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Omicron, Worker Shortages Exacerbating Shipping Delays, Shortages

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If you've been anxiously checking the tracking info on some of your packages, you're not alone.

USPS is dealing with shipping delays in part because of the recent COVID-19 surge. It's an issue people are seeing at the mailbox and on grocery store shelves.

"I literally was at work just stressing for hours like 'Man, I hope this package gets delivered,'" said Travis Wright.

The avid disc golfer from Minneapolis has been awaiting a mystery box of discs he ordered online before Christmas. It was supposed to arrive Monday, Jan. 12. The new mystery is when it will finally show up.

"I even saw my mailman before I left on my way to work today and he definitely didn't have it, so it's definitely not coming again today," he said Wednesday evening.

A USPS spokesperson says there's been delivery issues in the Twin Cities, adding, "Our workforce, like others, is not immune to the human impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We will continue flexing our available resources to match the workload and we are proud of the efforts of postal employees as they define essential public service every day."

Wright is frustrated, but understanding of the pandemic's side effects.

"It's kind of the general consensus. Everybody's sick right now," he said.

Postal Trucks
(credit: CBS)

Delivering mail isn't the only challenge. Shoppers at grocery stores continue to find empty shelves from canned goods to paper products. One reason is a truck driver shortage. CBS News learned from the American Trucker's Association that there's 80,000 fewer drivers right now. It's just one leg of an ongoing supply chain issue forcing customers to make changes.

Two men went to a Cub Foods in south Minneapolis to find a specific iced tea. Other stores they visited ran out. In some cases, they're debating buying a different brand if their preferred is missing.

"Sometimes [they'll] have the product available but it's not necessarily the price point you're looking for," they said.

As stores run short on some products, customers are running short on patience.

"It's not even like a good update on the tracking," said Wright of his shipping problem.

FedEx told WCCO the Omicron surge is also impacting its staffing and straining operations. Severe weather on the East and West coasts has also led caused delays for the company, with a spokesperson saying, "We are implementing contingency plans and adjusting operations to the best of our ability to continue providing the best possible service to our customers during these difficult times. Customers with questions about the status of their shipments can visit for updates."

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