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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.


RELATED: Postmaster General to testify before Senate on Friday


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: 205030

Reported Deaths: 2730
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40113612
Washington26647247
Marion23258322
Clackamas18748234
Lane13772158
Jackson11420146
Deschutes993180
Umatilla851786
Linn550479
Klamath475377
Yamhill474779
Polk393755
Douglas378580
Malheur359763
Josephine352972
Benton323922
Jefferson235738
Coos215737
Columbia188629
Union148724
Wasco143429
Lincoln141221
Crook127423
Hood River121633
Morrow115016
Clatsop10268
Baker99215
Curry68510
Tillamook6604
Grant5477
Lake4667
Harney4149
Wallowa1945
Gilliam751
Sherman661
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3801728

Reported Deaths: 63193
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124612924434
Riverside3013124618
San Bernardino2989764788
San Diego2812033770
Orange2726505103
Santa Clara1198942175
Kern1106041400
Sacramento1071991718
Fresno1027831720
Alameda893401285
Ventura815541028
San Joaquin744011432
Contra Costa70276810
Stanislaus631901068
Tulare49758849
Monterey43791419
San Mateo42604581
San Francisco37189555
Santa Barbara34572460
Solano33569266
Merced32253474
Sonoma30688323
Imperial28799741
Placer23345298
Kings23166247
San Luis Obispo21405261
Madera16586245
Santa Cruz16202208
Marin14170229
Yolo14118212
Shasta12580232
Butte12576194
El Dorado10339116
Napa998680
Sutter9614112
Yuba644850
San Benito609563
Lassen577524
Tehama571663
Nevada487875
Humboldt441546
Mendocino427450
Tuolumne418569
Amador372147
Lake355245
Glenn242527
Siskiyou238637
Colusa227918
Calaveras220056
Del Norte14488
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7356
Modoc5344
Mariposa4617
Trinity4165
Sierra1130
Alpine890
Unassigned330
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