To the editor:
I just returned from mailing a book to a colleague. I went to the nearest post office to my home on Broadway near West 230th Street.
The sign out front asked that the number of people be limited to 10, but there must have been at least 20 people waiting in line. Two window clerks were serving the line. Sometimes one or both window clerks would disappear for several minutes.
The line got longer.
By the time I got to the head of the line, there were 25 to 30 people waiting for service. Just as I got to the head of the line, both clerks stepped away. I yelled, “Where are the window clerks? There is no one serving this long line.”
Suddenly, both clerks appeared.
We in ZIP code 10463 have a COVID-positive test rate of about 9 percent. That means that every one of the people in the line represents a 9 percent probability of carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
If only 10 people were present in the line, each would have an approximately 60 percent chance of being exposed to the virus under the 9 percent positive test rate.
With 20 people, that probability gets very large. This post office could very well be a super-spreader site.
It is a lifeline for the many low-income people living around it. Lots of money orders are sold there because many people don’t have bank accounts.
So something has to be done that ensures service without imposing extraordinary health risk.
I seriously doubt the city’s health department even considers this problem. The local post office management surely sees what is happening, but takes no responsibility. I stayed to see what was happening. Now I would surely not repeat the experience, but most of the people have no idea of the risk intensity.
This building could be the site of many tragedies.