COVID-19 death reported in outbreak at Denver postal facility, officials say; USPS denies claims

Posted at 4:58 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 21:08:47-04

DENVER — The U.S. Postal Service in Colorado is denying claims made by city officials that a person who tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at a Northeast Denver distribution facility had died of the new respiratory disease.

"There have been no deaths related to COVID-19 at this facility," said USPS manager of western area corporate communications David Rupert, in response to claims made earlier Friday by a Denver Joint Information Center spokeswoman, who said one of five cases identified at the USPS distribution center was fatal.

The conflict between the city and the distribution center started on Wednesday, a day before the facility, located at 7550 E. 53rd Place, was ordered to close by the City of Denver due to an outbreak of coronavirus.

The order to close came after the DDPHE visited the distribution facility in which “minimal observations” were made by city health investigators, who alleged the distribution center did not grant them full access and refused to provide vital information during their visit to the site.

The facility had not shut down as of Friday afternoon, though city officials, in a statement, said they met with Postal Service representatives and "both parties expressed a commitment to working together on the outbreak and complaint investigations for COVID-19 as well as broader issues when they arise."

"The city will continue to work with USPS to obtain information about additional cases, whether transmission appears to be ongoing, and to ensure controls are implemented," a statement from the city's Joint Information Center said.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-CO, on Friday had sent a letter to the Postmaster General Megan Brennan, asking her to address concerns over the facility and to shut it down.

“Our USPS is only as strong as the health of dedicated employees allows,” DeGette wrote. “I ask you to work closely with the DDPHE to help resolve this matter in a responsible, public health focused way. Furthermore, I request you provide clarity on how your national and regional offices are working with our nation’s public health departments to ensure that the safety of each employee remains the Postal Service’s top priority.”