By Jon Dougherty

(TNS) While the coronavirus outbreak in the United States remains relatively contained with fewer than 160 known, diagnosed cases as of this writing, the country’s biggest banks are nevertheless preparing for a much wider pandemic.

The nation’s biggest financial institutions — Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs — are all dusting off disaster plans and getting ready to implement them at a moment’s notice if the nation’s financial situation were to significantly worsen due to a wider outbreak.

“We are asking some employees to work from home over the next two weeks just so we can test systems and remote access,” one person familiar with the process told Agence France Presse, who described the step as “typical contingency stuff.”

JPMorgan, for instance, has undertaken tests at a disaster recovery site in London and two in the United States, in Brooklyn and the state of New Jersey, a source told AFP.

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Firms have asked US and British regulators for flexibility on the rules, sources told AFP, confirming a report in the Financial Times.

US authorities have relaxed rules in early disaster-type scenarios, as in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy battered the New York region.

We keep hearing that the virus in on the cusp of a much wider outbreak in the United States. So far, such predictions have proven to be false. But even so, were one to occur, it needs to be put into context: An outbreak of coronavirus would have to be massive just to match the level of influenza outbreak, hospitalizations, and deaths this year alone, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And for the moment, we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.



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