USPS Coronavirus Updates

**Updated Jan 13 2021**

Slow First Class and Certified Mail

The USPS is currently under a tremendous amount of strain and we really advise that all customers prepare for significant delays until further notice. Further, all aspects of the mail delivery process have been affected including the scanning, reporting on the website as well as the collection of signatures. Please be aware that we can only guarantee a handoff to the USPS within at worst 1 business day. Our efforts to investigate letter by letter issues are behind a long queue and we will keep doing so, but please plan accordingly.

This post from the USPS website really reflects the state of affairs:

The USPS has employed a long list of new policies to manage the evolving COVID-19 pandemic which can be found here, but we have pulled a few important updates:


How will the extended Priority Mail service commitments due to COVID-19 (per Industry Alert 4/17/20) affect Live Shipments?

The extended Priority Mail service commitments applies to any Live shipments destined to a 2 or 3 day delivery zone. Shippers may want to consider Priority Mail Express service for those delivery areas. 

In some parts of the country does the USPS now have an every other day delivery policy?

No, it is still the USPS policy to maintain current delivery schedules nationwide. However, due to COVID-19 and employee availability, there may be temporary delays to some mail delivery. 

Does language exist requiring the prioritization of delivering medical supplies? This would be in line with the announcement yesterday at White House briefing about FEMA Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force. Is this a USPS directive of some kind?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Public Law 116-136, March 27, 2020, Sec. 6001(c) provided the following language: 

(c) PRIORITIZATION OF DELIVERY FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES DURING COVID-19 EMERGENCY—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, during the COVID-19 emergency, the Postal Service— 

(1) shall prioritize delivery of postal products for medical purposes; and

(2) may establish temporary delivery points, in such form and manner as the Postal Service determines necessary, to protect employees of the Postal Service and individuals receiving deliveries from the Postal Service.

The Postal Service is still evaluating the impact of this language. However, we continue to move mail and packages according to the service standards for those products.

Due to COVID-19, my facility has taken additional measures to protect the health and welfare of our employees and residents, including requiring individuals entering the facility to comply with screening requests. How is the USPS handling delivery of mail and handling these restrictions?

While we understand customers’ desire to screen individuals entering their facilities, we cannot require our letter carriers to comply with such requests. Our carriers have privacy protections under Federal laws – such as the Privacy Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) – that may be violated if we require a carrier to be subjected to precautionary screenings by customers.

Although we cannot direct a carrier to submit to precautionary screenings, the Postal Service wants to do its best to ensure our business customers and their residents receive their mail. Please contact your local Post Office to discuss alternative options in lieu of requiring screening. Local management will work with you to ensure that the Postal Service can maintain continuity of delivery operations for your facility.

Please refer to our latest Industry Alert titled COVID-19: Policy for Customers Requiring Visitor Medical Screenings for Letter Carriers that can be found on the USPS Industry Outreach website at the url:

Will the USPS issue a national policy for Schools, colleges, and businesses that will be closed for an extended period of time? If so, how will this be handled?

The Postal Service has agreed to extend its normal 10-day hold to 30 days for closed businesses. Customers have the option to proactively request temporary holds of up to 30 days. Students should contact their college and university to clarify their processes because these schools independently manage their mail operations. Businesses also have the option to use Premium Forwarding Service Commercial™ to forward their mail to an alternate address. 

Will the 30-day extension be true for consumer customers as well that are not picking up their mail at this time?

The 30-day extension is being afforded to consumer customers also. At the end of the 30-day period, the Postal Service will re-evaluate the situation.

How will the Premium Forward Service be supported by USPS if the end site location is impacted by a closure?

Each post office has contingency plans to offload mail to an alternate local to provide continued services to customers. 

Will there be any modifications to Certified Mail or mail requiring signature deliveries with customers? If so, how will this be supported?

One significant measure being implemented is a temporary modification to mail handling procedures for mail that requires customer signatures. We recognize the close proximity and additional handling that occurs when employees must ask customers for a signature and government issued identification when required. To reduce health risks, we are temporarily modifying customer signature capture procedures. Effective immediately and until further notice, our employees will follow the temporary process below for signature service items. This process applies to all letter carriers:

Avoid ringing the doorbell when possible. Knock on the customer’s door. Avoid areas that may be frequently touched when knocking.

While maintaining a safe, appropriate distance, employees will request the customer’s first initial and last name.

For increased safety, employees will ask the customer to step back a safe distance or close the screen door/door so that they may leave the item in the mail receptacle or appropriate location by the customer door.

If there is no response, employees will follow the normal Notice Left process.

If there are delivery points on the route where social distancing recommendations are difficult to follow, alternative delivery methods can be explored. (Industry Alert – 3/20/20)

Can businesses provide a temporary alternate delivery address?

Customers may contact their local postmaster or station manager for temporary alternate delivery options. The Postal Service has extended is hold policy to 30 days for closed business. 

How is USPS delivering mail under shelter-in-place declarations?

The Postal Service is classified as an essential government service operation, which allows us to continue operations.

How are items requiring a signature handled with social distancing regulations in place?

To reduce health risks, we are temporarily modifying customer signature capture procedures.

While maintaining a safe, appropriate distance, employees will request the customer’s first initial and last name so that the employee can enter the information on the electronic screen or hard copy items such as return receipts, PS Forms 3811 and 3829.

For increased safety, employees will ask the customer to step back a safe distance or close the screen door/door so that they may leave the item in the mail receptacle or appropriate location by the customer door. 

Hold Mail

How will the Postal Service return Hold Mail to businesses when they reopen?

The Postal Service is committed to assisting businesses impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

For business customers, temporary modifications continue to be implemented on how mail is handled that must be returned to the delivery office due to a full box or a business not being open to receive delivery for an extended period. Current postal policy during the pandemic is to return the mail to the delivery office and hold it until April 30, 2020. In order to further accommodate businesses during this challenging time, this deadline is now being extended into a longer hold period through May 30, 2020. In addition, there will be a 15-day grace period following May 30, 2020, before mail items are returned to the sender.

Once the business reopens, delivery should immediately resume unless other arrangements have been made. Business customers may request to have their held mail delivered or they can pick it up at their local Post Office. If a business fails to make alternative delivery arrangements or does not submit a request to hold or forward its mail after May 30 and the 15-day grace period, the process of returning mail to the sender will resume. 

Business owners with held mail may be contacted by postal management to discuss alternative options.

Assistance will be extended as necessary to businesses who make contact after May 30, 2020, to ensure the cancellation of Moved Left No Address Orders and to immediately resume delivery.

How long will Caller Service mail be held?

Mail from the delivery route that cannot be delivered due to a business closure is returned to the delivery unit, and under new guidelines it will be held for 30 days. Customers can proactively request a temporary hold for their mail up to 30 days. Caller Box customers should contact their local office to discuss how they will be handling the pickup of this volume. Any high volume customer will be contacted to discuss pickup options as well.

Are there other options for Hold Mail? Can businesses provide a temporary alternate delivery address? Can the mail be held at the Post Office for pickup every few days?

Customers may contact their local postmaster or station manager for temporary alternate delivery options. The Postal Service has extended the hold policy to 30 days for closed businesses. 


How will claims be handled during this period? Will there be a single point of contact?

Customers who are required to bring damaged articles to their local Post Offices to have their claims approved will now have 90 days instead of 30 days. There are no changes to where or how to submit your claims.


During COVID-19 is it possible to complete PO Box customer verification through email?

The Postal Service does not plan to provide this verification at this time.

What is the Postal Service’s procedure for picking up mail from a Postal Service pickup box at an office that has closed due to COVID-19 prior to collection?

Postal Service employees will follow CDC guidelines while collecting mail and packages.

CDC states there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and how the virus spreads. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread primarily through air-borne respiratory droplets resulting from a sneeze, cough or ordinary speech. Although the virus can survive for a short period of time on some surfaces, both CDC and the United States Surgeon General have indicated that it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. 

Does the Postal Service anticipate closing facilities and shifting work?

Should that become the case, the USPS will follow its Continuity of Operations plan. The Postal Service has a variety of contingency plans to ensure continuity of operations in order to maintain service to our customers and mailers. For more information on this topic, please refer to the Industry Alert issued on March 19, 2020.

How should customers know if there are facility closures due to the Coronavirus? Can you please provide information sources for us to check?

While we understand you may want to know where employees are located, under the Rehabilitation Act and the Privacy Act, specific employee medical information must be kept confidential and may only be shared in very limited circumstances. Therefore, the USPS cannot share that information. The safety and well-being of our employees are our highest priorities, but we must also protect our employees’ privacy. And as with any facility closure, we follow standard Postal Continuity of Operations Procedures. As such, any operational impacts would be communicated using our established process of Industry Alerts and postings to USPS Service Alerts. 

If USPS facilities are impacted, will an Industry Alert be issued?

Yes, the Postal Service will follow its well establish processes for providing updates via Industry Alerts and USPS Service Alerts.