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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified the U.S. chemical industry and its workers as Essential Critical Infrastructure, an industry sector that is critical to public health and safety, economic, and national security.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified the U.S. chemical industry and its workers as Essential Critical Infrastructure, an industry sector that is critical to public health and safety, economic, and national security. The March 19, 2020, “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response” from the agency recognized the chemical manufacturing sector and its employees as having “a special responsibility to maintain your work schedule.” The DHS expects the chemical industry to continue normal operations, while following CDC workforce and customer protection guidance.
The importance of chemistry’s role is evident today, at a time when chemicals enable myriad products needed to support live-saving medical care, including personal protective gear for front-line health workers; chemical biocides and disinfectants that are the active ingredients in cleaning products that eliminate bacteria and viruses on a personal, household, and industrial scale; and plastic products and packaging that help prevent contamination of food, medicine, personal care, and medical products while helping to prevent person-to-person transmission of disease-causing microorganisms.
Developed in collaboration with other federal agencies and the private sector, the agency said its list of "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” was “designed to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.” 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."
Several states, including California and New York, have issued Executive Orders in accordance with the DHS guidance on the chemical sector. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and its member companies are working closely with government officials at all levels to ensure that chemistry businesses can continue to support the effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and provide the products that are vital to everyday life. As state and local governments make their decisions regarding COVID-19 the DHS fully expects them to rely on its guidance and not place any undue restrictions that would impede chemical production, including the ability of employees to travel to work and the transportation of material to and from chemical facilities.