Why Has The Mail Been So Slow?

Vivian Renkey, Writer

As the holidays arrived in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic continued, many turned to online shopping as a method to buy and send gifts to their loved ones. Shopping online was already popular during 2020, as the pandemic made shopping in person at stores to be both risky and a hassle. However, those who were supposed to receive cards and gifts through the mail began to notice something. Things weren’t arriving on time.

Although the crush of the holidays has passed, the mail problem seems to be continuing in 2021. Americans are wondering why their packages and letters are taking weeks to arrive and why a lot of mail is simply getting lost.

For years, USPS has been a service that many have counted on. Although the U.S. Postal Service is one of the most favorable federal agencies in the eyes of the general public (Pew Research Center), the recent delay of mail delivery has eroded citizens’ trust in USPS. According to the Washington Post, in federal court, the Postal Service reported that only 38 percent of mail had been delivered on time at the end of 2020.

Both adults and students have been affected by the slow speed the mail is being delivered at.

One resident of Frederick County that asked to remain anonymous talks about her experience with the mail. “I got a Christmas Card in the mail this week that was postmarked two months ago. I think it shows that there’s a problem with the mail that needs to be fixed, and we need answers about why it’s been so bad.”

Many students have also complained about papers they need for the upcoming hybrid semester not arriving on time.

This mail crisis isn’t just affecting those in Frederick, though. All around the country, citizens have been complaining about bills and packages they still haven’t received. Medications that ship through the mail have been arriving late, which can put the people that depend on them in danger.

So far, there has been confusion on why the mail has been so slow. One of the reasons is an increase in packages shipped this year. According to ShipMatrix, it is estimated that, between Christmas and Thanksgiving, over 3 billion packages were shipped. That is about 800 million more than last year. (Quartz)

In April of last year, USPS announced that their delivery speed will be affected by the pandemic. The agency released a statement on its website, saying “U.S. Postal Service priority mail products and first-class packages may require more time to be delivered due to limited transportation availability as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) impacts to the United States.”

This increased pressure on USPS has definitely played a role in the slowness of the mail. To solve this difficulty, Democrats of the House are calling for the Biden administration to replace Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump administration appointee who many blame for the mail issues (The Hill).

DeJoy has made many changes to USPS’s system, which were supposed to increase its efficiency. However, many criticize the Postmaster for his inexperience on the topic of mail delivery, and since he made changes to USPS, the delivery of mail has actually gotten slower. DeJoy made a number of controversial decisions, including refusing to replace essential equipment, like sorting machines and mailboxes, that he shut down (Now This News).

Politicians are also calling for postal reforms that can improve the agency’s efficiency.