WASHINGTON, DC — Pet food and feed processors were listed as part of the United States’ “critical infrastructure” and are advised to continue business operations during the outbreak of COVID-19, said Christopher Krebs, director of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a memorandum on March 19.

President Donald Trump issued guidance on March 16 that stated, “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.” 

The DHS compiled the comprehensive list of critical businesses in collaboration with other federal agencies and members of the private sector.

“We recognize that state, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the federal government is in a supporting role,” Krebs said.

“As state and local communities consider COVID-19-related restrictions, CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] is offering this list to assist prioritizing activities related to continuity of operations and incident response, including the appropriate movement of critical infrastructure workers within and between jurisdictions,” he added.

The list also includes healthcare and public health sectors, law enforcement, public safety and first responders, energy, water and wastewater, transportation, public works, critical manufacturing, financial services, the defense industrial base, and other “community-based government operations” and functions.

“The list can also inform critical infrastructure community decision-making to determine the sectors, sub-sectors, segments, or critical functions that should continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) workforce and customer protection guidance,” Krebs said.

Segments of the companion animal health and wellness landscape, including pet supply retailers and veterinarians, have advocated for their essential roles in public human and animal health to government officials so they can keep their businesses open and continue to serve the needs of pets and pet owners during the pandemic.

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