Power industry may ask staff to live on site as coronavirus outbreak worsens

The U.S. power industry may ask essential staff to sleep on site as the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow, Reuters reported Friday.

Electric power plants are considered “critical infrastructure” by the federal government, meaning as local and state governments impose shutdowns, they will still have to go to work.

Industry trade groups and electric cooperatives told the wire service that companies are stockpiling beds, blankets and food for those employees.

“The focus needs to be on things that keep the lights on and the gas flowing,” Scott Aaronson, vice president of security and preparedness at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), told Reuters, adding that some “companies are already either sequestering a healthy group of their essential employees or are considering doing that and are identifying appropriate protocols to do that.”

Public health officials have urged the public to practice social distancing as a preventative measure to slow the spread of the virus. If workers who are deemed essential still leave, go to work and return to their homes, it puts the people they live with at risk of exposure. 

On Thursday night, California imposed a statewide shutdown, asking all citizens who do not work in those critical infrastructure industries not to leave their homes. Similar actions have been put in place in cities across America.