On March 28, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an updated essential workers guidance for states and localities in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. CISA previously published a Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response on March 19 which initiated this guidance. NACo has also released an explainer on safer at home orders and essential services, which can be found here.
Critical infrastructure is imperative during the COVID-19 response efforts and certain industries have been identified as essential given their responsibilities for community well-being, public health and safety. The guidance and memorandum are navigation tools for counties in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
In updating this guidance, CISA collaborated with state and local governments, other federal agencies and the private sector. The guidance helps counties identify workers who support critical supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. This includes employees operating call centers, construction, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement and public works.
State, local, tribal and territorial governments are responsible for implementing and executing response activities, including decisions about access and reentry, in their communities, while the federal government is in a supporting role. According to CISA, officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance.
NACo will continue to monitor federal guidelines during the COVID-19 emergency.