By Vice President of Politics and Policy David Edmonson

We are living in extraordinary times. The need to shelter-in-place has kept us away from our work places, schools, restaurants, and so many other locations that make up the settings of our usual lives. As we adjust to life at home, one fact has become clear: the internet is now the way we work, learn, and receive healthcare. When we think about which employees are considered “essential,” we must include those who are keeping the internet churning at an unprecedented rate.

Governors, county executives, and mayors have shown incredible leadership managing the effects of COVID-19. As state and local governments consider shelter-in-place orders, the essential businesses they exempt from those orders directly impacts the health, safety, and economic security of our nation’s industrial supply base and the service sectors that directly support it.

Around the world, information technology (IT) and IT infrastructure is supporting health care providers, educational institutions, first responders, the pharmaceutical industry, all levels of government, and countless others responding to the coronavirus. The ability to stay connected and communicate in real time requires ongoing maintenance.

Material disruption to or closure of significant operations could severely impact the IT industry’s ability to support these mission-critical endeavors. To help ensure the continuity, stability, and cybersecurity of these services, any shelter-in-place order’s list of essential business exemptions should include IT and IT services and their essential services vendors, including the provision of essential global, national, and local infrastructure for computing services, business infrastructure, communications, web-based services, and critical manufacturing.

Additionally, the delivery and pick-up of groceries, food and drinks, medical supplies, household staples, and other important items are already allowing Americans to stay at home while still keeping those channels of critical goods flowing. Similarly, transportation services help medical professionals and first responders attend to their life-saving shifts, bring vulnerable populations to necessary medical appointments, and allow those on the front lines battling the ability to get to where they need to go safely and on time.

From California to Massachusetts, we have seen governors act swiftly to ensure these professionals are able to continue their critical work. We applaud these executives and remind others that they have the authority to help keep these essentials operations up and running. In turn, it will empower those actively combatting the spread of coronavirus.

We urge local and state leaders to include the vital functions performed by IT, IT infrastructure, and delivery and transportation services when drafting the shelter-in-place orders’ essential business exemptions.