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Baltimore postal worker tests positive for coronavirus as disease spreads among essential workforce

A U.S. Postal Service employee working out of Baltimore’s Brooklyn branch has tested positive for the new coronavirus, a USPS spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Freda Sauter said in an email that while she could not reveal the employee’s identity or any details regarding the person’s current condition, the USPS believes the “risk is low” for other workers at the Brooklyn branch.

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The person’s role in the branch was also not disclosed.

The postal service is working with Baltimore’s health department and following its guidance on the matter, Sauter said.

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“The safety and well-being of our employees is our highest priority,” she added. “To ensure the health of our employees, we are continuing to follow recommended guidance and strategies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

The outbreak of the potentially lethal COVID-19 disease has sickened over 880,000 people worldwide and killed close to 40,000. While much of the U.S. workforce has transitioned to working from home to slow the spread of the contagious upper respiratory illness, employees deemed as “essential,” including postal workers, must balance reporting for duty with maintaining their health and safety.

In some offices, that means practicing social distancing, reducing the number of visitors and limiting direct contact with others whenever possible. A statement published on the USPS website on March 22 said the government entity had modified its customer signature procedures and encouraged customers to maintain at least six feet of distance when they drop off packages and other mailable items.

The USPS said there is likely little risk of spreading the virus from products or packaging. It is also offering liberal leave and has worked with its unions to temporarily expand leave options.

"Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods,” the statement reads. "The risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”

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