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ONLY ON 2: Postal Worker Says Many Staffers Are Coming Down With COVID-19, And It's To Blame For Mail Delays

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago-area postal worker who is battling COVID-19 spoke out Monday out about the mail service delays and issues we've spent months uncovering, across the city and surrounding suburbs.

That worker told CBS 2's Tara Molina that staffers do not feel safe, with more and more of them coming down with the virus – and that's what's behind many of those delays.

You won't see the U.S. Postal Worker's face and their voice has been disguised, but what the worker wants you to hear is the other side of the story.

By now, you've probably heard about missing mail and delayed mail, you may be dealing with it. But you haven't heard this.

For months, every week, we've heard from Chicagoans who are frustrated about spotty mail service. It has resulted in missing checks, missing prescriptions, and major delays in service in general.

"You'll go and check at the Post Office and there's a line that is outrageous, because everyone is checking for their mail," Aquanetta Gutter of south suburban Riverdale told us last week.

Last week, after several detailed requests to determine exactly what's causing the delays and the missing mail, a USPS spokesman told us COVID cases inside local offices are behind at least some of the issues.

A total of 17,575 of their 644,000 employees nationwide have tested positive. Molina talked to one of them.

"It was scary," the worker said. "After your 14 days, you're supposed to return back that next day after that."

The Chicago-area USPS worker is at home right now battling COVID. They believe they got the virus at work.

Molina: "You believe that a lot of these delays and mail issues are related to positive COVID cases in post offices?"

Postal Worker: "Yes."

They reached out because they say there's more contributing to the delays than USPS is sharing.

"Sometimes we don't have enough manpower," the worker said.

And they don't feel safe at work because, internally, they claim the Postal Service is not sharing enough.

"It actually has been zero communication," they said.

They claim workers aren't alerted when a coworker tests positive – there's no contact tracing, and there's little direction for those who have to pick up or split a new route when a worker is out with the virus.

And that makes those delays worse, the postal worker said.

"I'm just another body in there, and if we've got enough bodies, we can get through the day," the postal worker said.

USPS spokesman Tim Norman denied those claims and said the Postal Service always shares information about positive cases with employees:

" Whenever the U.S. Postal Service learns that there is an employee at a Postal facility who tested positive for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the information is shared with employees at that location.

"We also reach out to the local public health office and will follow the guidance they provide and keep our employees apprised as new information and guidance becomes available.

"As you may know, 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 Postal Service cannot share the names of any employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or further specifics of their medical condition. The safety and well-being of our employees is our highest priority."

But the worker who talked to Molina maintains that's not true, and said there isn't enough being done to keep them safe or your mail coming when they can't deliver it.

"The mail doesn't stop," the worker said.

The USPS spokesman did not respond to Molina's request for information about which offices in this area are having the biggest staffing issues right now.

The worker Molina talked to said those issues are widespread, and there isn't one office or area that comes to mind.

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