Identifying Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19

Created by U.S. Department of Homeland Security |

U.S. Chamber Urges State and Local Governments to Follow DHS Guidance on Essential Workforce

Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations. 

This guidance and accompanying list are intended to support State, Local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

This document gives guidance to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions and the private sector on defining essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives is crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions.

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, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof. Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21): PPD-21 identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors.



Chemical Sector

Commercial Facilities Sector

Communications Sector

Critical Manufacturing Sector

Dams Sector

Defense Industrial Base Sector

Emergency Services Sector

Energy Sector

Financial Services Sector

Food and Agriculture Sector

Government Facilities Sector

Healthcare and Public Health Sector

Information Technology Sector

Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste Sector

Transportation Systems Sector

Water and Wastewater Systems Sector



  1. What does it mean to be included on this list?
    1. The list of essential workers should be considered by state and local government officials as those with prioritized need for access and re-entry into, out of, and through areas where shelter-in-place, quarantine, cordons, and restricted areas. Different jurisdictions may come to different conclusions as to where essential worker accommodation is warranted based on the prevalence and density of certain infrastructure activity and assets in that area.
  2. My job/company is not listed; what now?
    1. The intricacies of different jurisdictions and industries means that it is impossible to identify every critical component of every industry across the country. Priorities will also change over time. This guidance is a starting point for jurisdictions to work with their local businesses and for businesses to communicate their needs to their partners in government.
    2. There is a well-established critical infrastructure community managed by CISA and partner Sector-Specific Agencies that includes avenues for engagement for government and industry.
  3. My company is not critical to the city where it is located, but interruptions to our services could be a crucial issue for other communities. How should I address this? 
    1. It is important for governments to remember that the impacts of interruptions to critical infrastructure services may be felt far from your borders. The downstream impact of a restriction on workers in your community must be considered.
    2. Identify critical functions within your supply chain (e.g., third-party vendors, suppliers, service providers, and contractors) who are necessary to maintain critical operations and services, and solutions if possible interruptions occur to the supply chain.
  4. How do I decide if a business or a business activity is critical?  
    1. For governments, examine the key employers in your jurisdiction and the key enablers of your communities (e.g., utilities, internet providers, food and medical providers) and consider also what companies are key contributors to supply chains/distribution or the digital infrastructure.
    2. For businesses, the focus during this response is maintaining the businesses and services that enable continued economic and social vitality. It is not focused on maintaining business as usual nor is it trying to sustain the operating capacity of non-critical businesses and industries


Visit the CISA website to learn more