The coronavirus relief bill lets the US Post Office take a page from Amazon's delivery playbook
- As part of a $10 billion relief package for the US Postal Service, congress authorized the agency to create temporary delivery points.
- The goal is to reduce human contact and transmission of the coronavirus, and could look a lot like Amazon's locker delivery option.
- Earlier this week, lawmakers warned mail service could be in jeopardy as soon as June if solutions were not enacted.
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The Post Office could implement Amazon-like delivery points under the coronavirus relief bill approved by the Senate late Wednesday.
As part of the $2 trillion package, the United States Postal Service is authorized to "establish temporary delivery points, in such form and manner as the Postal Service determines necessary, to protect employees of the Postal Service and individuals receiving deliveries from the Postal Service."
In addition to the possible new delivery methods, the Post Office is also entitled to borrow up to $10 billion from the US Treasury to make up for lost operating revenue from the coronavirus pandemic.
Two lawmakers warned earlier this week that without significant aid, the postal service could shut down by June, and introduced a bill that would provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service while eliminating the agency's debt and requiring it to prioritize medical deliveries.
The Senate bill, on which the House of Representatives is set to vote Friday, falls short of that $25 billion ask. It also does not allow any of the borrowed money to be used to pay down debt. It does, however, prioritize medical deliveries in addition to the flexible delivery points.
Postal workers could be on the front lines of fighting the pandemic when a vaccine finally arrives thanks to a doomsday plan enacted in 2009, Wired reports. Under the executive order, the Post Office would be called upon in the event of a "widespread biological terror event" to deliver antibiotics or other medical necessities.
Still, employees aren't immune to the virus, of course, and many have fallen sick across the country as they continue to work. As of Friday, The New York Times reported 20 workers had been sickened among the agency's 630,000-strong workforce. That number has likely increased in recent days as the confirmed number of American cases topped 69,000 on Thursday.