On March 19, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the US Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum and associated guidance designating physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists as “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

According to the official guidance, which is intended to help state and local officials make safe and prudent decisions for the health and safety of their communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, “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.”

Furthermore, the guidance promotes “the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives,” as their job functions are “crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions.”
However, the release emphasizes that the list of essential workers “is advisory in nature” and that it “is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.” Again, it is intended to help guide decisions at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, as these governing bodies are “ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role.”
Additionally, the guidance encourages workers to perform their jobs remotely whenever possible, stating that “in-person, non-mandatory activities should be delayed until the resumption of normal operations.”
See the full memorandum, guidance, and list of essential critical infrastructure workers here. We’ll continue to provide updates specific to the rehab therapy industry as more details emerge.