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An Appeal to Support Our Essential Services and Critical Infrastructure Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a tremendous global challenge that we must work together to defeat. Now, our essential and critical workers are being relied upon to provide the services we expect every day and we must do everything to support them.


By Michael Train, President, Emerson

The coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a tremendous global challenge that we all must work together to defeat. For many of us, that means being home and trying to work or study as best we can while maintaining social distance and forgoing many of the activities that we might normally do with others. While this may seem like a massive intrusion into our daily lives, globally we must do this to slow the spread of the disease.

It is also a time where our essential and critical workers are being relied upon to provide services we expect every day, and we need to do everything we can to support them. The doctors, nurses and other health care professionals on the front lines dealing with potential cases while risking their own health deserve every ounce of admiration we can share. And it is encouraging to see the overwhelming support they are seeing from society and global leaders. Our laboratories that are totally overworked trying to process test results as fast as possible and get important information back to our families – I feel for them. And our grocery stores and gasoline stations and delivery companies trying to keep us stocked in the everyday things we need to live while being overwhelmed with demand are just doing a terrific job.

But there is another category of work that needs to be highlighted – the people who keep our electricity generated without interruption, the companies that provide our sources of energy and keep sanitizing cleaners coming to our neighborhoods, the water and waste management professionals who keep coming every day, our pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies and personal protective equipment companies that continue to develop, manufacture and deliver essential medical supplies. We have workers who keep hospitals running, operating rooms cool and medicines refrigerated so they can be used effectively. And a very complete set of supply chain partners and professional tradespeople providing the products and services many layers down to keep all of this critical infrastructure running. All of these people are leaving their homes and going to these facilities to keep things running around the clock, leveraging global supply chains that have been built to work in a connected and synchronized fashion while doing their best to social distance and stay away from an awful virus.

Right now, as many people around the world are embarking on several weeks of stay home and shelter in place orders from their government officials, we need to be diligent and isolate as effectively as possible. But we still need our essential services and critical infrastructure workers to continue to do their part, and we need the ongoing support from public officials and private sector leaders alike. It is their mission to perform these roles and get us through this challenging period. Government leaders around the world are operating in uncharted waters and are absolutely doing their best to help us all navigate these challenges.

My appeal to decision-makers globally – whether they are at the country, state, provincial or local level – as you move forward to issue the necessary stay home orders, please be cognizant of all the people working behind the scenes and incorporate their work into your plans. Beyond the brave and critical health care workers, we also need many factories to keep operating. It is essential these goods keep flowing to ensure critical infrastructure is maintained and necessary services can be accessed by the billions of people who need it. That includes allowing service technicians around the world to still be available to keep our systems running 24/7.

Please adopt orders that accommodate the ability to run these important factories and allow for the movement of goods and people to support this process. The United States Department of Homeland Security has issued Guidance for Essential-Critical Infrastructure Workforce which is proving to be very useful at capturing all the dynamics we need to happen right now. In addition, guidance from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and other global industry and government organizations is helping companies track state and local impacts on manufacturing operations and facilities as the situation continues to evolve.

Time is of the essence. This is clearly the week where the world will synchronize in order to break the cycle of the virus over the next few weeks. We can do this. We can beat this enemy. Thanks again to all on the front lines and thanks to our critical infrastructure companies and workers for leading the charge.

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