Four employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency announced Friday.
"4 staff who work at our headquarters building have been diagnosed with #COVID-19. I join the @FERC family in sharing that we’re all deeply saddened by this news," Republican Chairman Neil Chatterjee wrote on Twitter. "These valued members of our community have been working diligently throughout the #pandemic."
The agency’s headquarters is now closed to all staff and contractors until further notice. The building has been closed to the public since March 16, and the majority of FERC employees, including the commissioners and their staff, have been working remotely since then, according to a press release.
The agency has ceased receiving physical mail, requiring all filings to occur electronically.
Meanwhile, the White House outlined a plan in a memo last month to send federal employees back to their offices (E&E News PM, April 20). The memo gives agency heads discretion to create individual plans, including telework policies.
A spokesperson for the commission said FERC will take into account the recommendations of state and local governments as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when determining next steps.
Some Department of Energy political appointees, however, could return to work at the agency’s headquarters this week, even the number of cases continues to rise. DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes confirmed that Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette has asked some employees to return today as the department moves toward a full return of staff (Energywire, May 7).