DENVER (CBS4/AP) - A U.S. Postal Service facility in Denver is defying orders to shut down after the city and county health department reported multiple COVID-19 cases among employees. The massive sorting facility at 53rd and Quebec Street handles mail for all of Colorado and Wyoming.
The 840,000-square-foot mail facility, the fourth largest in the United States, has about 2,000 workers.
Officials with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) said they issued the closure order as a last resort -- because USPS officials are not cooperating with their investigation.
"...the USPS not only failed to provide the necessary information, but they have not allowed inspections to support complete outbreak investigations," DDPHE officials stated.
"It certainly is not our intent to halt the delivery of mail or shut down an essential federal facility," officials stated. "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."
USPS spokesman David Rupert said there is no current outbreak there and the last time a worker there was confirmed to have COVID-19 was May 2.
USPS officials also argue the facility provides an essential service.
"The Postal Service is an entity of the Federal Government, and the provision of postal services to the American people is designated as an essential function under federal law during times of emergency," USPS officials stated.
"This closure... has the potential to impact stimulus checks, prescription medications, personal correspondence, and vital goods delivered to the more than 6.5 million customers who live in Colorado and Wyoming."
In its order, Denver officials said the facility should remain closed until the facility can be sanitized and safety procedures, including employee being checked for symptoms and being required to wear face coverings, are followed. They also want the Postal Service to report any new coronavirus cases within 24 hours.
The Postal Service says is is meeting all CDC and federal guidelines for COVID-19.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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