U.S. Mint shutters West Point facility indefinitely, interrupting production
- Published: Apr 16, 2020, 4 PM
The West Point Mint's indefinite shutdown April 15 pursuant to coronavirus pandemic safety precautions will affect the production and release of precious metal bullion, collector coins and gold commemoratives.
The shutdown will also affect output of circulation-quality 2020-W America the Beautiful quarter dollars and Proof, Reverse Proof and Uncirculated Jefferson 5-cent coins issued as bonuses to annual Proof, Silver Proof and and Uncirculated Mint sets, respectively.
“Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County, New York, and out of an abundance of caution, the United States Mint (Mint) has temporarily suspended production at the Mint facility at West Point,” according to the April 15 release issued after 3 p.m. Eastern Time by U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White. “This action is being taken to further reduce the risk of Mint employee exposure to COVID-19. The Mint will resume production once it is deemed prudent to do so.”
U.S. Mint Director David J. Ryder said the precautionary measures are necessary.
“My commitment to the health and safety of the Mint workforce is unwavering and continues to be my highest priority” Ryder said. “These are challenging and unprecedented times, and decisions on Mint operations are made with the best interests of Mint employees first and foremost.”
During the temporary shutdown, the entire West Point facility will be thoroughly cleaned in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Protection guidelines.
The West Point Mint was previously shuttered on March 28 after a nonproduction employee at the facility tested positive for the virus. The facility remained closed for cleaning, with production resumed April 1.
The current shutdown will affect production including American Eagle gold, silver and platinum bullion coins and American Buffalo gold bullion coins; American Eagle and American Buffalo coins in Uncirculated and Proof finishes; and 2020-W Proof and Uncirculated Basketball Hall of Fame $5 gold coins.
The U.S. Mint did not disclose how many American Eagle bullion coins in each precious metal or American Buffalo gold coins it had in inventory before the April 15 production interruption.
“During the temporary suspension of operations at the Mint facility at West Point, the U.S. Mint will continue to make American Eagle and America the Beautiful silver bullion coins available to its network of Authorized Purchasers,” said White in answer to follow-up questions by Coin World. “American Eagle and American Buffalo gold coins will not be available.”
The 5-ounce silver coins are produced at the Philadelphia Mint which, like the Denver Mint, is fully operational, with both facilities primarily focused on production of coins for general circulation.
The Fort Knox Bullion Depository in Kentucky is also fully operational, White said.
Since Washington, D.C., is under a stay-at-home order, most Mint employees at Mint headquarters are working remotely.
“With limited staff and U.S. Mint Police present at Mint Headquarters, professional cleaning staff have instructions to rotate through the building every hour to wipe and disinfect touch surfaces,” White said. “Additional cleaning is being performed in common areas and at entrances and security checkpoints. Mission essential personnel who continue to work at Mint Headquarters wear facemasks and practice social distancing.”
U.S. Mint officials have also not disclosed how many examples of each numismatic product option already struck in precious metals at the West Point Mint are in inventory for shipment from the bureaus’s contracted order fulfillment center in Memphis, Tennessee, to customers who order them.
New product launches remain uncertain. As of April 15, the last numismatic product the U.S. Mint listed in its online sales catalog was the April 17 launch of sales of the 2020-S Silver Proof set.
“The U.S product schedule online accurately reflects the information we have at this time,” White said.
The 2020 product schedule identifies a half dozen anticipated West Point Mint products without listing specific release dates, and with the status listed as TBD (To Be Determined).
Those products are:
➤ Uncirculated 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce gold $50 coin
➤ Uncirculated 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce palladium $25 coin
➤ Proof 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce silver dollar coin
➤ Uncirculated 2020-W American Eagle 1-ounce silver dollar coin
➤ Proof 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary gold coin
➤ Proof 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary silver coin.
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