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USPS officials in North Texas hoping for a better 'delivery December' than last year

COVID-19 slowed deliveries during the 2020 holiday season, but USPS officials said Tuesday they don't expect to see the same kind of delays this year.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The United States Postal Service wasn't on everyone's nice list during the 2020 holiday season -- but you can't entirely blame the agency. 

During a historic year plagued by a pandemic, COVID-19 cases slowed deliveries throughout the nation. 

On Dec. 22 of last year,18,750 postal workers were quarantined either because they got COVID-19 or came into contact with someone who had it.  

People who ordered gifts during Black Friday were still waiting for them to arrive at their doorstep three days out from Christmas.

UPS and FedEx endured hardships, but the USPS struggled the most per industry tracking firm ShipMatrix. 

It also set a record by delivering 1.1 billion packages. The USPS reported that demand for package delivery soared by 48% during the 2020 holiday season. 

RELATED: 7 tips to help stop porch pirates this holiday shipping season

Black Friday shopping also skyrocketed at least 21% compared to 2019, hauling in $9 billion in sales.

But 2021 is expected to be different, at least on the post office's side of things. 

Per Albert Ruiz, a strategic communications specialist for the USPS, the post office has hired 40,000 seasonal employees nationwide, invested in and leased package sorting annexes, converted 66,000 employees from pre-career to full-time career positions, and added 112 new sorting machines. 

Roughly 600 seasonal employees will be helping out in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where there are three major processing and distribution centers in Fort Worth, Dallas and Coppell. 

Roughly 293,000 packages are being processed a day this month at the Fort Worth facility. 

"It can be stressful around here," Ruiz said. "But we understand the importance when it comes to delivering during the holidays." 

Three of the new 112 sorting machines at the Dallas, Fort Worth and Coppell facilities speed up package sortation by 12 times compared to manual sortation. 

It scans packages as they enter a conveyor belt and pushes them into marked boxes that will take them to their desired locations. 

It can sort 3,000 packages an hour -- not the fastest machine in the building but less work for employees. 

Ruiz told WFAA that it's a game-changer for the post office, as the agency invests $40 billion to modernize its operations. 

"The mail never stops moving, and we're more than ready to get folks their packages during the holidays," Ruiz said.  

The dates below are the deadlines to guarantee your package arrives by Christmas. 

  • Dec. 15: USPS retail ground service
  • Dec.17: First-class mail service (including holiday greeting cards)
  • Dec. 17: First-class packages
  • Dec. 18: Priority Mail
  • Dec. 23: Priority Mail Express