As a vital part of the nation’s emergency response structure, the Postal Service ensures that mail operations — a lifeline for impacted communities needing access to medications and essential items — are restored after an emergency or natural disaster.
The Postal Service, and the Post Office Department before it, have supported the American public during crises since the early days of the republic, from distributing the smallpox vaccine in the early 1800s to delivering essential items during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Postal Service has a formal role in the federal National Response Framework, which guides the country’s response to disasters and emergencies like hurricanes, bioterrorism, pandemics and other incidents. After an emergency, Americans rely on the Postal Service to deliverfood,medicine, and other necessities. Getting the mail up and running again can therefore be criticalfor many communities, as well as an important sign of a return to normalcy.
Helping respond to emergencies is nothing new for the Postal Service, and the Post Office Department that preceded it. For example, it delivered a lifesaving vaccine against smallpox to Americans in the early 1800s, distributed educational materials from public health officials to citizens during the 1918 influenza pandemic, and helped Hurricane Katrina survivors update their addresses so they could stay in touch with loved ones and receive critical disaster assistance information.
The OIG examined howthe Postal Service continues to support the American public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even as the outbreak affects postal operations.The Postal Service hasdelivered essential items likeprescriptions, unemploymentbenefit and stimulus payments, personal protective equipment, and coronavirus test kits.The Postal Service alsohas provided a backbone for the surge in ecommerce as more consumers buy household goods online.Ensuring the continuation ofmail service during this challenging timeis helpingto keep the American public stay safe, secure, and connected.
Kelly Delaney, Lawrence Scott Robinson, Ann Marie Spevacek, and Christopher Backley contributed to this report.