To combat the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak, on March 31, 2020 Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide order to minimize non-essential gatherings and in-person contact. However, each Texas county is different when it comes to what they determine to be essential services and workers.
Governor Abbott said as of April 10, 2020 that he plans to allow businesses to reopen with an executive order that lifts the coronavirus or COVID-19 lock-down in a “safe” way. Abbott is aiming to find a balance between personal safety and economic security and focus on protecting lives while restoring livelihoods. It is not clear how this is to be accomplished. Although apparently testing for the coronavirus would be part of the plan.
The definition of an essential worker is someone required to work during a business shut down. Essential workers are typically designated by the state, along with the duties of the worker and the reasons for the closure of the business.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lists 14 categories applicable to the designation of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” – those usually required to deliver services around the clock. Essential workers in Texas mostly fall into the fourteen categories listed below, with a special focus on health care professionals, first responders, public workers, farmers and emergency services. The 14 categories include:
Healthcare workers: Doctors; dentists; nurses; pharmacists; social workers; workers who perform critical clinical research, development, and testing needed for the COVID-19 response; hospital and lab personnel; health manufacture workers; workers performing information technology and cybersecurity functions at healthcare and public health facilities, who cannot practically work remotely; Workers who manage health plans, billing, and health information, who cannot practically work remotely, etc.
First responders: Such as police; firefighters; fusion center workers; paramedics; emergency medical technicians; 911 call center operators; dispatchers; public agency workers responding to abuse and neglect of children, elders, and dependent adults, etc.
Public workers: Such as those who make sure public facilities are maintained including bridges, dams, locks, levees; workers who support the maintenance, operation and inspection of essential public works operations and facilities; exterminators, plumbers, electricians and other service providers, etc.
Food and agriculture workers and businesses: Such as grocery store workers, convenience store employees, and any other stores that sell food, pet food and beverages; restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations; food processing workers, including milk plants, packers, meat processors, cheese makers, slaughter houses, warehouse workers, farm stands and farmer’s markets; farmers and workers dealing with animal food, feed/ingredient production/packaging/distribution, manufacturing and packaging; transportation supporting animal agricultural industries; workers supporting the sanitation and pest control of all food manufacturing processes and operations; and many more.
Water and sanitation: Such as all workers required to maintain and manage drinking water and drainage infrastructures; workers at water authorities, wastewater collection facilities, community water systems, wastewater treatment facilities, workers who take care of repairing, sampling and sanitation; logistics, workers who tend to water testing and distribution, etc.
Energy workers: Such as those who are in the electricity, petroleum, natural and propane gas industries; those working in the electrical industry maintaining, restoring, developing, transporting, safety, distribution, expansion, fuel procurement, utility workers, maintenance technicians, call center staff; workers supporting the energy sector, regardless of the energy source; workers who maintain, ensure, or restore, or are involved in the development, transportation, fuel procurement, expansion, or operation of the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power.
Logistics and transportation: Such as dispatchers, repair and maintenance technicians and other support staff; trash collectors, mass transit workers, public and private postal workers, makers and distributors of packing materials, containers, pallets, crates, and related supplies that support distribution, packing and manufacturing industrial functions; employees supporting or enabling transportation functions; automotive repair, maintenance, and transportation equipment manufacturing and distribution facilities; truck drivers, railroad employees and contractors, maintenance crew, etc.
Manufacturing: Such as all workers responsible for making materials/products needed for medical supply chains and transportation, like sanitation and water, communications, food, energy and agriculture; workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed to manufacture medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE), etc.
Communications and information technology: Such as those working in the communications and information technology (IT) sectors; workers involved in or responsible for installing, distributing and maintaining communication infrastructures, technicians, operators, call centers, cable service providers, wire line and wireless providers, and those supporting other media services, radio, television; installation, maintenance and repair technicians; data center operators; workers who support command centers, including, but not limited to Network Operations Command Centers, Broadcast Operations Control Centers and Security Operations Command Centers; maintenance of communications infrastructure, etc.
Community government operations and essential functions: Elections personnel to include both public and private sector elections support; workers supporting the operations of the judicial system; weather forecasters; clergy; employees necessary to maintain news and media operations across various media; customs and immigration workers; employees supporting Census 2020; educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions; and many more.
Financial services: Such as lending and banking institutions; workers who are needed to provide, process and maintain systems for processing, verification, and recording of financial transactions; workers needed to maintain orderly market operations to ensure the continuity of financial transactions and services; workers who provide business, commercial, and consumer access to bank and non-bank financial services and lending services, etc.
Hazardous material management: Such as those who work at and maintain nuclear facilities, handle and manage medical and pharmaceuticals waste, medical material production and lab processing test kits; those who clean up the waste and maintain the digital systems infrastructure that supports hazmat materials management; workers at nuclear facilities; workers managing medical waste; workers managing waste from pharmaceuticals and medical material production; and workers at laboratories processing tests, etc.
Defense industrial base: Such as all workers who manage, support and maintain essential services needed to meet national security commitments to the U.S. military and the federal government; contractors or subcontractors that deliver services to the Department of Defense; software, aerospace and mechanical engineers, security personnel, IT and intelligence support, aircraft and weapon systems mechanics and maintainers, manufacturing workers; workers who support the essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military, etc.
Chemical management workers: Such as workers that support industrial gas and chemical supply chains, workers are chemical manufacturing plants, labs, distribution facilities, workers who transport basic raw chemical materials for production of consumer and industrial goods; workers supporting the safe transportation of chemicals; workers supporting the production of protective cleaning and medical solutions, personal protective equipment, disinfectants, etc.
Commercial facilities: Workers who support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint/coatings, and employees who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions; workers in hardware and building materials stores, consumer electronics, technology and appliances retail, and related merchant wholesalers and distributors.
Residential facilities and services: Workers in dependent care services, in support of workers in other essential products and services; workers in animal shelters; workers responsible for the leasing of residential properties to provide individuals and families with ready access to available housing; workers who support food, shelter, and social services;
Hygiene products and services: Workers who produce hygiene products; workers in laundromats, laundry services and dry cleaners; workers providing personal and household goods repair and maintenance.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Texas Essential Employee Attorney
If you or someone you care about has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, contact the dedicated Texas personal injury lawyers at Schuelke Law. Our knowledgeable team of personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of claims. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, call 512-337-3081 today.