March 11, 2020 / 9:19 PM / 17 days ago

U.S. Fed banks in NY, Boston and San Francisco encourage staff to work from home

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal Reserve staff at the bank’s New York, San Francisco and Boston branches are being encouraged to work from home as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the banks said Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 4, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The move has not been adopted by the Federal Reserve as a whole and appears to be focused on cities with a high concentration of coronavirus cases.

The New York Fed, which manages the Fed’s $4.2 trillion portfolio and conducts open market operations, said it is prepared to operate as usual even though some staffers are working remotely.

“The Federal Reserve Bank of New York continues to monitor developments related to the spread of COVID-19 and is prepared to conduct all of its business and market operations in any contingency,” the bank said in a statement.

New York state had more than 200 cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday. San Francisco is also part of a hot spot with about 90 cases reported in the Bay Area. The bank has branches in Seattle, one of the most severely affected cities, as well as Los Angeles, Portland and Salt Lake City.

“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 San Francisco Fed said in a statement to Reuters.

The Boston Fed said it was asking some staff to work remotely, restricting business travel and postponing group events.

The Fed had previously said it was canceling some conferences and banning international travel.

There are 12 regional Fed outposts, and staff at two contacted by Reuters - Dallas Fed and Richmond Fed - were operating as usual.

Fed policymakers, who met by phone last week before they delivered a surprise rate cut to temper the financial and economic strain from the fast-spreading virus, are due to meet again next week in Washington to discuss what many economists believe will be still more policy easing.

There are more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus currently across the United States.

Reporting by Ann Saphir with reporting by Katie Paul and Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Leslie Adler, Diane Craft and Cynthia Osterman

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