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Veteran Richmond mail carrier fearful, anxious about COVID-19
RICHMOND, B.C. -- She’s been delivering mail for 15 years and has never experienced fear or anxiety at work. But for Lauri Kerr and thousands of other Canada Post mail carriers, COVID-19 has changed how they feel about their jobs.
"I’m touching product that’s been handled by, I don’t even know how many people," said Kerr. "I have a young child at a home, and the first thing I do when I get home is pretty much take everything off and throw it in the washing machine. I want to make sure my child stays safe."
Like all Metro Vancouver mail carriers, the letters and packages Kerr delivers are first sorted at a large international processing plant in Richmond. Bryan Schuck works there and is a member of the postal union’s health and safety committee.
"We’re touching a lot things, a lot of mail coming in, a lot of high touch surfaces. It only takes one person," said Schuck. "We’re always anxious, but we also realize how important we are to this community, right? We need to keep the mail flowing, people are waiting on things."
The plant has changed work flow to ensure fewer people are inside at one time and is sanitizing high-touch surfaces. "We’re trying to take it careful, telling people to take care of themselves first," said Schuck.
"On a health and safety level, we have been meeting with management constantly to make adjustments," said Kerr. "I’m not sure what can be done, expect for to keep the carriers out of the depots for as much of the time during the day."
Homeowners are being asked to sanitize their mail boxes or mail slots and any railings that lead to their front doors. They're also asked to stay a safe distance away from mail carriers when they’re accepting deliveries.
"Most mail carriers that I talk to, tensions are high. People are worried. They don’t want to bring this home to their elderly parents or their children. They fear for their own safety of course," said Kerr.
Mail delivery is an essential service, so despite her concerns, Kerr will keep working.
"The people I’ve dealt with on my route have been fantastic, leaving me notes thanking us for working hard and getting the product to them daily," she said. "It’s fantastic to see, and it's encouraging."