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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

With Postal Service On The Brink, Rural Areas Have The Most To Lose

A row of individual mailboxes lined up in front of greenery.
Yannik Mika
/
Unsplash

The U.S. Postal Service is in trouble. It was already losing billions of dollars every year. Then COVID-19 happened.

The pandemic has people sending less mail, and that means reduced revenue for the USPS. But Ronnie Stutts, president of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, said there’s more to the Postal Service’s bottom line.

“We never were put in to make money,” Stutts said. “We were to give service to the people.”

Stutts pointed out that private companies, like FedEx and UPS, don’t go to every household in rural areas. Plus, he said the Postal Service does more than just deliver packages.

“Rural letter carriers have noticed that people’s mail has started stacking up in their boxes and other things happening,” he said. “And we have what we call heroes – we go in and find somebody whose fallen, the elderly have become ill, and we’re just kind of like a neighborhood watch.”

For the Postal Service to continue serving these communities, Stutts said, it desperately needs coronavirus stimulus money. As The Washington Post has reported, that’s something President Trump opposes.

If that’s the case, Stutts said one of the nation’s longest-running institutions could be on its last legs.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Do you have questions about COVID-19? How has this crisis affected you? Our reporters would love to hear from you. You can submit your question or share your story here.

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