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Wyden and Merkley take up the cause of USPS, citing delayed prescriptions and ballot impacts

Oregon's U.S. Senators are demanding that the Postal Service leadership immediately address delays to prescription medications and the potential threat to mailed ballots.

Posted: Aug 18, 2020 11:06 AM
Updated: Aug 19, 2020 3:46 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon's U.S. Senators are demanding "immediate action" from the Trump-appointed chief of the U.S. Postal Service, citing reports of significant delays in the delivery of prescriptions medications for veterans.

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined 29 other senators in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, urging USPS to correct recent changes that are "needlessly delaying" veterans' access to prescription medications.

“Veterans and the VA should be able to count on USPS for the timely delivery of essential prescription drugs,” the senators wrote. “No veteran should have to wonder when their antidepressant or blood pressure medication may arrive – and the effects can be devastating if doses are missed.”

According to the senators, the VA fills about 80 percent of its prescriptions for veterans by mail, primarily using USPS for delivery. Deliveries generally arrive to about 330,000 veterans per day across the country.


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While the VA typically promises that those prescriptions will arrive within 3 to 5 days, Merkley and Wyden said that they have received reports from veterans and VA staff that they are now taking up to several weeks for delivery.

Merkley and Wyden joined several other members of Oregon's Congressional delegation in penning a letter to DeJoy last week, urging him to reverse a decision that would not automatically designate ballots as First Class mail — increasing the cost of elections "for already budget-strapped states" and threatening "to disenfranchise voters."

“Unexpected delays at any point during this window could easily prevent Oregonians’ and Americans’ ballots from counting in the November 3 general election,” the Oregon lawmakers wrote. “USPS’ own General Counsel Thomas Marshall has said the same. Make no mistake: We consider these contrived delays to be blatant election interference.”

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno addressed the election mail concerns in a statement last week after receiving a letter from USPS warning of potential impacts if ballots aren't sent with plenty of turnaround time or aren't labeled First Class mail.

“Fortunately, Oregon has two decades of experience working with our local contacts at the United States Postal Service and has an excellent partnership with them to ensure ongoing support for our elections," Clarno said. "We will of course continue to work with them and monitor any potential impact to both the mailing out of ballots to voters and the return of ballots."

On Tuesday, in an apparent response to the growing pressure to preserve USPS' ability to process and deliver election mail, DeJoy issued a statement promising to suspend changes at the agency until after the election.

"I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability," DeJoy said in part. "I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded."


EDIT: This story has been updated with the information about DeJoy's August 18 statement.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5057759

Reported Deaths: 74098
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152224027074
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581499
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus910641413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058627
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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