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Coronavirus

Denver health officials order coronavirus closure of U.S. Postal Service facility serving millions in Colorado, Wyoming

Denver Department of Public Health and Environment issued the order Thursday, the day after investigators said they were denied full access to the facility

David Rupert, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, walks through the sprawling Denver Processing and Distribution Center on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Denver health officials have ordered the closure of a United States Postal Service distribution center that handles all mail for Colorado and Wyoming, saying the facility has multiple confirmed cases of the coronavirus among its employees.

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KUSA-TV reports state health officials confirmed five workers have tested positive for the virus at the facility that employs about 1,800. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment issued the order Thursday, the day after investigators said they were denied full access to the facility.

The USPS said in a statement the closure notice did not cite any adverse findings and could affect the delivery of stimulus checks, prescription medications, personal correspondence and other vital goods delivered to more than 6.5 million customers in Colorado and Wyoming.

“We are meeting all CDC and federal guidelines for COVID-19,” the Postal Service’s Colorado branch said on Twitter. “USPS is an essential service.”

But the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment says it has “responded to clusters of COVID-19 cases involving multiple employees at several USPS locations over the last week.”

 “As part of any outbreak investigation, we work with facility management to obtain information about ill employees, identify common exposures and implement practices to prevent disease transmission and ensure the safety of employees and the public,” DDPHE said in a written statement. “In this case, however, the USPS not only failed to provide the necessary information, but they have not allowed inspections to support complete outbreak investigations.”

City officials said their intent is not to halt the delivery of mail or shut down a federal facility, but that they had no choice.

“This was a measure of last resort, and the only remaining tool we have to get the facility management’s attention and secure public health compliance during a pandemic,” the DDPHE statement said.

The city said it is “committed to resolving these concerns with federal authorities quickly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this staff and wire report.