Ann Arbor Weather:
Saturday July 11, 2020
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
The Stadium Rd. post office

Postal Peril

The death of one of their own brought the coronavirus home to local postal workers.

by Eve Silberman

From the June, 2020 issue

Ann Arbor mail carrier John Odegard started wearing a mask in early April after he heard that a local postal worker being treated for coronavirus symptoms was fighting for his life. "Holy smokes," he recalls thinking. "This is real!"

Art Serafinski, sixty-one, a manager based in the W. Stadium post office, died on April 20. Shaken, Odegard says, he became "religious" about keeping both mask and gloves on. "I'm constantly wiping down my vehicle," he says. "When I get home, I put my clothes in the wash."

Postal employees are considered "essential workers," and in some jobs, "you just can't do social distancing," says an Ann Arbor employee who asked for anonymity. People sorting packages "can't keep ten feet apart from each other." Serafinski, who was director of personnel for Ann Arbor, shared an office and filled in at the counter when needed.

Keith Combs, president of the Detroit chapter of the American Postal Workers Union, says that Serafinski was one of four Michigan postal workers who'd died of the virus by mid-May, and "at different times, hundreds of employees have taken sick leave." Those include those "exposed" but not ill and others who stayed home because of virus-related family needs.

"Management definitely could have done a better job" in preventive measures, he says. "Some stations were not receiving masks and hand sanitizers until recently." The Ann Arbor office declined comment and referred the Observer to Detroit-based spokeswoman Elizabeth Najduch, who said the office "was not granting interviews at this time." The anonymous Ann Arbor employee says that the Ann Arbor branches were slow to provide masks, but that they do now. Plexiglas barriers to shield counter workers have also been added.

Odegard, president of the Ann Arbor local of the mail carriers' union, says he knows of "five or six confirmed cases" among the area's 200-some carriers, with others quarantining because they were judged at risk or their families needed them.

Odegard says that, while a few customers have complained of mail delays, "I've never seen the public so kind to us, even at Christmas time." Some have donated hand sanitizers and even toilet paper. But "we wonder what will happen when the [quarantine] order is lifted ... Will the public be respectful of the six-foot [distancing] thing?"

He's frustrated that "some people think it's a hoax." What does he tell them?

"No, it's real. Ask Art's family."     (end of article)

[Originally published in June, 2020.]

 



 
Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

The Pretzel Bell Building
I Spy: May 2020
Sally Bjork
Fear of Calling
"Our paramedics are noticeably not as busy," reports Marc Breckenridge of Huron Valley Ambulance.
James Leonard
Ice Cream, No Cream
Non-dairy frozen treats are having a moment.
Micheline Maynard
Health Care - Women's Health
Nightspots: Oz's Music Environment
A2Zero
City council approved an ambitious $1 billion plan to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2030.
Michael Betzold
Restaurants - Delis, Sandwiches & Subs
Budget Impact
Mayor Christopher Taylor says Covid-19 will hit the city budget "negatively, absolutely, massively."
James Leonard
Social Groups
Health Care - Mental Health: Counseling
spark ann arbor
Delux Drapery offers window treatments in Ann Arbor, Michigan like draperies, curtains, shutters & H
Vicki's Wash and Wear Haircuts