Last week, NFDA brought together a coalition of national and state funeral associations, suppliers and other members of the funeral service profession to send a letter to President Donald Trump asking that he issue an executive order turning guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) naming funeral professionals as critical infrastructure workers into a mandate. An executive order would carry the force of law and take precedence over any state directives regarding critical infrastructure workers.
NFDA and the coalition also sent a similar letter to leaders in Congress asking them to craft legislation identifying deathcare workers amongst essential critical infrastructure workers.
NFDA is working with state funeral directors associations to urge each state’s governor to use their emergency powers to ensure deathcare workers are included in any state and/or local guidance or mandatory orders identifying essential critical infrastructure workers.
Last week, at NFDA’s urging, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance naming mortuary workers as “critical infrastructure workers,” underscoring the vital role funeral directors and others who work in deathcare play in responding to COVID-19 pandemic.
- See the full announcement here.
- Read the full guidance here.
- See an FAQ from NFDA about the DHS guidance here
This guidance helps define for state and local officials the professions that are essential to the pandemic response and does a few specific things for critical infrastructure workers:
- It notes they should have priority access to personal protective equipment
- It exempts them from “shelter-in-place” mandates.
While the DHS guidance does not address priority access to testing or a COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed, it does signal critical infrastructure workers would take precedence. The letter to the President and Congressional leaders asks for priority access to testing and a vaccine.
Until an executive order is issued by the President or federal legislation is crafted, funeral homes should reach out to their local or state department of public health to determine how the DHS guidance is being applied in their state.