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Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Issues Guidance on “Essential” Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19

Mar.19.2020

Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released guidance to help state and local jurisdictions and the private sector identify and manage their essential workforce while responding to coronavirus (COVID-19). The White House Coronavirus Guidelines direct that Critical Infrastructure Industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, has a special responsibility to maintain normal work schedules.

CISA executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s delegated responsibilities as assigned under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall Federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure. The list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers was developed in coordination with Federal agencies and the private sector as a guide to help decision-makers within communities understand how to ensure continuity of essential functions and critical workforce as they consider COVID-related restrictions in certain communities (e.g., shelter-in-place). The list can also inform critical infrastructure community decision-making to determine the sectors, sub sectors, segments, or critical functions that should continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) workforce and customer protection guidance.

There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, and the guidance goes into detail on identifying essential critical workforce for:

  • Healthcare/Public Health
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy (Electricity industry, Petroleum workers, and natural and propane gas workers)
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Public Works
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Other Community-Based Government Operations and Essential Functions
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Financial Services
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base

CISA cautions this guidance is only advisory, and should not be considered as a Federal directive or standard, explicitly recognizing that State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately responsible for implementing and executing response activities in their communities, while the U.S Government is in a supporting role.

Crowell is working with many clients to identify options to enable them to continue operations in support of critical infrastructure missions.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

Paul M. Rosen
Partner – Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 213.443.5577, +1 202.624.2500
Email: prosen@crowell.com
Evan D. Wolff
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2615
Email: ewolff@crowell.com
Laura J. Mitchell Baker
Associate – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2581
Email: lbaker@crowell.com
Leland P. Frost
Associate – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2920
Email: lfrost@crowell.com

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