Coronavirus in Florida: Are you an essential employee?


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA/WCMH) — With the possibility of a stay-at-home order in Florida, you might be wondering if you would be allowed to leave home and go to work.

Over the past week, a number of states, including California and New York have ordered millions of residents to stay home due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Monday that he would not at this point issue a stay-at-home order in Florida.

As of Monday morning, Florida has more than 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus. Hillsborough County has 58 cases, the most in Tampa Bay. Pinellas County had 38 cases and Sarasota County had 17.

A stay-at-home order is an order for residents to shelter in place during an emergency. In this case, to prevent the spread of an epidemic or pandemic.

If Florida issues a lockdown, residents would be forced to stay at home except to carry out essential tasks or to work in essential businesses.

So, what an essential job?

The Department of Homeland Security’s has issued guidance explaining what industries and their employees are essential.

According to Homeland Security, the following industries are considered essential to the infrastructure of the country:

  • Healthcare and public health
    • Hospital and laboratory personnel, caregivers, mental health workers, doctors, nurses, researchers, pharmacists, dentists, social workers, technicians, funeral home and cemetery workers.
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
    • Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians, 911 call center workers and those who oversee emergency service operations.
  • Communications and information technology
    • Technicians, operators, call centers, wireline and wireless providers, cable service providers, satellite operations, and manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment. Workers who support radio, television, and media service, including news reporters, weather forecasters, studio, and technicians for news gathering and reporting, data center operators, HVAC and electrical engineers, security personnel, IT managers, software and hardware engineers, and database administrators.
  • Chemical
    • Workers at manufacturing plants, workers in laboratories, workers at distribution facilities, workers who transport basic raw chemical materials to the producers of industrial and consumer goods, including hand sanitizers, food and food additives, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and paper products.
  • Government facilities
    • Election personnel, building employees, security staff, trade officials, custom workers, educators
  • Critical manufacturing
    • Workers who manufacture materials and products for medical supply chains, transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, dam operations, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, defense industrial base
  • Defense industrial base
    • Workers who support the U.S. military, including aerospace; mechanical and software engineers, manufacturing/production workers; IT support; security staff; security personnel; intelligence support, aircraft and weapon systems mechanics and maintainers.
  • Energy
    • Utilities and telecommunications staffers, natural gas/propane workers, the electricity industry, engineers, cybersecurity/risk management staff, and environmental remediation.
  • Financial
    • Bank employees, employees at other financial/lending institutions
  • Food and agriculture
    • Grocery store employees, pharmacy worker, some restaurant workers, including delivery drivers, company cafeterias, animal agriculture workers, and the food and beverage industries, farmers, food processing workers, warehouse workers, and food truck delivery drivers.
  • Nuclear reactors, materials, and waste
  • Transportation systems
    • Mass transit workers, auto repair and maintenance workers, trash collectors, postal and shipping workers, air traffic controllers, air transportation employees, dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, and workers who maintain and inspect infrastructure.
  • Public Works
    • Workers who inspect and maintain dams, locks, levees, bridges, sewer main breaks, traffic signals and buried/underground utilities.
  • Water
    • Employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure.

Some stay-at-home orders will have more exceptions, depending on the state. It’s unclear at this time if other businesses would be considered essential to Florida’s economy.

In Florida, restaurants, bars, taverns, pubs, banquet halls, cocktail lounges, breweries, cabarets, auditoriums, playhouses, bowling alleys, arcades, gyms, fitness studios and beaches are considered non-essential.

As always, check with your employer before you decide to stay home.


Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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