ITHACA, N.Y.—Readers may remember the havoc mail delays wreaked toward the end of December, but unfortunately delays seem to still be happening. Even as the holidays have come and gone, staffing issues have continued to hinder mail deliveries.

Judy White, a resident of West Hill, said she had not received mail since Jan. 8, 2022, and that she had noticed residents occasionally receiving only packages, mostly from UPS, but not U.S. Postal Service mail. Her full delay lasted five days, until Jan. 13.

“Every day the mail truck has gone up the hill on the other side of the street, but it doesn’t come back down,” she said, just after she had seen the truck go up but hadn’t seen it come back down. She sees the same routine frequently.

Her neighbor, George McGonigal, also a member of Common Council representing the First Ward, had gone to the post office to collect his mail and see what could be done about the delays and he was told that postal carriers were out with COVID leaving the post office short-staffed.

Another resident, who lives on Chestnut Street, has also been frustrated with mail inconsistencies, which he first noticed a few years back when he never received a bank statement and which have gotten progressively worse with the pandemic.

“It upset me so much that I took out a post office box that I still have up at the main Warren Road office,” he said. The resident said he was beginning to consolidate credit card and bank accounts and have important items mailed to his house rather than the P.O. Box, but that the past week has made him change his mind and decide to keep the box open so he can reliably receive important statements.

During one of his bi-weekly P.O. Box checks, a postal service worker told him that of the 38 employees in the area, approximately 12 were out with COVID at that time.

Following the five-day delivery lapse, residents did receive mail resuming Saturday, Jan. 15, and have received bulky deliveries catching up for those five days throughout this past week. The unreliability, of course, makes it unclear whether lapses will happen in the future and for how long. White mentioned that she was waiting on the city and county tax bills, which she hopes she will receive this week as the bills are due by the end of the month.

Other readers have reached out about the delivery delays, their frustration exacerbated by the fact that the Ithaca Journal, the city’s sole daily print newspaper, sometimes comes days late now, rendering some of the news irrelevant. The Journal fired all of its delivery drivers in the fall, announcing that it would be relying on the USPS to deliver its daily editions.

Mark Lawrence, USPS strategic communications specialist for Upstate New York said that the pandemic is continuing to present unprecedented challenges that impact employee availability.

“As we move past these short-term availability issues, we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to assure that our Ithaca customers get the kind of first-class service that they’ve come to expect,” he said. He did not provide further comment.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...