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No Snoozin' for You (If You're Essential): Treasury Secretary

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For workers in insurance, being classified as “essential” may involve more than an excuse to go into the office during a COVID-19 “shelter in place” period.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted Tuesday, in a statement about financial services sector workers’ status as “essential critical infrastructure workers,” that the ability to leave the house to go to work comes with responsibilities.


  • A copy of Steven Mnuchin’s statement is available here.
  • A copy of the CISA essential critical infrastructure workforce guidance is available here.
  • An article about insurance being classified as essential  is available here.

Many states have been trying to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19 pneumonia and COVID-19 heart inflammation, by shutting down schools and entertainment venues, and by encouraging or requiring many “nonessential workers” to work at home.

Officials at the federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, last week designated insurance as essential, in guidance about the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.”

CISA officials issued the guidance to flesh out a Coronavirus Guidance for America document that was issued by President Donald Trump March 16.

The president declared that, “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry… you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”

CISA listed insurance workers as being critical infrastructure workers, along with workers in the banking and capital markets industries.

Mnuchin has followed up with a statement of his own expressing his support for CISA’s designation of financial services workers as being essential.

“I strongly support the Department of Homeland Security’s recent guidance identifying financial services sector workers as essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response emergency,” Mnuchin said in his statement.

Mnuchin went on to imply that workers in insurance, banking and other financial services sectors should not see the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to come in to work two hours late.

“Consistent with the president’s guidelines, ‘if you work in a critical infrastructure sector, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,” Mnuchin said.

State and local governments must ensure the continuity of critical financial sector functions, Mnuchin said.

“Everyone should follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local officials regarding strategies to limit disease spread,” Mnuchin said. “We are dedicated to working closely with the financial services sector to ensure the safety of the workforce and continuity of operations to support our nation’s economy and all hardworking Americans.”

— Read Ways to Stress Test Your Business for Coronavirus Impacton ThinkAdvisor.

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