LAVALE — Robert Moore wondered why his bills weren’t arriving as usual, so he called some local utility companies and was told the postal service was running behind.
Moore, 88, of LaVale, said some of his mail was three to four weeks late.
While he appreciates the demands United States Postal Service workers have experienced because of COVID-19 mixed with a busy holiday delivery season, he doesn’t understand why local mail is sent 150 miles away to be processed.
“If they didn’t send all of our mail to Baltimore, maybe … it wouldn’t be such a problem,” Moore said and added he appreciates the service of local postal workers. “I think (the Cumberland Post Office) does the best they can.”
A banner alert at the top of the national postal service website Friday stated “USPS is experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience.”
When asked for details about the situation, Freda Sauter, USPS corporate communications, provided a statement that said the postal service delivered a record amount of packages this holiday season in the midst of the pandemic.
That “significantly impacted our workforce availability,” the statement read.
“Capacity challenges with airlifts and trucking for moving this historic volume of mail also led to temporary delays. These challenges were felt by shippers across the board.
“We are accepting all volumes being presented to us, which adds to the challenge of the workload,” the statement read.
“We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our employees, and we will continue to work around the clock to deliver all packages and mail entered into our system, including returns,” it said. “We thank our customers for their continued support and understanding.”
Citing the American Postal Workers Union, The Washington Post reported that nearly 19,000 USPS workers were in quarantine at the end of 2020 after becoming infected or exposed to COVID-19.
“The U.S. Postal Service has been under siege for months as record volumes of holiday packages and election mail ran up against a spike in coronavirus cases within its workforce, leaving the agency severely short-staffed,” the newspaper reported.
Delivery problems aren’t limited to the postal service.
CNBC.com reported that major carriers including FedEx and UPS have experienced extraordinary stress on their systems through the pandemic, which was worsened by the holiday shopping season’s e-commerce activity.
“On top of that, UPS and FedEx are likely to face even tighter capacity constraints in the months ahead as they prioritize shipments of millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine,” the website stated.
Meanwhile, Amazon is finding new ways to speed-up its deliveries.
This week, the company announced its first-ever purchase of 11 Boeing 767-300 aircraft that will join the network by 2022.
“Amazon Air’s fleet expansion comes at a time when customers are relying on fast, free shipping more than ever,” the company stated.