Update from Chuck Jones on Coronavirus
March 16, 2020
There has been a great deal of media coverage about coronavirus (COVID-19), especially how organizations such as universities and professional sports leagues are suspending their operations. As you all well know, our customers rely on us to keep the lights on – we operate as a critical part of this country’s infrastructure. At the same time, ensuring your continued health and safety is my top priority, one that is shared by every member of FirstEnergy’s leadership team.
To that end, we are taking a well-informed and measured response that protects our employees and the general public while also providing the power our customers need all day, every day.
Over the past week, we have ramped up our monitoring of the virus and have assembled our Health Emergency Response Team, comprised of medical experts as well as representatives from every major business unit in the company. This team is meeting daily to review updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), discuss their potential impact on our operations, and make recommendations to the leadership team.
Rest assured that while there are sporadic cases of COVID-19 in areas of our service territory, there are no confirmed cases among FirstEnergy employees. Currently, the company is at the Alert phase of the Health Emergency Response Plan, which involves the various business units reviewing their processes and performing necessary stress tests to ensure the company is well prepared if our operations are further impacted by the spread of the virus. For example, IT has tested the network for an increased number of employees accessing the VPN, HR is increasing FirstEnergy medical coverage to include screening for the virus, and Supply Chain is working to ensure critical suppliers remain operational. Similar steps are being taken across the company, and minimum staffing plans in various groups are being updated.
I’m confident that we are in a good position to continue monitoring COVID-19 and to respond swiftly and appropriately if needed, as the situation evolves. Please know that we will keep you and your supervisors updated with timely information as it becomes available.
Also note that at this time FirstEnergy has not instituted a ban on employees traveling or attending conferences. Each business unit can determine if large employee meetings should continue to be held or rescheduled. But I encourage all employees to use our virtual meeting tool, Teams, which is an easy and effective way of meeting remotely.
We understand that the situation continues to evolve, and events such as lengthy school closures across our territory can impact you and your family. We are working diligently to ensure guidelines are in place to help employees meet family needs, while balancing the important role we play in serving our customers. This is a time to promote flexibility where possible as we navigate this situation together.
Please remember that safety is our core value, and that includes your personal health. The best way to reduce the spread of any illness is by practicing good preventive measures. Continue to look out for yourself and for those around you.
President and Chief Executive Officer