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Thousands Of Poorly Protected Postal Workers Sick With Covid-19

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

For months, one postal worker had been doing all she could to protect herself from COVID-19. She wore a mask long before it was required at her plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She avoided the lunch room, where she saw little social distancing, and ate in her car.

The stakes felt especially high. Her husband, a postal worker in the same facility, was at high risk because his immune system is compromised by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. And the 20-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service knew that her job, operating a machine that sorts mail by ZIP code, would be vital to processing the flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall.

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Can Our Depleted Postal Service Handle A National Election By Mail?

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Two weeks after the polls closed in this year's Ohio primary, two U.S. Postal Service employees showed up in the office of Diane Noonan, the director of elections in Butler County. The workers carried a tray of 317 unopened ballots that had been sitting in a Postal Service warehouse since the day before the election.

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How Panic Buying Strains Vital Food Banks

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

For Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the spike in demand has been as dramatic as the arrival of the coronavirus. In a normal year, Rodriguez's organization provides food for some 50 million meals through a network of 1,000 pantries, food kitchens and other affiliates. But the pandemic meant that some of his bigger food pantries saw 50 percent more traffic almost overnight. And people who had previously donated food were now, for the first time in their lives, asking for help feeding their families.

The disaster-like level of need is only one problem. Panic shopping by consumers has left grocery stores with little left over to donate, Rodriguez said, leaving the Community FoodBank without its most reliable supply of provisions. To keep feeding its clients, he said, his organization has been forced to vie with national grocery chains to buy basic items, paying 15 percent more than only a month or so ago.

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