As the nation continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, RSI is working with federal, state, and local governments to ensure that there are clear and consistent guidelines in place surrounding the continued operations of the railway supply industry. While the health and safety of employees always comes first, we are committed to ensuring that the railway supply industry continues to do its part in serving freight and passenger railroad customers as they meet the needs of our communities and the nation. Critical supplies and resources must keep moving on our rail systems without disruption. A reliable network of railway supply manufacturing, maintenance and repair facilities, and their employees, are crucial to ensuring that railroads can continue to support America’s COVID-19 response.
Individual State Restrictions on Manufacturing Operations
Multiple states have issued emergency orders to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has compiled a state-by-state list of these orders that is updated regularly and RSI continues to monitor each of them closely for potential impacts on railway supply operations. For businesses that have any concerns about how a specific restriction on business operations applies to their company, we note that many jurisdictions have set up specific procedures for companies to request a waiver and/or guidance from the appropriate state/local authority.
State-Level Orders on Vaccine Allocation
State responsibilities for COVID-19 vaccines include determining allocations to critical populations; receiving vaccine allocations from the federal government; managing the systems for ordering, distributing, and monitoring vaccines; supporting the administration of vaccines in a wide variety of health care and community settings; and engaging and communicating with communities in creative ways to address those who may face barriers to access or be hesitant to get the vaccine.
Many states have prioritized different critical populations for the COVID-19 vaccine, so it is important that companies review applicable orders and regulations governing vaccine allocations in your state. A compilation of the latest vaccination orders from all states can be found here.
Additionally, RSI has created two template letters to assist companies in confirming that their employees are classified as critical infrastructure workers, should they be needed:
Template Letter for Frontline Manufacturing Workers
Template Letter for Transportation & Logistics Workers
- National Governors Association COVID-19 Resources: Contains a list of publicly available state and territory vaccine public health pages or plans.
- Kaiser Family Foundation State Comparison Chart: Contains a side-by-side comparison of each state’s allocation plans as well as a status update for the phase each state is currently in (last updated January 25).
- CDC Vaccine Toolkit: Contains a toolkit designed for employers to communicate information about the vaccine to their employees.
Determining Vaccine Eligibility for Railway Suppliers
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that critical infrastructure workers, which includes both manufacturing and transportation workers, be eligible for early access to a COVID-19 vaccine. This guidance specifically recommends that frontline manufacturing workers, which are defined as the subset of essential workers likely at highest risk for work-related exposure because their work-related duties must be performed on-site and involve being in close proximity (<6 feet) to the public or to coworkers, be eligible in Phase 1b of vaccine distribution. It further recommends that all transportation and logistics workers be eligible in Phase 1c. Below are some of the definitions of workers included in each of these two categories as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a federal agency operating under U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversight. Most state governors have utilized these definitions in their respective vaccine allocation orders.
|Manufacturing Worker (Phase 1b in the CDC guidelines)||Transportation & Logistics Worker (Phase 1c in the CDC guidelines)|
|Workers necessary for the manufacturing of metals (including steel and aluminum) …||Workers supporting or enabling transportation and logistics functions … including workers that construct, maintain, rehabilitate, and inspect infrastructure …|
|Workers necessary for the manufacturing of … products and materials … for supply chains associated with transportation [or] building transportation equipment …||Mass transit workers providing critical transit services and performing critical or routine maintenance to mass transit infrastructure or equipment.|
|Workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains, and workers necessary to maintain a manufacturing operation in warm standby.||Vehicle repair, maintenance, and transportation equipment manufacturing and distribution facilities.|
|Workers manufacturing or providing parts and equipment that enable the maintenance and continued operation of essential businesses and facilities.||Workers who supply equipment and materials for maintenance of transportation equipment.|
|Workers who repair and maintain vehicles … rail equipment … and the equipment and infrastructure that enables operations that encompass movement of cargo and passengers.|
|Workers critical to the manufacturing, distribution, sales, rental, leasing, repair, and maintenance of vehicles and other equipment (including electric vehicle charging stations) and the supply chains that enable these operations to facilitate continuity of travel-related operations for essential workers.|