Morning Briefing - March 09, 2020
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March 09, 2020

In face of Coronavirus, DOE to Curb ‘Non-Essential’ Travel

By ExchangeMonitor

While the Department of Energy is not yet restricting travel inside the United States in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it is encouraging offices to “begin reducing non-essential domestic travel, as appropriate,” according to a Friday memo.

“We will look at this issue and provide additional guidance as needed,” the agency said in the travel guidance distributed Friday via a DOE email list and obtained by Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.

Agency managers should review all large conferences or gatherings involving more than 30 people arriving from multiple locations that are planned for the next 60 days, according to the memo. But outright cancellation would require approval from top Energy Department management.

A large contingent from the Energy Department, including Senior Adviser for Environmental Management William (Ike) White, are on the agenda this week for the annual Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix. Ten percent of the roughly 2,200 registrants reportedly canceled.

For “Non-Department Funded Work,” covering the national laboratories, National Nuclear Security Administration plants, and other contractors, the agency advised following “DOE policy and any additional restrictions placed on travel by the other agency, or the entity funding and sponsoring the SPP work.”

The department is prohibiting personnel from traveling to countries such as China and Iran that have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having significant outbreaks of the virus. Travel to certain parts of Italy and South Korea should also be avoided, the memo says. Energy Department officials should defer meetings with people traveling from these “do not travel” destinations identified by the U.S. State Department.

In addition, all non-essential international travel is suspended until further notice. The memo did not elaborate on what international travel is deemed essential.

As of Monday morning, national news outlets were reporting at least 22 deaths in the United States and confirmed cases in 34 states.

Questions can be emailed to the Consolidated Emergency Operations Center Watch Office:  doehqeoc@oem.doe.gov.