SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is having its staff work from home as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a move that other local businesses have also taken but that has not been adopted by the U.S. central bank as a whole.
“We have teleworking capabilities in place as part of our normal operations and, like many other companies, we are encouraging all employees who are able to work from home to do so,” the regional Fed bank said in a statement to Reuters on Wednesday, adding that it is “focused on delivering our important responsibilities through continuity of operations while being mindful of the safety and well-being of our workforce and the communities we serve.”
San Francisco is in one of the virus’ U.S. hotspots, with about 90 cases reported in the Bay Area. The bank also has branches in Seattle, one of the most severely affected cities, as well as Los Angeles, Portland and Salt Lake City.
Overall there are 12 regional outposts, and staff at two contacted by Reuters – Dallas Fed and Richmond Fed – were operating as usual.
Several other Fed banks contacted by Reuters, including those in New York, Chicago and Boston — cities which like San Francisco have a concentration of cases — did not respond to requests for information on any work-from-home directives.
There are more than 1,000 cases currently across the United States.
Deep concern about the rapid spread of the sometimes deadly virus prompted the World Health Organization on Wednesday to describe the coronavirus outbreak for the first time as a pandemic.
(Reporting by Ann Saphir with reporting by Katie Paul and Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Leslie Adler and Diane Craft)