U.S. Steel plans to take blast furnace #4 at Gary Works offline starting in April for at least 48 days.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker is going forward with an outage for planned maintenance at a time when automotive plants across the United States have shuttered to be cleaned to stop the spread of coronavirus. The automotive industry consumes about 25% of American-made steel, including about 50% of the steel made at integrated mills like those along the Lake Michigan lakeshore in Northwest Indiana.

ArcelorMittal is idling Blast Furnace #4 in response to the shutdown of auto plants during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Steel advised investors Friday it now expects to lose 80 cents a share in the first quarter and said it was uncertain what impact the COVID-19 public health crisis would have, given how fast the situation was unfolding.

"We are focused on preserving cash and liquidity in the current market environment," CEO David Burritt said.

U.S. Steel does not expect shelter-in-place orders to disrupt its production and believes its mills will stay open during the public health emergency.

"The federal government and most other jurisdictions consider U. S. Steel to be part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, which is necessary for the economic prosperity, security and continuity of the United States," U.S. Steel spokeswoman Meaghan Cox said. "For this reason and due to the nature of our operations, we are not able to suspend work on short notice or have all people move to remote work."

The steelmaker said it has taken precautionary measures in response to the fast-spreading virus, including encouraging good hygiene and social distancing, including by letting some employees work from home when possible. U.S. Steel is limiting outsider access to its mills, avoiding large gatherings, banning non-essential travel and using telephone conferences to conduct meetings.
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