9/20/21—From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, jobs were one of the first things to come into question, as businesses temporarily or permanently shut down and people isolated in their homes. Many didn’t have this opportunity, having to continue working through the peak of the pandemic and the spread of variants. These workers were placed at the top of the list to receive vaccines and may continue to be there for future boosters. Pre-pandemic, the term “essential worker” was foreign to some, and their jobs may not have been as appreciated as they are today. It’s important to learn about essential workers, knowing whether you fall into this category, and how to protect them as they continue to work through these trying times.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “essential workers” are those who conduct a range of operations and services in industries that are key to the continuity of critical functions in the United States. This vague term encompasses so many industries you may not be aware of. While healthcare workers are an obvious and vital part of essential workers, other industries include energy, childcare, water and wastewater, agriculture and food production, critical retail (i.e. grocery stores, hardware stores, mechanics), critical trades (construction workers, electricians, plumbers, etc.), transportation, and nonprofits and social service organizations.1 With this many industries, it’s no wonder that essential workers in the U.S. make up about 30 million American citizens.2
The importance of knowing who encompasses an essential worker relates not only to protecting these workers who risk their health, but also knowing who will be at the front of receiving future boosters or vaccines. Currently, only 43 states have essential worker directives in place. Twenty-one of those states use definitions provided by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as their guideline for determining essential workers. Of the 43 states with directives, the 23 which don’t use CISA’s guidelines have developed their own.1 To determine if you fall in the category of essential worker, or to learn about those deemed “essential” in your state, there are many informative online tools, including the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Tracker provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
As the world faces the ever-changing variants and guidelines of COVID-19, protecting our essential workers is now more important than ever, as they work to keep our communities functioning. Whether you are an essential worker, non-essential, or employer of essential workers, providing and practicing prevention is key. As recommended by the CDC, vaccination, practicing social distancing, masking, proper hand washing, and staying home when sick are all key factors of protection. For essential businesses, following these guidelines along with reliable contact tracing, like AlertTrace, are vital to worker protection.
AlertTrace is honored to be able to provide essential workers and their industries with fast, accurate contact tracing data. Our easy-to-implement program helps stop the spread of COVID within organizations, providing you and your essential workers the security to know that they are being protected every day, using quick and reliable data.
1 Suzanne Hultin, L. K. (n.d.). Covid-19: Essential Workers in the States. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/covid-19-essential-workers-in-the-states.aspx.
2 Terrell, K. (2020, December 23). Who is considered a frontline essential worker? AARP. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/work/working-at-50-plus/info-2020/covid-vaccine-essential-workers.html.
Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Tracker. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (2020, May 7). Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.uschamber.com/tracking-essential-COVID-19-workers.