“No one writes letters anymore,” an older friend said although she does have an I-Pad and can manage basic email and Facebook posts as she self-isolates.
Individuals who had perhaps never planned to embrace certain technologies are suddenly discovering unknown capabilities. Adapting can also come with frustrations, but in general, help is available to teach novices new ways of communicating.
Despite a surge in high tech connectivity, the U.S. Postal Service continues to provide a vital service in this time of upheaval. As with so many “routine” activities, the question of safety of the mail has been posed. According to the USPS website (https://about.usps.com/newsroom/statements/usps-statement-on-coronavirus.htm),
“Importantly, the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html), the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses), as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.
Specifically, according to the World Health Organization, “the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and 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.” And according to the CDC, “in general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. 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.”
Carriers, however, often cannot simply leave the mail in a box. The new procedure is also explained. “To reduce health risks, we also 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 politely 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.”
In returning to the older friend who misses letters, she does still live independently at home. Restricting visitation to residents in Assisted Living and similar facilities who are a highly vulnerable population was an early measure against potential spread of the COVID-19/Corona virus. With physical visits limited, cards and letters still very much have their place. Those, however, go through sorting at the facility prior to distribution which provides yet another layer of safety.
Brookwood Gardens of Signature Healthcare has posted the numerous ways residents can communicate with friends and relatives on their web site (https://www.ltcrevolution.com/novel-coronavirus). They specifically address mail. “Letters and Cards to residents from family, friends, and the community are encouraged and are coming in! We continue to be vigilant about safety precautions and ask that if you do send us resident letters, please remember good hand washing hygiene when handling the letters your loved ones will receive. We at Signature HealthCARE know these are difficult times for all involved. Our residents are our family, and we will continue, every day, to strive for excellence in their safety, health, quality of life and keeping them connected!”
For people at home, handwashing for 20 seconds after receiving mail is recommended if individuals do have concerns. Another option is to set mail aside in a designated spot for up to twenty-four hours after receipt.