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DHS Expands List of Essential Communications Workers

With broadband the essential connective tissue in the shelter-in-place age of coronavirus, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has expanded the list of communications workers considered essential workforce. 

The list is not a federal directive, but is meant to give state and local officials guidance as they decide who must be allowed to go to work even as they try to keep as many people sheltered at home as possible to prevent spread of the virus.  

Related: ITI Urges Consistent Essential Worker Guildelines 

According to USTelecom, which applauded the expansion, the list now includes "supply chain and logistics personnel, retail customer service personnel, and personnel responsible for infrastructure construction and restoration." 

DHS released the advisory list March 19. That guidance was prompted by the President's March 16 statement that “if you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” 

Related: Complete Coverage on How Coronavirus Is Impacting Communications 

“It is unprecedented the degree to which the nation is relying on its communications infrastructure for remote activities like telework, distance learning and telehealth. Americans are also counting on our sector to keep the lines of news, public safety, daily communication and entertainment open and running smoothly as we collectively cope with the COVID-19 pandemic," said Robert Mayer, USTelecom’s SVP for Cybersecurity and Innovation. He also chairs the Communications Sector Coordinating Council. “We’re up to this challenge, but our employees need freedom of movement and unique access to core business or customer locations to manage the health and security of our shared networks. Some functions can only be handled in-person.” 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.