While many things have changed in recent weeks, it’s been reassuring to see the mail carriers of the U.S. Postal Service continuing on their appointed rounds in Ketchikan.
We aren’t fully aware of how the pandemic has affected Postal Service personnel on a day-to-day basis. We do know, however, that they’re on the job here in Ketchikan and all across this country, keeping us connected, mailbox to mailbox. The continued presence of USPS workers and the service that they provide in the community gives a sense of stability in difficult times. Some things do continue to function as we’ve come to know and appreciate.
Sentiment aside, the U.S. Postal Service is essential service — and nowhere more so than in Alaska. In this far-flung state, the Postal Service connects individuals with each other and with commerce in this far-flung state. In addition, the bypass mail system here not only provides for the shipment of freight in Alaska, but can be a lifeline for the air carriers that provide for the mail transport.
The importance of U.S. Postal Service to Alaska is underscored by Rep. Don Young, who this past week joined with 25 other members of Congress to urge Senate and House leadership, in addition to the Trump administration, to include the U.S. Postal Service in any future federal relief packages related to the effects of COVID-19.
“The United States Postal Service is not only constitutionally-mandated, but serves as a vital lifeline to countless Alaskans in rural communities. It is an institution that must be preserved,” Young said in a prepared statement.
In their May 5 letter, Young and the other members of Congress acknowledge that USPS mail volume and revenue could decrease by more than 50% because of COVID-19 effects, potentially interrupting service.
“Now is not the time to debate reforms to USPS but rather to provide much needed relief to keep this important service operational,” they wrote.
In his separate statement, Young continued on that theme.
“Conversations surrounding USPS’s business model have merit, but amid this unprecedented public health crisis, we must ensure that USPS can continue serving Americans,” Young said. “More than ever, patients depend on USPS to deliver medications and protective equipment; in the near future, we’ll be depending on USPS to deliver at-home COVID-19 testing kits to our medical providers for analysis. Letting USPS become insolvent simply isn’t an option.”
We agree. The U.S. Postal Service performs a vital function. Congress and the Trump administration should work together to maintain the viability of the USPS.