After the White House issued an emergency declaration regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in late winter of 2020, many people began working from home. But like others deemed essential, U.S. Postal Service employees continued reporting to work. The mail had to keep moving; critical items such as medications, stimulus payments, and Social Security checks became even more important.

In a recent audit we looked at how well the Postal Service was able to move mail during the early stages of COVID. We found that despite unforeseen and uncontrollable challenges — higher package volumes and increased employee absenteeism due to the pandemic, among others — Postal Service management modified normal mail processing, customer service, and delivery operations well enough to mitigate the impact of the pandemic during the early stages.

We also found USPS generally coordinated and communicated regularly with commercial mail customers, conducting weekly meetings to inform the industry of any operational changes that impacted mailer operations. Additionally, management launched a COVID-19 Response Email Campaign reassuring commercial customers of minimal disruption.

We did find some things that could have been done or formulated better, such as the process for alerting delivery units of late arrivals from mail processing and distribution centers. And we identified opportunities to improve the process for prioritizing the delivery of postal products for medical purposes and to enhance the employee availability dashboard by including rural carriers. But the good news is while mail may have been slowed during the onset of the pandemic, it did indeed keep moving — and fairly well, all things considered.

We are continuing our work on service issues in certain harder hit areas and throughout the incredibly busy holiday mailing season. Additionally, in separate audit products we have analyzed or are reviewing impacts of operational changes and the performance of the Postal Service surrounding the election.

What has been your experience with the Postal Service during the COVID crisis? Have you seen consistent performance or has performance improved or declined with the continuing impacts of the pandemic?

Comments (40)

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  • anon

    Why are our rural carriers treated so bad?

    Feb 20, 2021
  • anon

    I have to say I feel awful for our rural carriers. They are forced to risk their lives everyday. They should not have to do that. They have to drive through unplowed roads and are exposed to Covid 19 on daily basis. I would think a federal job would care more about th heir employees. Yes we need our rural drivers but I would rather them be alive than get my mail personally. I think that they are essential and should be treated more fairly. I love our carriers. They are the most vital art if postal service and treated the worst.

    Feb 20, 2021
  • anon

    First off, I want to thank you for working hard and through not only the pandemic but through some challenging weather this winter 2021. Delivery has been slow but within a reasonable window considering circumstances. However, I had a Priority mail shipment that left Manhattan (NYC) and addressed to me 150 miles away in Massachusetts. It's been 9 days since it shipped and the tracking info says it is in Kent, WA nearly 3000 miles away from the destination. It also shows it going back and forth between NY, NY and Jersey City, NJ FOUR times before it was sent across the country to Kent, WA. I found this site while researching if other people are experiencing such dramatic delays. Again, I appreciate the work and the bravery it takes to keep things moving through these challenging times.

    Feb 16, 2021
  • anon

    Hello Rich. Thank you for your message. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Feb 23, 2021
  • anon

    I had mail sent from Tennessee department of homeland security and driver's license on January 13th 2021 and it still hasn't arrived yet I've gotten so many other pieces of mail from them dated after that date.

    Feb 11, 2021
  • anon

    I had a time sensitive documents that needed to be delivered to Virginia. Mailed using priority mail 2-day. The cashier confirms it will be there by January 25th, mailed on January 22th. Wasn't delivered until February 4th. Why did it take so long? Why did I pay for priority mail for it to take over 9 days to be delivered? We should be reimbursed if it takes longer than a week.

    Feb 04, 2021
  • anon

    Thg e post office is not performing will during the pandemic. Things were working well up to about July. After that, packages take an extremely long time to arrive. Ther is not tracking updates for days. It typically takes about 3 hours transit time between atlanta and augusta and about an hour between augusta and harlem. However, we are seeing more like 6-7 days between atlanta and augusta and 3-4 days between augusta and harlem. I can only assume that packages are just dumped in some massive pile and not processed first in / first out. Repeated requests for help or searches are ignored and there is no response. I could walk to FL and pick up my package quicker. It is still "in transit" 18 days after shipping. Unacceptable

    Feb 03, 2021
  • anon

    I began seeing other people's mail in my box when i moved here Apr 2019. I collected stacks of mail not mine weekly and put back into the outgoing with a note to the postal delivery person. Last month, I sent 2 bill payments Jan 1st, one located a mile from where I live, the other maybe 3 ml. 3 wks gone by, when I called the local post office, I was told there is no way to track mail, and because they were money orders, It wud cost $15 ea to stop pymnt. Almost 4 wks, they reached the destinations.

    Feb 03, 2021
  • anon

    During the week of the initial toilet paper shortages, long before the current Postmaster General assumed his position, we were literally doing route inspections in preparations to remove more routes and trucks. A process that had seen us go from over 50 routes to under 40 over the past 25 years. By the next week when governments started issuing stay at home orders and advice the postal service was suddenly upside down. With unprecedented numbers of people getting toilet paper, bottled water and cases of cat food mailed to them suddenly we did not have too many routes anymore but not enough truck space and carriers to deliver them. Flash forward almost a year with the average day starts at 6:30 AM. We take about 30 minutes to load up what large parcels are available. Since they take up so much cargo space, we have to move them to have room for the normal mail load. It takes about and hour to deliver those at the crack of dawn and when then return to prepare our routes for the 8-hour basic day. However, while those large parcels were being delivered the truck from Amazon arrives with another load of large pieces, so we are running near 10 hours to complete a route. Due to staff shortages from quarantines and now injuries from falling in the dark we are also tasked to carry half of another route, in the book that is 3 hours putting us at a 13-hour day when we are supposed to be limited to just 12 hours. Now because the route is vacant there is an extra heavy parcel load and/or heavier than normal mail because the route had been skipped for days awaiting an available carrier, so they plan on that 3 hours to take 4 or more hours after this years’ experience. Which brings the base day to 14-hours. And in the end many still do not finish and bring back part of the routes and then you get the false stop the clock scans as the news of the just added delivery day option on our scanners has not made it down to closing supervisors

    Jan 31, 2021
  • anon

    I know that the USPS is trying to do its best with understaffing, Covid 19 restrictions and all the wonderful new limitations of this pandemic. BUT, it still seems that the USPS has no regard for the customer whomever that might be. Bills are late, packages are lost and all the while in this craziness while looking for my lost packages your response is the Covid 19. This has been an absolute disaster on both ends. The USPS is always and will be a government entity. Please try and live up to that by DELIVERING the mail on time! I see your reports about packages not being scanned, lost packages and mail going to the MRC though GOV sales. This is an atrocity on the American public who pays YOUR bills. Send us our bills ON TIME and OUR packages ON TIME. And to the correct address of course. Stop beating around the bush and hire some decent hard working Americans who can think, talk, and chew gum at the same time. Customer service is overwhelmed but my God, please send help or get better help! Just because union employees don't like their job and are rude to people doesn't mean you can't send them to the unemployment line. Look at all these comments and WAKE UP!!

    Jan 29, 2021
  • anon

    Hello Troy. Thank you for your message. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Feb 23, 2021
  • anon

    My first stimulus check came by mail. The second one should also. Despite being told it was processed January 6 for mailing, as of today (January 24), I have not received it. My mother has a dividend check that comes every year shortly after the day issued (Dec 16). As of today, it has not been received. In talking with entities with whom I do business (e.g. my State Farm agent), they are also reporting long mail delays for transacting business and indicated they are also still awaiting their personal stimulus check. Something is "rotten" in Washington for these delays to continue and be acceptable.

    Jan 24, 2021
  • anon

    It says I've got 2 pkg and certified mail

    Jan 24, 2021
  • anon

    I have a package that has been in Baltimore for over a week. I have not been receiving any bills (electric phone television) and more. Including 2020 tax documents. If I don't receive my bills there will be a late fee. Is USPS going to pay them? Also I can't file taxes without documents.

    Jan 23, 2021
  • anon

    lost 3 money envelopes in the mail, envelopes only had a name and greeting "HAPPY HOLIDAYS". I think two envelopes were red and one was white. Two Red had Bowens in name one white had Rainey? I know this is a long shot, but if you could help it would be appreciated. Thank-you Glenna Bowens

    Jan 23, 2021
  • anon

    Bill mailed Dec 18 2020 arrived January 23 2021, Bill due Jan 15 2021. Ben Franklin would not be proud ! 37 day travel time from Virginia to Maryland. Stage coach or sail boat would have been faster

    Jan 23, 2021
  • anon

    Walking would have been faster!

    Jan 26, 2021
  • anon

    I live in Philadelphia and I'm happy to share my experience. I was very impressed by how the USPS handled the mail and package delivery from March 2020 until November 2020. In the first months, packages and mail were delivered timely. I was very happy with my service. Since November, the services have just fallen apart. It takes 3-4 weeks for a ground shipment to cross the state of Pennsylvania. I read how sorting machines were being dismantled in Philadelphia distribution hubs in August 2020. In my lifetime, I've never seen the USPS fail so astonishingly in it's service. COVID has been with us since March 2020. Louis DeJoy has been with the US since the fall. Look, I get Mr. DeJoy has some sort of agenda. But I can't understand how slowing e-commerce and family packages during a pandemic has any benefit. He was hired to do a job. American small business are suffering if they can't ship timely. If he thought he could slow the mail and we'd want to blow up the postal service, he was wrong. We want him to change or get out, because what's going on isn't working.

    Jan 22, 2021
  • anon

    As a mail carrier, I know first hand that the delays that were experienced nation & international wide with USPS was due to the fact that Covid-19 affected all of our contracted middle people just as much as it was due to the fact that the volume went up exponentially. People were calling out sick (not just with USPS but again with all of our middle people), trucks, boats and planes were breaking down for being overworked. The world needs to wake up! There is no way in hell ONE human being is responsible for so many mishaps. Could it possibly be because the world has a fricken pandemic instead. Sheesh! You all give Mr. DeJoy too much credit.

    Jan 27, 2021
  • anon

    I have spoken to several and I do mean several people across the Untied States and everyone is saying the exact same thing. WHY IS OUR MAIL LATE ALL THE TIME!!!!!! People are receiving "BILLS", after their due dates, IF AT ALL, Christmas cards mailed early in December are still arriving and it is January 21. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE MAIL AND WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO FIX THE PROBLEM!!!!! Is the postal system going to pay the late fees on the BILLS we have that are late because they don't get to us when they are suppose to? This is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!!!!

    Jan 21, 2021
  • anon

    I found this response from USPS Customer Support last month to be very concerning. “Informed delivery in not totally accurate, especially in expected delivery windows. However you should still eventually receive the piece just no when expected. We have notified the carrier to be aware of this information.” I was able to locate some items that were misdelivered to a neighbor in error and other items are still missing.

    Jan 21, 2021
  • anon

    Certain pieces of my mail are arriving 4-6 weeks late. Some mail sent from Florida to me in Baltimore has still not arrived after weeks. A package from Brooklyn, NY, with tracking, is several days late. A magazine from a professional society, dated December 7, 2020, arrived January 20, 2021. I have no idea by what standard you judged the postal services to be causing minimal disruption, but that is certainly not my experience.

    Jan 21, 2021
  • anon

    The first-class mail delivery from Florida continues to be awful. Checks mailed to me on December 17th still have not arrived as of January 25th! And the January 17th checks, which normally arrive within 4 days, have also not arrived! I haven’t see such a delay of mail in my lifetime; it’s like we’ve suddenly become some third-world country. Trump’s destruction of the USPS in his attempt to win the election has been absolutely disgusting; I hope karma is coming to his supporters in the form of total financial ruin.

    Jan 25, 2021
  • anon

    I have to laugh after reading how well you think the Postal Service did in getting mail delivered during the pandemic. I for one think the Postal Service is doing a terrible job due to the fact that I mailed a priority mail 2day letter on December 21, 2020 to Hollywood, Florida and here it is 1 month later and my piece of mail still has not been delivered and I cannot get any information except that it is arriving later than expected but it is in transit to the next facility. I am really discouraged to see how my tax dollars are working for me.

    Jan 21, 2021
  • anon

    have had nothing but good service from the usps! pkg delayed a month but not lost. covid causing huge volume.if you're ordering online, you're part of the issue. that's fine. but don't complain.priority mail still the best deal when mailing heavy items.

    Jan 21, 2021
  • anon

    You guys are a mess.if you cant do your job at usps then step away and letvsomeonecelse do it.apparently you cabt read a calendar and mail delivery is too challengeing probably all biden supporters .wheres are stimil that wasmailed on 1/6/21 did it get sent to china

    Jan 21, 2021
  • anon

    I am horrified that I have had 13 packages "PICKED UP" in the past week with NO scanning upon pick up. 3 packages left to the same town one day; 2 have arrived (a week later) and one in the same batch hasn't even scanned! I had 6 packages scheduled for residential pick up yesterday. They were picked up and still NONE of them scanned. I had 4 packages picked up today, NONE of them scanned. I run a very small business and this has been a nightmare! I thought all packages that were picked up from scheduled pickup requests, HAD TO BE SCANNED upon pickup?? WHAT is going on? I have NO way of knowing where these packages are. I paid extra for priority mail to ensure tracking and safe delivery. Many of these items were time sensitive! ONE WEEK and the one package of 3, hasn't even been scanned yet! The items in my packages are custom orders and cannot be replaced. I'd like to know why my items aren't being scanned upon pick up and WHERE THEY are?? Shipping from 32606, mostly to 24073, but many other zips across the east coast. Hopefully, someone will answer this and not just post it with no response at all.

    Jan 20, 2021
  • anon

    This article is false- my packages are held up in District Heights,Md since 12/10-no help from the post office or customer service 10 inquiries.

    Jan 20, 2021
  • anon

    1. I never received my US Census form after 40 years with no problems. I have not relocated for 15 years. 2. First class mailings during the second week of December 2020 did not reach their destinations for a month. 3. My creditors and service providers assessed late fees and probably impacted my excellent credit rating. 4. Holiday gift parcels arrived too late for the celebrations although I followed the mailing deadlines. 5. Federal Express and UPS seemed to have no delays and delivered each parcel to my home's door. 6. I am glad Amazon and Walmart have reduced their dependence on you. 7. 2020 was a rough year for your patrons who pay a premium for PO Box service because we cannot have a home mail receptacle. My parcels were returned to the sender, lost, and stolen. SmartPost and SurePost failed me. Thank you for the opportunity to help improve your service.

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    The mail service in Chesapeake, VA, 23322 is beyond absurd. USPS's delivery/pick-up rate borders on criminally negligent. I have mail and packages missing, no one answers the phone at the post office when I call, and when visited in person, there are no satisfactory answers or plans to remedy the situation. Unbelievable! Maybe it's time for Congress to take a hard look at how this government agency is run and hold some people accountable.

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    Perhaps some people chose to use Covid-19 for an excuse to do bare minimum in my area. I thought the red flag ment a postal carrier was supposed to get your out going mail even you didn't have mail for delivery. I was told "unless you have mail to deliver, your outgoing mail won't be picked up until you do." When did the duty of a carrier's change? I'm working from home. This is totally unexpected! I'm physically challenged. I can't walk or drive to a mailbox. A complaint has been made. Maybe the postmaster here is misinformed. Hopefully it gets worked out.

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    The flag is a signal to those on mounted routes driven by rural letter carriers. Routes serviced by uniformed city letter carriers, especially those that walk are supposed to be skipped and the city carrier is expected to use the aggregate seconds saved to carry streets from another route. A walking letter carrier would be lucky to find outgoing mail in a quarter of boxes with the flag up

    Jan 20, 2021
  • anon

    Turned in a mail forwarding card on Dec 14 2020. Got first mail on January 12 2021. Today January 19 2021 got mail postmarked December 16 and December 17 2020. I don't see any logical reason for these delays. Could someone look in to this issue. Thanks Ron Trepanier

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    I’m I Raleigh NC and have. similar experience. I handed my change of address card to a postal employee. It’s been a month now. I am not getting any mail at ALL now. NOTHING at either address! Customer service promised a call back that I have yet to receive. I went back to ask for help at the same postal office location and was told to call an 800 number Custer service that won’t call me back.

    Jan 23, 2021
  • anon

    I understand we are in the midst of a pandemic, so the old "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" may not apply. What I don't understand is why do you still charge the same prices? For example, I've ordered several packages using USPS Priority Mail which takes normally 2-3 business days. I've tracked packages that arrive at the Sacramento sorting center that sit there sometimes 3-7 days before they are even sent to me. So for me, it's been frustrating because you still charge the same prices for services you're not performing. The fact that the US government choose Fed Ex and UPS over the USPS to deliver Covid vaccines speaks volumes about your reliability.

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    Our business is experiencing very late delivery of first class mail, We are now seeing about half of the first class letters taking 3 weeks and longer to reach a local address. We are receiving utility bills / general invoices on or even past due dates which is now costing us in late fees. There are first class pieces that were sent Dec 12th that have still not been received. Please put the sorter machines back in operation or find a way to cover the late fees we should not have to be paying . Imbus Enterprises

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    As long as DeVos is gone; usps should get better.

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    Trying to get my postal application in for employment opportunities here in Michigan. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be working. Honestly I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Any assistance or suggestions are greatly appreciated

    Jan 19, 2021
  • anon

    oh bio hoo, why is ups doing such a good job?

    Jan 18, 2021
  • anon

    I see several comments on here to the effect of: UPS and FedEx can do it.... Well, they had the liberty of limiting the volume entering their networks, something that USPS cannot do. If they accepted the total volume that they were supposed to, I bet they would have been in a similar situation. When the private sector companies did that, guess who got dumped on with the excess?

    Jan 28, 2021