What is Considered ‘Essential Critical Infrastructure’ During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Posted on 3/25/2020

Following the lead of California and New York, Governor of Washington state Jay Inslee recently ordered a two-week stay-at-home order for the state’s 7 million residents. All businesses that are not deemed “essential” must close by Wednesday evening, but what exactly constitutes a business being part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce?

The full list in Washington, posted here, provides a detailed overview of occupations “critical to public health and safety, as well as economic national security.” This includes, but not limited to: health care, law enforcement, public works, and food and agriculture (e.g. grocery stores).

Washington’s critical infrastructure list essentially mirrors the same guidelines outlined by the Department of Homeland Security’s “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.” While thorough, DHS has no power to enforce these recommendations, “We recognize that State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role,” says guidance on the DHS website.

While defense contractors in the defense industrial base have been deemed “essential to continued critical infrastructure viability” by DHS, implications for stay-at-home orders may have a severe detriment on the supply chain of U.S. military installations. It is clear that restrictions that dictate self-quarantine are based on the decisions made by regional authorities, but must look at the “big picture” of how military communities may be affected.

Post courtesy of the Association of Defense Communities

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