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USPS employee in Louisville tests positive


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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An employee at the United States Postal Service processing and distribution center off Gardiner Lane has tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency confirmed on Monday.

The U.S. Postal Service learned that one of its Louisville employees “recently” tested positive for COVID-19, according to agency spokeswoman Susan Wright, who would not clarify when the employee received their test result or what condition they are in.

“At this time, we believe exposure risk for other employees at the Louisville P&DC facility is low, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments,” Wright said in a statement.

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Wright said that the agency is working to keep employees safe through following recommended strategies from the CDC and local health departments. But in a FAQ sheet sent to employees on March 20 and obtained by The Courier Journal Monday, the agency told employees that even if they someone in their family was exposed and is on a quarantine, they can show up to work — so long as they don’t show symptoms.

“As long as you are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you are authorized

to remain at work and perform your daily duties,” the FAQ says.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic, or the sickest, according to the CDC. However, the public health also notes that there been reports of asymptomatic infection with COVID-19.

The U.S. Postal Service isn’t the only federal agency that is telling its employees they can come to work so long as they appear to be without symptoms. On March 20, The Courier Journal reported that the Louisville VA Medical Center staff members have been instructed to keep coming to work if they don’t have symptoms of the coronavirus, even if they think they’ve been exposed.

When asked if employees who may have come in contact with the COVID-19 patient were asked to self-quarantine, Wright said she did not “have anything to add to the statement at this time.”

And when asked if employees would be paid if they decided to self-quarantine, Wright pointed to a statement issued by the company Sunday: “We are offering liberal leave and have worked with our postal unions to temporarily expand leave options for our employees.”

Wright did not answer a follow-up question on if the leave options would include paid leave for workers who decide to self-quarantine. Representatives from American Postal Workers Union Louisville Local #4 referred all questions to Wright when contacted by The Courier Journal.

Coronavirus live updates: Get the latest information on COVID-19 in Kentucky

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In her statement, Wright also pointed to releases from the CDC and World Health Organization that say that there is currently no evidence COVID-19 can spread through the mail.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a March 13 CNN coronavirus town hall that if the disease were to transfer onto something like mail, it would likely be a low concentration.

More than 600,000 people work for the U.S. Postal Service across the country. Like the government agency, United Parcel Service and FedEx said they are continuing to deliver packages while adhering to CDC guidelines to protect the safety of workers and customers. 

Reporter Matthew Glowicki contributed to this story.

Contact Ben Tobin at bjtobin@gannett.com and 502-582-4181 or follow on Twitter @TobinBen. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: subscribe.courier-journal.com.

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