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Postal workers seek COVID vaccine as essential workers; they're not on NYS eligibility list

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists them as essential workers under category 1B, and workers have been looking for answers from Albany.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — While other essential workers such as teachers and grocery store employees are now in line to get their COVID vaccine shots, one key group may be left out.

The members of this group probably visit your home or office almost every day of the week. We're talking about employees of the United State Postal System, especially mail carriers. 

They're out there in all sorts of weather, and like everybody they have to weather this coronavirus pandemic.

As President David Grosskopf , Jr. of the Western New York Branch 3 of the National Association of Letter Carriers union points out, "We're in the public every day, reaching every home and business ... six if not seven days a week. You know potential exposure and the importance of the service we provide should make common sense and make the case why we should be vaccinated."

But that's not happening in New York State. That's even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists them as essential workers under category 1B. The letter carriers union says the neighboring states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut have done so.

That may be because they apparently agree with this reasoning Grosskopf says: "A lot of times your letter carrier for a lot of folks is the only person that they physically will come in contact with or verbally come in contact with on a daily basis. You know to check up on an individual's well being."

Then the numbers. Grosskopf says for letter carriers alone across the state, and there are some 26,000, there have been at least 2,000 positive cases and 10 fatalities.

One mail carrier in the Buffalo area, Jody Kotowski of Depew, died in December, although that case may have been traced to a family member. 

Whatever the case, the union would like some answers. Their leaders across the state have asked and a request came from Washington as well.

"The U.S. Postal Service at every level, including the headquarters level, has gone to New York state to inquire about this," Grosskopf says. "And I don't know why but mum's the word. They're not getting back to any of us, you know, with any type of a response."

2 On Your Side asked as well. A state health department spokesman said, "We see this. We'll get back to you," but there has not been another response.