Updated: 5/22/2020, 8:53 a.m.
A United States Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center that provides mail to all of Colorado and Wyoming says the center hasn’t closed even though Denver public health officials ordered it to stop operations after an investigation on Wednesday.
The state has reported multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases of employees who work inside the distribution center, according to a letter from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment that was sent to the facility.
DDPHE investigators conducted an investigation at the site on Wednesday but made minimal observations “due to the refusal of information and access to the facility,” according to the letter.
Denver public health officials said Thursday that they have responded to reports of COVID-19 about potential outbreaks at several USPS locations during the last week. They say they work with officials to stop the spread and identify problems about infections.
"In this case, however, the USPS not only failed to provide the necessary information, but they have not allowed inspections to support complete outbreak investigations," the officials said. "It certainly is not our intent to halt the delivery of mail or shut down an essential federal facility. This was a measure of last resort, and the only remaining tool we have to get the facility management’s attention and secure public health compliance during a pandemic."
The distribution center is at 7550 E. 53rd Place in Denver. In the letter, DDPHE said the facility has to stay closed until it disinfects all surfaces, COVID-19 control measures are implemented and a written plan to control the outbreak is submitted to the health department.
It is unclear when the letter was sent to the USPS. A spokesman with the facility said USPS received the letter on Thursday morning but the distribution center ran normally today.
“We strongly disagree with the Denver Public Health order, which was made without a visual verification, without advanced coordination with the team of postal employees working on these issues with Denver Public Health, and without the understanding of the Postal Service’s substantial, ongoing efforts to protect its employees and the public,” a statement from USPS said. “We have provided Denver Public Health the necessary documentation to satisfy their inquiry and are confident the order will be rescinded.”
Health officials in Denver said they are ready to work quickly with federal authorities to resolve their concerns with the facility.