “the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 are similar to those of severe seasonal influenza” [5], having a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1% [5], [6], [7], [8]. In addition, data from hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and general public indicate that the majority of deaths were among older and chronically ill individuals, supporting the possibility that the virus may exacerbates existing conditions but rarely causes death by itself [9], [10]. SARS-CoV-2 primarily affects respiratory system and can cause complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), respiratory failure and death [3], [9]. It is not clear however, what the scientific and clinical basis for wearing facemasks as protective strategy, given the fact that facemasks restrict breathing, causing hypoxemia and hypercapnia and increase the risk for respiratory complications, self-contamination and exacerbation of existing chronic conditions [2], [11], [12], [13], [14]. Of note, hyperoxia or oxygen supplementation (breathing air with high partial O2 pressures that above the sea levels) has been well established as therapeutic and curative practice for variety acute and chronic conditions including respiratory complications [11], [15]. It fact, the current standard of care practice for treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is breathing 100% oxygen [16], [17], [18]. Although several countries mandated wearing facemask in health care settings and public areas, scientific evidences are lacking supporting their efficacy for reducing morbidity or mortality associated with infectious or viral diseases [2], [14], [19]. Therefore, it has been hypothesized: 1) the practice of wearing facemasks has compromised safety and efficacy profile, 2) Both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to reduce human-to-human transmission and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, 3) Wearing facemasks has adverse physiological and psychological effects, 4) Long-term consequences of wearing facemasks on health are detrimental. Go to: Evolution of hypothesis Breathing Physiology Breathing is one of the most important physiological functions to sustain life and health. Human body requires a continuous and adequate oxygen (O2) supply to all organs and cells for normal function and survival. Breathing is also an essential process for removing metabolic byproducts [carbon dioxide (CO2)] occurring during cell respiration [12], [13]. It is well established that acute significant deficit in O2 (hypoxemia) and increased levels of CO2 (hypercapnia) even for few minutes can be severely harmful and lethal, while chronic hypoxemia and hypercapnia cause health deterioration, exacerbation of existing conditions, morbidity and ultimately mortality [11], [20], [21], [22]. Emergency medicine demonstrates that 5–6 min of severe hypoxemia during cardiac arrest will cause brain death with extremely poor survival rates [20], [21], [22], [23]. On the other hand, chronic mild or moderate hypoxemia and hypercapnia such as from wearing facemasks resulting in shifting to higher contribution of anaerobic energy metabolism, decrease in pH levels and increase in cells and blood acidity, toxicity, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, immunosuppression and health deterioration [24], [11], [12], [13]. Efficacy of facemasks The physical properties of medical and non-medical facemasks suggest that facemasks are ineffective to block viral particles due to their difference in scales [16], [17], [25]. According to the current knowledge, the virus SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter of 60 nm to 140 nm [nanometers (billionth of a meter)] [16], [17], while medical and non-medical facemasks’ thread diameter ranges from 55 µm to 440 µm [micrometers (one millionth of a meter), which is more than 1000 times larger [25]. Due to the difference in sizes between SARS-CoV-2 diameter and facemasks thread diameter (the virus is 1000 times smaller), SARS-CoV-2 can easily pass through any facemask [25]. In addition, the efficiency filtration rate of facemasks is poor, ranging from 0.7% in non-surgical, cotton-gauze woven mask to 26% in cotton sweeter material [2]. With respect to surgical and N95 medical facemasks, the efficiency filtration rate falls to 15% and 58%, respectively when even small gap between the mask and the face exists [25]. Clinical scientific evidence challenges further the efficacy of facemasks to block human-to-human transmission or infectivity. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 246 participants [123 (50%) symptomatic)] who were allocated to either wearing or not wearing surgical facemask, assessing viruses transmission including coronavirus [26]. The results of this study showed that among symptomatic individuals (those with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose ect…) there was no difference between wearing and not wearing facemask for coronavirus droplets transmission of particles of >5 µm. Among asymptomatic individuals, there was no droplets or aerosols coronavirus detected from any participant with or without the mask, suggesting that asymptomatic individuals do not transmit or infect other people [26]. This was further supported by a study on infectivity where 445 asymptomatic individuals were exposed to asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carrier (been positive for SARS-CoV-2) using close contact (shared quarantine space) for a median of 4 to 5 days. The study found that none of the 445 individuals was infected with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase [27]. A meta-analysis among health care workers found that compared to no masks, surgical mask and N95 respirators were not effective against transmission of viral infections or influenza-like illness based on six RCTs [28]. Using separate analysis of 23 observational studies, this meta-analysis found no protective effect of medical mask or N95 respirators against SARS virus [28]. A recent systematic review of 39 studies including 33,867 participants in community settings (self-report illness), found no difference between N95 respirators versus surgical masks and surgical mask versus no masks in the risk for developing influenza or influenza-like illness, suggesting their ineffectiveness of blocking viral transmissions in community settings [29]. Another meta-analysis of 44 non-RCT studies (n = 25,697 participants) examining the potential risk reduction of facemasks against SARS, middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS) and COVID-19 transmissions [30]. The meta-analysis included four specific studies on COVID-19 transmission (5,929 participants, primarily health-care workers used N95 masks). Although the overall findings showed reduced risk of virus transmission with facemasks, the analysis had severe limitations to draw conclusions. One of the four COVID-19 studies had zero infected cases in both arms, and was excluded from meta-analytic calculation. Other two COVID-19 studies had unadjusted models, and were also excluded from the overall analysis. The meta-analytic results were based on only one COVID-19, one MERS and 8 SARS studies, resulting in high selection bias of the studies and contamination of the results between different viruses. Based on four COVID-19 studies, the meta-analysis failed to demonstrate risk reduction of facemasks for COVID-19 transmission, where the authors reported that the results of meta-analysis have low certainty and are inconclusive [30]. In early publication the WHO stated that “facemasks are not required, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons” [14]. In the same publication, the WHO declared that “cloth (e.g. cotton or gauze) masks are not recommended under any circumstance” [14]. Conversely, in later publication the WHO stated that the usage of fabric-made facemasks (Polypropylene, Cotton, Polyester, Cellulose, Gauze and Silk) is a general community practice for “preventing the infected wearer transmitting the virus to others and/or to offer protection to the healthy wearer against infection (prevention)” [2]. The same publication further conflicted itself by stating that due to the lower filtration, breathability and overall performance of fabric facemasks, the usage of woven fabric mask such as cloth, and/or non-woven fabrics, should only be considered for infected persons and not for prevention practice in asymptomatic individuals [2]. The Central for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made similar recommendation, stating that only symptomatic persons should consider wearing facemask, while for asymptomatic individuals this practice is not recommended [31]. Consistent with the CDC, clinical scientists from Departments of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in Australia counsel against facemasks usage for health-care workers, arguing that there is no justification for such practice while normal caring relationship between patients and medical staff could be compromised [32]. Moreover, the WHO repeatedly announced that “at present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19) on the effectiveness face masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19”[2]. Despite these controversies, the potential harms and risks of wearing facemasks were clearly acknowledged. These including self-contamination due to hand practice or non-replaced when the mask is wet, soiled or damaged, development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne and psychological discomfort. Vulnerable populations such as people with mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, hearing problems, those living in hot and humid environments, children and patients with respiratory conditions are at significant health risk for complications and harm [2]. Physiological effects of wearing facemasks Wearing facemask mechanically restricts breathing by increasing the resistance of air movement during both inhalation and exhalation process [12], [13]. Although, intermittent (several times a week) and repetitive (10–15 breaths for 2–4 sets) increase in respiration resistance may be adaptive for strengthening respiratory muscles [33], [34], prolonged and continues effect of wearing facemask is maladaptive and could be detrimental for health [11], [12], [13]. In normal conditions at the sea level, air contains 20.93% O2 and 0.03% CO2, providing partial pressures of 100 mmHg and 40 mmHg for these gases in the arterial blood, respectively. These gas concentrations significantly altered when breathing occurs through facemask. A trapped air remaining between the mouth, nose and the facemask is rebreathed repeatedly in and out of the body, containing low O2 and high CO2 concentrations, causing hypoxemia and hypercapnia [35], [36], [11], [12], [13]. Severe hypoxemia may also provoke cardiopulmonary and neurological complications and is considered an important clinical sign in cardiopulmonary medicine [37], [38], [39], [40], [41], [42]. Low oxygen content in the arterial blood can cause myocardial ischemia, serious arrhythmias, right or left ventricular dysfunction, dizziness, hypotension, syncope and pulmonary hypertension [43]. Chronic low-grade hypoxemia and hypercapnia as result of using facemask can cause exacerbation of existing cardiopulmonary, metabolic, vascular and neurological conditions [37], [38], [39], [40], [41], [42]. Table 1 summarizes the physiological, psychological effects of wearing facemask and their potential long-term consequences for health. Table 1 Physiological and Psychological Effects of Wearing Facemask and Their Potential Health Consequences. Physiological Effects Psychological Effect Health Consequences • Hypoxemia • Hypercapnia • Shortness of breath • Increase lactate concentration • Decline in pH levels • Acidosis • Toxicity • Inflammation • Self-contamination • Increase in stress hormones level (adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol) • Increased muscle tension • Immunosuppression • Activation of “fight or flight” stress response • Chronic stress condition • Fear • Mood disturbances • Insomnia • Fatigue • Compromised cognitive performance • Increased predisposition for viral and infection illnesses • Headaches • Anxiety • Depression • Hypertension • Cardiovascular disease • Cancer • Diabetes • Alzheimer disease • Exacerbation of existing conditions and diseases • Accelerated aging process • Health deterioration • Premature mortality In addition to hypoxia and hypercapnia, breathing through facemask residues bacterial and germs components on the inner and outside layer of the facemask. These toxic components are repeatedly rebreathed back into the body, causing self-contamination. Breathing through facemasks also increases temperature and humidity in the space between the mouth and the mask, resulting a release of toxic particles from the mask’s materials [1], [2], [19], [26], [35], [36]. A systematic literature review estimated that aerosol contamination levels of facemasks including 13 to 202,549 different viruses [1]. Rebreathing contaminated air with high bacterial and toxic particle concentrations along with low O2 and high CO2 levels continuously challenge the body homeostasis, causing self-toxicity and immunosuppression [1], [2], [19], [26], [35], [36]. A study on 39 patients with renal disease found that wearing N95 facemask during hemodialysis significantly reduced arterial partial oxygen pressure (from PaO2 101.7 to 92.7 mm Hg), increased respiratory rate (from 16.8 to 18.8 breaths/min), and increased the occurrence of chest discomfort and respiratory distress [35]. Respiratory Protection Standards from Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Department of Labor states that breathing air with O2 concentration below 19.5% is considered oxygen-deficiency, causing physiological and health adverse effects. These include increased breathing frequency, accelerated heartrate and cognitive impairments related to thinking and coordination [36]. A chronic state of mild hypoxia and hypercapnia has been shown as primarily mechanism for developing cognitive dysfunction based on animal studies and studies in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [44]. The adverse physiological effects were confirmed in a study of 53 surgeons where surgical facemask were used during a major operation. After 60 min of facemask wearing the oxygen saturation dropped by more than 1% and heart rate increased by approximately five beats/min [45]. Another study among 158 health-care workers using protective personal equipment primarily N95 facemasks reported that 81% (128 workers) developed new headaches during their work shifts as these become mandatory due to COVID-19 outbreak. For those who used the N95 facemask greater than 4 h per day, the likelihood for developing a headache during the work shift was approximately four times higher [Odds ratio = 3.91, 95% CI (1.35–11.31) p = 0.012], while 82.2% of the N95 wearers developed the headache already within ≤10 to 50 min [46]. With respect to cloth facemask, a RCT using four weeks follow up compared the effect of cloth facemask to medical masks and to no masks on the incidence of clinical respiratory illness, influenza-like illness and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infections among 1607 participants from 14 hospitals [19]. The results showed that there were no difference between wearing cloth masks, medical masks and no masks for incidence of clinical respiratory illness and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infections. However, a large harmful effect with more than 13 times higher risk [Relative Risk = 13.25 95% CI (1.74 to 100.97) was observed for influenza-like illness among those who were wearing cloth masks [19]. The study concluded that cloth masks have significant health and safety issues including moisture retention, reuse, poor filtration and increased risk for infection, providing recommendation against the use of cloth masks [19]. Psychological effects of wearing facemasks Psychologically, wearing facemask fundamentally has negative effects on the wearer and the nearby person. Basic human-to-human connectivity through face expression is compromised and self-identity is somewhat eliminated [47], [48], [49]. These dehumanizing movements partially delete the uniqueness and individuality of person who wearing the facemask as well as the connected person [49]. Social connections and relationships are basic human needs, which innately inherited in all people, whereas reduced human-to-human connections are associated with poor mental and physical health [50], [51]. Despite escalation in technology and globalization that would presumably foster social connections, scientific findings show that people are becoming increasingly more socially isolated, and the prevalence of loneliness is increasing in last few decades [50], [52]. Poor social connections are closely related to isolation and loneliness, considered significant health related risk factors [50], [51], [52], [53]. A meta-analysis of 91 studies of about 400,000 people showed a 13% increased morality risk among people with low compare to high contact frequency [53]. Another meta-analysis of 148 prospective studies (308,849 participants) found that poor social relationships was associated with 50% increased mortality risk. People who were socially isolated or fell lonely had 45% and 40% increased mortality risk, respectively. These findings were consistent across ages, sex, initial health status, cause of death and follow-up periods [52]. Importantly, the increased risk for mortality was found comparable to smoking and exceeding well-established risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity [52]. An umbrella review of 40 systematic reviews including 10 meta-analyses demonstrated that compromised social relationships were associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality, depression, anxiety suicide, cancer and overall physical illness [51]. As described earlier, wearing facemasks causing hypoxic and hypercapnic state that constantly challenges the normal homeostasis, and activates “fight or flight” stress response, an important survival mechanism in the human body [11], [12], [13]. The acute stress response includes activation of nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, and the immune systems [47], [54], [55], [56]. These include activation of the limbic part of the brain, release stress hormones (adrenalin, neuro-adrenalin and cortisol), changes in blood flow distribution (vasodilation of peripheral blood vessels and vasoconstriction of visceral blood vessels) and activation of the immune system response (secretion of macrophages and natural killer cells) [47], [48]. Encountering people who wearing facemasks activates innate stress-fear emotion, which is fundamental to all humans in danger or life threating situations, such as death or unknown, unpredictable outcome. While acute stress response (seconds to minutes) is adaptive reaction to challenges and part of the survival mechanism, chronic and prolonged state of stress-fear is maladaptive and has detrimental effects on physical and mental health. The repeatedly or continuously activated stress-fear response causes the body to operate on survival mode, having sustain increase in blood pressure, pro-inflammatory state and immunosuppression [47], [48]. Long-Term health consequences of wearing facemasks Long-term practice of wearing facemasks has strong potential for devastating health consequences. Prolonged hypoxic-hypercapnic state compromises normal physiological and psychological balance, deteriorating health and promotes the developing and progression of existing chronic diseases [23], [38], [39], [43], [47], [48], [57], [11], [12], [13]. For instance, ischemic heart disease caused by hypoxic damage to the myocardium is the most common form of cardiovascular disease and is a number one cause of death worldwide (44% of all non-communicable diseases) with 17.9 million deaths occurred in 2016 [57]. Hypoxia also playing an important role in cancer burden [58]. Cellular hypoxia has strong mechanistic feature in promoting cancer initiation, progression, metastasis, predicting clinical outcomes and usually presents a poorer survival in patients with cancer. Most solid tumors present some degree of hypoxia, which is independent predictor of more aggressive disease, resistance to cancer therapies and poorer clinical outcomes [59], [60]. Worth note, cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with an estimate of more than 18 million new diagnosed cases and 9.6 million cancer-related deaths occurred in 2018 [61]. With respect to mental health, global estimates showing that COVID-19 will cause a catastrophe due to collateral psychological damage such as quarantine, lockdowns, unemployment, economic collapse, social isolation, violence and suicides [62], [63], [64]. Chronic stress along with hypoxic and hypercapnic conditions knocks the body out of balance, and can cause headaches, fatigue, stomach issues, muscle tension, mood disturbances, insomnia and accelerated aging [47], [48], [65], [66], [67]. This state suppressing the immune system to protect the body from viruses and bacteria, decreasing cognitive function, promoting the developing and exacerbating the major health issues including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer disease, rising anxiety and depression states, causes social isolation and loneliness and increasing the risk for prematurely mortality [47], [48], [51], [56], [66]. Go to: Conclusion The existing scientific evidences challenge the safety and efficacy of wearing facemask as preventive intervention for COVID-19. The data suggest that both medical and non-medical facemasks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious disease such SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, supporting against the usage of facemasks. Wearing facemasks has been demonstrated to have substantial adverse physiological and psychological effects. These include hypoxia, hypercapnia, shortness of breath, increased acidity and toxicity, activation of fear and stress response, rise in stress hormones, immunosuppression, fatigue, headaches, decline in cognitive performance, predisposition for viral and infectious illnesses, chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Long-term consequences of wearing facemask can cause health deterioration, developing and progression of chronic diseases and premature death. Governments, policy makers and health organizations should utilize prosper and scientific evidence-based approach with respect to wearing facemasks, when the latter is considered as preventive intervention for public health. VIA THE NIH

    Sep 17, 2021
  • anon

    Since the PO last month said employees that are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, there is no way to know if the people NOT wearing masks are vaccinated. A few people who from the beginning of COVID were against wearing masks or even thinking COVID was "a thing" are walking around with no mask. Did they go get vaccinated? or simply back to refusing to wear masks? No way to know. PO needs to reinstate mask wearing. We have a husband/wife working in our office, the husband had COVID, no announcement was ever made to the rest of the staff. We just heard through the grapevine. Shouldn't the rest of us know if a fellow employee has had COVID? What about the spouse still coming to work every day? Even when we were required to wear masks, several people didn't wear them properly. After a complaint to management, an announcement was made to wear masks properly, that lasted about two days.

    Aug 26, 2021
  • anon

    HI Karen! I appreciate your input here; although, completely lacking in any empirical sense. I also can empathize with your distorted practice of virtue signaling to force your morale on others--if I were preparing to turn myself into a psych ward. Has this ""husband/wife"" infected and caused the death of anyone at your facility?? Can you help me to see the factual truth by directing me to a link or something like an independent study or peer research documentaion, etc, that will prove, without a single doubt, that masks can prevent human-to-human disease transmission? Or you can help to clear all my doubts by providing some way for me to see substantiated data that this virus has been successfully isolated and recognized officially? Any of these requests will do. THANKS KAREN! Carry on in watching the mainstream media and keep believing everything they tell you because yes! They know what is best for each and every one of us.

    Oct 20, 2021
  • anon

    These mask failed in Equal Opportunity. The deaf communicate and listen by lip reading. Covered mouths put the deaf in a lonely world of not being able to understand what is being said around them. Let’s put ourselves in their shows. No more mask ever!!

    Aug 11, 2021
  • anon

    My local Post Office, Trumbull, CT 06611, is still requiring masks to be worn by it's customers. On July 16, 2021 USPS lifted that requirement. Why are they allowed to continue this for vaccinated citizens?

    Aug 10, 2021
  • anon

    ALL FEDERAL EMPLOYEES SHOULD BE MASKED & VACCINATED OR SUBJECTED TO DAILY TESTING.

    Jul 30, 2021
  • anon

    Mask mandates should be reinstated since proof of vaccination is not required, therefore, everyone is at risk!

    Jul 28, 2021
  • anon

    Proof of vaccination/covid pass does not protect you. The vaccine does not fully protect you neither does the mask especially when 90% of you masktards don't even wear the damn thing properly like experts (Dr. Fauci) have said. Therefor you can still get the common cold, flu, pneumonia etc. Let's not forget a 99.75% recovery rate. It has been 555 days since the pandemic was declared and you people don't realize what is going on out here yet? first it was the war on drugs then the war on terror now the war on germs. Y'all see the pattern yet? Laws that affect us all are being stripped left and right. Critical thinking and logic has died. What were you people doing before 3/11/2020 when people got sick all the time. No one wore mask or had to show a passport to get into a restaurant to eat. You have been fooled. Research The Great Reset - Klaus Schwab funded by all the world leaders especially yours truly the bill and Melinda gates foundation also look up event 201. Wake up! The Great Awakening is here.

    Sep 17, 2021
  • anon

    Nobody wants masks anymore!!!

    Jul 28, 2021
  • anon

    Why is it required to wear a mask at the Dania Beach, Florida post office while its not required at the Florida state level?

    Jul 28, 2021
  • anon

    Please, in recognition of the Nuremberg International law, making it illegal to coerce/require people to receive any kind of medical treatment, don't require postal service employees to receive this experimental, unapproved by the FDA vaccine.

    Jul 27, 2021
  • anon

    No more mask! About time as directed by the 16 July 2021 memo from the Chief HRO Doug Tulino. Now we finally can get to work without the bullying from bad supervisors.

    Jul 18, 2021
  • anon

    good. mandate for masking removed and within 9 days 3 cases so far in my office.

    Jul 31, 2021
  • anon

    Why are we still wearing these masks at work? Enough already. Syracuse NY

    Jul 15, 2021
  • anon

    Our Stand-Up talks also have social distancing includedas a rule as well. So wear a mask "when social distance cannot be achieved or maintained" . . . It says "you should" social distance whenever possible. So, if it is "possible" but you're just chosing not wear it & your coworkers are healthy & aren't complaining, you really shouldn't be at fault. Supervisors are the main culprit at violating social distance but they're not threatened to be walked out the building. They've been given directives to alter our meetings & clock procedures to allow for adequate social distancing & they've ignored every last one of them. . . . . When they speak to you, they can take 3 steps back but they won't. . . . . Everyone should just NOT wear them. Bring a notepad, write down every time you see someone else not wearing one (time, date, location, any witnesses) then high five that person as you go on about your business. In a couple days someone will try to walk you out & you can show the union your notepad of the 100 non-mask violations & not social-distancing-when-possible violations you witnessed in just 3 days & those people weren't walked out. The way management selectively enforces stuff, this whole thing is unenforceable. It just leads to a hostile workplace of workplace harassment towards anyone management doesn't like. Meanwhile management & their favorites can mask selectively, never social distance, but try discipline you? Never going to hold up. Why would USPS want this for their employees? Let people who want to wear masks even though they don't work- let them. Anyone who doesn't want to because they have natural immunity, health reasons, have had a shot, religious reasons, or they just believe in their immune system- leave them alone. We spend more time at work then we do with our families, why add extra stress to the picture?

    Jul 11, 2021
  • anon

    Rob Robinson, thanks for sharing your observations. You are right in every one of them, and brave in your opinions. My experience recently was of one supervisor who used the mask mandate as a tool for grinding personal grudges, and who seemed to have no more personal belief in the masks as necessary than I do... and I have none. It is past time for those of us who understand that the mask is nothing but an oppression device to stand against it.

    Oct 18, 2021
  • anon

    I think it's funny how when states & counties have opened up, the USPS wants to stay in the past. So, everywhere you go all day, you don't need a mask. But when you go to work you do. Why? The 20 seconds you talk to your supervisor, can you really claim that's how you got sick? How can ANYONE prove that? . . . . If USPS was truly worried about that, more provisions would have been made for adequate 6 ft distancing. Our supervisors haven't changed a thing. We still meet in closed quarters while there's ample space to meet. . . . . . .Also, this whole article is silly. So, you noticed some people not masking up. Were they two consenting adults? If two people are close to each other & talking without masks, unless one is actively trying to get away but is forced into conversation with the other, where's the foul? So, if my coworker & I both have had covid, had a shot, or are willing to take our chances with our immune system, who are you to tell us we have to back up, put a mask on, or threaten to deprive us of the right to work? . . . . . . Some of the comments of people complaining about the "potential" to get sick or how does a clear know who has been vaccinated or not. . They don't & they shouldn't. Welcome to the real world. You might get sick. Eat healthy, workout, strengthen your immune system & stop trying to control everybody.

    Jul 11, 2021
  • anon

    Hi, where i live the PO is the only place still requiering the masks, is it ever going to end? thanks.

    Jul 09, 2021
  • anon

    Y r we still be forced to wear masks just so the ones that r still scare we still have to wear masks?? We have controlling bosses n postmaster that still force us to wear masks.. we r all done wearing masks n want our lives back. This is in washington state n governer did lift it up that we dont have to wear masks. Sooooo u r we still being forced???

    Jul 08, 2021
  • anon

    I have 30 years as a letter carrier. Due to my age ,65 and an underlying health condition I was advised by the CDC and my doctor to stay home until fully vaccinated.i complied with all request from my office ie. Doctors notes and I called and talked with the 2 supervisors though out the year. When I called to notify them that I was vaccinated and asked what I needed to provide to return to work I was told that I no longer worked there because I did not contact my office nor did I submit medical documentation. But I had. I gave 30 years of service to cusps. 30 years and this is how I exit my carriere with a removel/ fired!? This is really wrong.

    Jul 07, 2021
  • anon

    Patricia, they just did the same thing to me. They should not be allowed to get away with this. Are you in Washington state? I can't really afford an atty, but I guess I have no choice. The lenient leave meant NOTHING to the unethical managers of the post office.

    Jul 10, 2021
  • anon

    IF it's not too late and IF you want to return, (I sy IF because after what I've seen of the USPS this past year, I've decided to retire ASAP), I would gather up any and all evidence of your contact with management and call your Union President or National Business Agent, maybe even DC. If that doesn't work, or simultaneously e-mail/call your congressman and both senators and see what they can do. They have special liaisons to the USPS and I don't think they'd take too kindly to them treating a 30 year employee that way during a pandemic. Good luck to you and for what it's worth I don't blame you one bit for staying away like you did. I stayed away myself for 2 months and again periodically. The way the postal service handled this was abysmal and last I looked around 200 employees died from Covid with 10's of thousands of cases. My office never fully enforced the mask mandate and now they've lifted it without any guidance from HQ. And as you can see by this page OIG is useless in this.

    Jul 09, 2021
  • anon

    Apply for retirement

    Jul 08, 2021
  • anon

    Why are some post offices still requiring customers to wear masks when the mask mandate for vaccinated people has been lifted? (This is in Illinois.) No mask requirement sign on the outside of the building. Apparently you can enter the lobby unmasked to retrieve your mail from your box, but if you enter the "inner sanctum" where the clerk is, you need a mask. Huh? Makes no sense. Clerk lied when he said customers had to wear masks in governmental buildings.

    Jul 01, 2021
  • anon

    Why is it so hard to get admin. Leave when you're around someone with COVID-19?

    Jun 25, 2021
  • anon

    How to get pay admin. Leave for being in contact with a vivid 19 person. I'm

    Jun 25, 2021
  • anon

    I need to be paid for my quarantine I tested negative but I was around 6 employees at the postal service including supervisors that we're positive so I am on a why do I still get paid even though he works me only an hour and a half a day to a situation that Union is handle it

    Jul 29, 2021
  • anon

    Tired of wearing a mask in a distribution center where mail machines are hotter than 130 degrees and the Texas heat scorching the metal roofs and there is no A/C so it is extremely hot!!! Supervisors order workers to muzzle up with a mask. They should be taking care of the workers and fixing the A/C and installing fans on every post. Not sure why USPS not following CDC guidance in the North Texas Distribution Center. Get rid of the mask!!!! I can’t breathe!!!! It’s too hot!!!!

    Jun 23, 2021
  • anon

    The west county branch in St. Louis County, Missouri is demanding that customers wear a mask. This violates the latest usps guidelines and the omb's lastest directives. The clerk REFUSED to serve me, and wanted me to wear a mask that she could provide to me by touching the mask!! This is absurd! My civil rights are being violated!

    Jun 15, 2021
  • anon

    Don't be absurd. You balk at taking a mask she has to touch with her vinyl gloves yet you expect her to handle your grubby mail that you've been touching with your bare hands. Who knows what kind of disgusting things you've been doing with those hands before coming to her counter? Picking your nose, scraping food off your teeth, itching your ear wax, wiping your baby's pooped on bottom, picking up slugs? But, waaa, my rights! I agree you are not required legally to wear one and there's no way a mask will protect you anyway; but why can't you just slap one over your face for a moment for this poor drone's sake and so you can get your business done?

    Jun 22, 2021
  • anon

    It is ridiculous for vaccinated people to wear masks that they don't need just to make the "scared" people feel more comfortable.

    Jul 01, 2021
  • anon

    USPS in Del Rio, Texas is requiring all customers to wear a mask, this is not within the policy dictated by USPS latest guidance nor the CDC. The latest guidance by USPS applies only to employees and it gives them the choice if fully vaccinated to wear or not to wear a mask. The guidance does not apply to customers. Customer are being harassed and intimidated at that Postal Office by employees. You have the duty to protect the employees and the public from those kind of abuses as the Inspector General.

    Jun 15, 2021
  • anon

    I have been taking care of my 95 year old Mother for 4 years now. We live in a gated retirement community of small single family homes in east central Florida. Everyone in this community is at least 65 years old. Many are much, much older. Yet, throughout this deadly COVID-19 pandemic, I have NEVER seen a delivery person wear a mask. NOT ONE! Not UPS, not FED-EX, not Amazon, not USPS. USPS is the one that really infuriates me, for their visit is daily and unsolicited. And shouldn't federal employees be held to a higher standard? USPS states on their website that they "strongly encourage" their employees to wear masks in states that have no mandate. Are you kidding me? Have you MET a millennial? They are a generation of inept forever-children who are devoid of ethics. Where is management? This is reminiscent of Greenspan testifying to Congress that he thought the banks would regulate themselves for fraud. And then the world experienced a global economic collapse. Caused primarily by people in their 20's and 30's. You cannot trust millennials to do the right thing, ever. Are you management level people in the USPS stupid? One can only wonder at how many COVID-19 deaths were caused by the United States Postal Service. Just like during the 1917 pandemic when the Post Office was finally, finally detected as THE major spreader of THAT virus. Have we not learned anything in 100 years? Or do you at the USPS just not give a damn? Needless to say this past year has been a nightmare for my Mother and I. And the prime source of our anxiety was the United States Postal Service. Thanks for that.

    Jun 11, 2021
  • anon

    As of May 28, 2021 mask mandate was lifted for vaccinated individuals. However, how would a clerk know who is vaccinated and who’s not? They don’t have time to conduct vaccine screenings, that line is long enough. Keep the mask mandate inside the lobbies until full immunity is built. The DMV is still requiring mask so post office should to. I’ve never seen a batch of people so excited to spread covid.

    Jun 10, 2021
  • anon

    Customers are not social distancing, wearing masks or staying behind the plexiglass @ the crowded Hamilton Ohio Post Offices, putting other customers and the employees at risk!!!

    Jun 11, 2021
  • anon

    Employees not wearing mask in Camden ny post office 13316

    Jun 09, 2021
  • anon

    Why are customers still required to wear face masks? Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order prohibiting governmental entities in Texas on May 18th, 2021 — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask wearing. Beginning May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the Executive Order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

    Jun 07, 2021
  • anon

    I am being told that I must still wear a mask at the Saline Postal Service. Is that true?

    Jun 06, 2021
  • anon

    With the post office not following the current CDC guidelines there is no incentive to be vaccinated. As a matter of fact, alot of employees that do get vaccinated and have to call out due to the side effects are being disciplined

    May 26, 2021
  • anon

    Why isn't teh Postal Service following the CDC guidance as of 5/25/2021?

    May 25, 2021
  • anon

    Time to drop the mask requirement for customers and follow the science.

    May 24, 2021
  • anon

    I work at a office and our mail carrier refuses to wear a mask properly. The owner of our office has asked him numerous times and let him know our policy to enter our business a mask is mandatory for the safety of a worker who has a weakened immune system. How can I submit a complaint to address this issue.

    May 23, 2021
  • anon

    I work in a building that requires a mask. There's a letter carrier that brings us mail. We have asked him to wear a mask and he ignores us. He works on the street of Candelaria and 12th street. Does the government hire people like this at the post office and is this employee above us. What is the post office going to do about this!!!!!!

    May 17, 2021

Pages