One in, one out at Island Post Offices

Edgartown, West Tisbury institute policies to encourage social distancing.

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A sign outside the West Tisbury Post Office explains the new policy. - Brian Dowd

Trips to the Post Office may take a little longer. 

Due to issues of too many people inside Post Office lobbies, two Island Post Offices are instituting a “one person in, one person out” policy for those using Post Office retail services. 

On Monday, signs outside the West Tisbury Post Office made clear that those waiting to conduct business at the Post Office counter would need to wait outside. 

“Per WT board of health, too many people were in line inside the lobby,” one of the signs reads. “The retail line now forms outside — one person in — one person out.”

The sign also asks people to please keep six feet distance, and to wear a mask. Another sign says only one person is allowed in the retail lobby at a time.

West Tisbury health agent Omar Johnson said there were concerns about too many people in the lobby. Johnson said he’s spoken with the postmaster to make sure people are being compliant. “Any changes to make it safer have been made,” Johnson said. “The aim was to make sure individuals were spacing properly, and that has been accomplished.”

Several Island residents waiting in line told The Times they were happy with the changes. Yvette Fogg, who lives in Chilmark, but has been getting her mail in West Tisbury for the past 20 years, said she liked that the queue had been set up outside.

“I think it’s smart,” she said. “I’d rather be outside.”

John Sparagana, who lives in West Tisbury, agreed. “I like this system better,” he said. “I think they’re doing a great job.”

Similarly, a sign reading “Social distancing enforced. One person out — one person in” was put on the door at the Edgartown Post Office. While the line wasn’t long Monday morning, those waiting in the outside queue complained about the system.

Stephen Doherty, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said Post Offices across the country have instituted changes to maintain proper social distancing, which for smaller buildings, like those on the Vineyard, means some people will have to wait outside.

“Unfortunately, in some offices that means limiting the number of people that can be in the lobby at one time,” Doherty said. 

While Doherty said there will be some wait time due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will also be a delay due to the volume of packages that are being processed. “What we’ve seen is with everybody stuck at home and a lot more brick-and-mortar stores closed, a lot more people are ordering things online, so the package volumes have really surged past what we normally see at Christmastime,” he said.

26 COMMENTS

  1. While this is the right thing to do, vineyard haven haven would be a much different story.
    The wt p.o has shelter from the sun– V.H. does not.
    Waits are ridiculous in V.H. it appears to me the V.H post office in under utilizing their newly installed lockers, and they could have someone designated to retrieve packages and certified mail during high traffic times at the least .

    • Last summer at Chilmark Chocolates, where there was always a long line in the hot sun, people brought umbrellas for protection.

      • Jackie, and BS– you both have valid points–however, you both miss my most pertinent point. That being that the V.H post office could improve it’s efficiency.
        And, BS — I don’t think that standing in the sun for a half hour is going to improve your chances of not contracting or not suffering serious effects if you do.
        You might even be putting yourself at risk of skin cancer, unless of course you have sun screen on, and if you do , you are not getting any vitamin “D” from the sun. Putting people outside is in fact risking the chance that elderly and medically compromised people may suffer from heat stroke.
        You BS argue the point that a mask is dangerous to some people, do you not?
        I will argue that some people may not tolerate standing in line in high temperatures and humid conditions, and it is certainly much more of a health risk– and don’t forget, there is already the mask requirement–double down on possible outcomes.
        The point– I reiterate– the V.H post office can do better.
        And Jackie– I stood in line at Chilmark Chocolates– It was never as long of a wait as at the VH PO , and it was so much more worth it 🙂

        • The post office of course could improve its efficiency. But it’s the post office, so they don’t. I agree with you— it’s awful and then unhealthy to stand outside in line in the hot sun.

  2. Vitamin D is a big part of helping our immune system fight off the virus. Come to think of it with all this government regulation why aren’t they educating the public about ways to fight off the virus?? Asking for a friend.

    • This is what happens when you believe the idiot who thinks internal Clorox and warm weather kill off the virus.

    • Bs– all we need to do is stick a flashlight up our butts and get some light into our bodies.
      Or perhaps inject some disinfectant into our veins..If you don’t have a syringe, or don’t like needles, you could just snort Ajax. Now, let me say that I think that is a really really stupid idea, but the president — your president, suggested it– care to defend stupid ?
      I am somewhat miffed as to why the liberal media is not embracing there ideas …

    • BS, the science you mention seems to be on the right track concerning Vitamin D and SARS COVID-2. However, there has to be significantly more research before Vitamin D can be seen as a panacea. It is being done, though. That Vitamin D can interrupt the replication of an influenza virus is comparatively old news. That it may inhibit the replication of corona virus is becoming a “hot topic.” I know these sources are definitely not written for public consumption, but they do confirm two things. The first is that Vitamin D as an inhibitor is being studied closely. The second is that not enough studies have been done YET to draw conclusions. Here are two very informative, and dry-as-a-bone sources worth a look. From Quesada-Gomez JM, Entrenas-Castillo M, Bouillon R. Vitamin D receptor stimulation to reduce acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in patients with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infections: Revised Ms SBMB 2020_166 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jun 11]. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2020;202:105719. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2020.105719 I cut-and-paste the following, “The major complication of SARS-Covid-19 pneumonitis is ARDS mediated by a variety of mechanisms that may be aggravated by vitamin D deficiency and tapered down by activation of the vitamin D receptor. Several randomized clinical trials using either oral vitamin D or oral calcifediol (25OHD) are ongoing and should provide guidelines within a few months.” Second, for any of those still awake, “Till date, only one recent paper addressed the relationship between vitamin D levels and the clinical outcomes of patients with Covid-19…although we do not assume that vitamin D plays a role in the pathogenesis of Covid-19, we do believe that its putative role in preventing or even treating the disease urgently needs to be further addressed.” Panfili, F M., et al. “Possible Role of Vitamin D in Covid-19 Infection in Pediatric Population.” Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 2020. This article addressing the Vitamin D issue in adults and in children. I have not searched these sources on Google, but you may find them there.

    • Now is a good time to have vitamin D levels checked. Then, if need be, aim to correct under the care of a doctor. But this should be done carefully. Excess supplementation of vitamin D, can have serious consequences.

      There is plenty of information about immunity out there. The government probably stays out of it because there’s no recommendation, product, or diet that is safe for everyone. In people with autoimmune conditions, even seemingly benign supplements, for example, can cause issues.

      I do agree that improving overall health is something to explore individually. But it’s important to acknowledge that some people have already done that and are still vulnerable. Some — even if they started off young and healthy — will still end up with severe COVID. The research as to why is ongoing.

      Even if we look to get healthier, we still have to take all the usual precautions to minimize transmission.

    • BS, I somehow missed that your mention of vitamin D was a reference to people standing in line when first replying. Seeing Don’s comment cleared that up. Oops. Thought you were just tossing out random virus-related issues as usual. lol

      To keep it brief, getting vitamin D from the sun isn’t the simple biological process it’s made out to be. That’s why even people who go outside often can test low and end up supplementing. Again, with caution.

      While I agree that keeping up to date on health developments is vital, would you really want the government telling you what to eat or take or do? You think it’s overreach when they tell us to wear masks or distance. Feels like you want it both ways if you’re expecting blanket guidance on internal measures.

  3. We all have to be proactive and research and get the best information. My physician has been checking my Vir D levels twice annually. Amongst other tests. Now, there is reference in the literature that hypothyroidism and/or Graves Disease may be involved with Covid. Add to that people with compromised immune systems for other reasons and many are at risk. It is up to us, individually, to get the best information and if one has a computer/iPad, iPhone or the like, it is a simple matter. I spend several hours at least each week, certainly a half hour daily, to try to get the best information. I am not going to rely on a government to tell me what I can find out for myself. Certainly, with all the time people are spending on social networks they can research a killer virus. Up to them.

  4. The PO should split up “package pickup” and “everything else.”

    At least half of the people there–probably more–simply want to get their package and leave. If they could do that at a separate window (whether inside or outside) it would speed everything up and would minimize the # of people who are waiting. Similarly, it makes no sense for the limited # of desk clerks (who are shipping things) to be tied up handing out packages.

    Split them up!

    Yes, some folks might have to wait in two lines (if they want to both mail and pick up) but most folks don’t do that, and the added speed will benefit everyone in the long run.

  5. The VH post office is a petri dish every day from morning to closing, with the line often extending all the way down to the back door. I wrote the USPS this morning complaining about it. One has to squeeze by all these people just to get mail from our own boxes. The line should be outside and the doors should be left open whenever possible. Frankly, the mail system here on the island is a disgrace. I have lived many places and have never had to endure such poor service. I use their “Informed Delivery” app and often packages take longer than a week after the app reports them as arrived to actually be delivered. It takes many days to get a letter from another town on the island. Frequently a long wait in line is required to retrieve a tiny package that could easily fit in a package locker or even my regular mailbox. I frequently receive mail addresses to other people. The list goes on and on of problems. I am worried about mail-in voting this fall considering how long the delays are at the PO.

  6. The wonderful thing about the internet it is so easy to confirm your preconceptions.
    Masks do not work. Check.
    If we do not all wear masks we will all die. Check.

  7. As much as I despise waiting in line….I guess that’s just how it has to be for now. I do agree that the post offices need to be better organized, utilize the lockers and/or have a pick up package only line. I can’t wait in line 45 minutes every time I go and last week I had to twice! Each item I had to pick up would have EASILY fit into one of the many lockers (Edgartown PO)

  8. Yes standing in line sucks but look at the bright side your not working in an under staffed unorganized building of complete chaos being chewed out by every other person that goes to your desk. These people are front line workers trying to help you get through your day and are not the ones responsible for the whole operation being all messed up. These poor desk clerks take a verbal beating all day long every day for something they personally have no control over.
    Think about that next time your ticked off because you were standing in line for an hour only to find someone put a slip in your box that was supposed to go in the box next to your. It’s not the desk clerks fault that this happened. Someone else made the mistakes and mistakes are going to happen when your dealing with the volume of packages they are dealing with and being understaffed. I could go on and on but the point is be nice to people that are trying to help you and be more understanding when they are short on patience from being screamed at all day every day.

  9. BIG T as irritated as I’ve been in the post office after waiting in line for a very long time, only to find that the yellow slip wasn’t mine, or they don’t have all my packages that I know were delivered (USPS informed delivery). I have never yelled or screamed at any of them. I believe they do have control over who puts the yellow slips where and if it’s wrong, it’s someone inside the post office’s fault. Why they don’t utilize the lockers? I do not understand, because the majority of the people waiting in line do have yellow slips.
    I pay extra to have anything shipped to my house instead of the PO; the only time I receive anything at the PO is because the seller didn’t offer FedEX or UPS. I learned my lesson MANY YEARS ago about the horrible way the post office works. It’s someone’s fault at the PO, certainly not those of us who have to have a PO (I have asked many times about getting a box at the end of my road and was told they can’t offer any more home deliveries)
    So when you go the PO and you see that little yellow slip, you have to take a deep breath and find something pleasant to think about while you wait in line.

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