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SLO mail carriers see increase in deliveries, adopt new safety protocols amid coronavirus

Posted at 9:43 AM, Apr 03, 2020

Shopping at local retailers is no longer allowed due to the coronavirus promoted shelter at home order, but online shopping is booming and that means Central Coast mail carriers are busy.

In the San Luis Obispo neighborhood of Foothill Boulevard and Ferrini Avenue, Wayne Ross has been delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service for over 25 years.

Over the past three weeks, Ross has noticed an increase in packages.

"I'd say it's heavier than usual as far as Amazon packages, what we call a spur," Ross said.

Many residents in the area where Ross delivers mail are Cal Poly students who have since returned home due to the closure of campus. Even in the absence of students, Ross is as busy as ever.

"Overall, I'm about the same," Ross said. "People who are home are ordering more but a lot of Cal Poly kids have gone home."

Fellow carriers at FedEx and UPS are also seeing an increase in deliveries.

To keep up with demand, FedEx announced Tuesday it would hire 300 employees in Denver alone.

But recruitment may be a struggle as postal carriers nationwide report safety concerns.

"No wipes, no hand sanitizer. There's no cleanliness at all, but they're telling us we're essential," Richard Hooker, a UPS mail carrier, told NBC Nightly News.

Another longtime mail carrier told NBC News that none of her colleagues feels safe right now.

Fresh off a safety meeting at the San Luis Obispo USPS headquarters, Ross wears gloves and disinfects his truck often.

"I don't talk to my customers quite as much or quite as close," Ross said. "Where normally you'd see people coming down the street and say hi, a lot of crossing the street."

And for Ross, the absence of customer interaction is perhaps the most difficult change.

"It is because that's one of the reasons I love this job," Ross said.

As we all cope with this abnormal reality, Ross says the people of SLO can expect at least one constant.

"Order away, we'll deliver it," Ross said. "San Luis Obispo carriers won't let you down."

Ross said he's thankful for the people on his route who leave him cards and other small thank you gifts.