DHS issues guidelines defining critical jobs during the coronavirus crisis

DHS issues guidelines defining critical jobs during the coronavirus crisis
© Greg Nash

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency on Thursday issued guidelines defining critical workers who the Trump administration is encouraging to maintain a “normal working schedule” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The workers defined as critical by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) span a wide variety of fields, including those in the healthcare sector and those working in grocery stores and delivering food.

The CISA guidelines were developed in response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE’s “Coronavirus Guidance for America” published earlier this week. In the earlier guidance, Trump told those working in a “critical infrastructure industry” as defined by DHS that they had “a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” 

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CISA Director Christopher Krebs emphasized in the introduction to the new guidelines that they were not “a federal directive,” and were “advisory in nature.”

“As State and local communities consider COVID-19-related restrictions, CISA is offering this list to assist prioritizing activities related to continuity of operations and incident response, including the appropriate movement of critical infrastructure workers within and between jurisdictions,” Krebs wrote. 

The extensive list of critical positions also include those in law enforcement, farm workers, veterinarians, petroleum and natural gas workers, mass transit employees, air traffic controllers, information technology professionals supporting critical networks, and those working in manufacturing, among many others.

While Krebs acknowledged that state and local governments are in charge of issuing mandates around critical workers, the guidance was meant to assist in that effort.

“CISA is offering this list to assist prioritizing activities related to continuity of operations and incident response, including the appropriate movement of critical infrastructure workers within and between jurisdictions,” Krebs wrote. 

The guidelines were issued as millions of Americans are working from home in an effort to suppress the spread of coronavirus. 

Trump’s earlier guidance for fighting back against the spread of coronavirus called for Americans to avoid social gatherings of more than ten people, to avoid traveling, to not visit nursing homes, and to practice good hygiene. 

CISA has previously addressed the coronavirus pandemic by issuing an alert earlier this month listing steps Americans are encouraged to take to protect themselves from cyberattacks while working from home.