Regulators believe the risk to the public is low, but two U.S. Postal Service employees at the Pierre Post Office have tested positive for COVID-19.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman Floyd Wagoner confirmed the infections to the Capital Journal on Friday.
“We work closely with the local/county/state health departments in all COVID-19 cases and have reached out to the local public health office and will follow the guidance they provide,” Floyd stated. “We believe the risk is low for employees who work at the facility, but we will keep our employees apprised as new information and guidance becomes available.”
Floyd confirmed the Post Office infections despite the fact the South Dakota Department of Health did not.
“When a business has a case, even if transmission is identified among employees, the Department of Health does not issue a public notice if all close contacts can be identified,” South Dakota Department of Health spokesman Derrick Haskins stated to the Capital Journal upon being asked about the situation at the Post Office.
This prompted us to ask Haskins about why the Post Office matter was different from the following, all of which prompted state regulators to issue notice to the public:
Potential COVID exposure for those who were at Bob’s Lounge from 10 p.m. June 12 through 2 a.m. June 13, and from 10 p.m. June 13 through 2 a.m. June 14;
Potential COVID exposure for those who were at The Fieldhouse from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. June 12; and
Potential COVID exposure for those who were at The Chuckwagon from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on both June 13 and June 14.
“We issue public notices when a positive case is not able to identify all close contacts. A close contact is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick until the time the patient was isolated,” Haskins said when asked to explain why the Post Office situation was different from that of the local bars.
As for the Post Office, Wagoner said he could not provide more information as to the condition of the employees in question, or if they were still on the job. He cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information that states it is “unlikely” that COVID-19 would be spread by someone handling mail.
“Although the virus can survive for a short period of time on some surfaces, both CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General have indicated that it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging,” Wagoner added.
Meanwhile, in South Dakota on Friday, health officials said the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 reached 116, including the two from Hughes County. The department on Friday listed 15 active infections for Hughes County, but zero for Stanley County.