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Coronavirus Pandemic - Updated May 28, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic - Updated May 28, 2020

Created: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 13:02
Categories:
Pandemics

For WaterISAC's Coronavirus Pandemic Member Crowdsourcing webpage (Members Only), click here.

This portal page is being updated regularly and is organized as follows:

  • Situation Update (updated regularly)
  • CISA/FEMA Broad Stakeholder Call Information
  • Resources
    • COVID-19 Cases (numbers of cases in WaterISAC member countries and worldwide)
    • Return to Work Planning
    • Water and Wastewater Utility COVID-19 Impacts and Responses
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • General Workplace  and Community Safety and Security
    • Cybersecurity
    • Business Continuity 
  • Government Declarations   

Situation Update

May 28, 2020

Reopening Resources from U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made available a “Reopening Business Digital Resources Center,” a site that presents the latest state guidelines, guidance and advice for businesses, and other tools and resources to help employers and employees return to work safely and successfully. The U.S. Chamber notes it will regularly update the page as new information becomes available. One of the resources the site links to is the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s (AIHA’s) Reopening Guidance for General Office Settings, which discusses what employers should do to prepare their facilities for reopening, such as in general office spaces, conference rooms, lobbies and common areas, restrooms, and eating areas. The Chamber site also offers a standardized employee screening questionnaire and a customizable workplace flyer for communicating to employees and customers the steps an organization is taking to keep them safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. Chamber also notes it is convening a weekly Path Forward Webinar Series (Thursdays at 3:00 pm ET). Moderated by U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark, this series explores the complex issues that must be considered as part of a responsible reopening strategy. Each week a panel of experts discusses topics like barriers to reopening, big questions about immunity and liability, and ways employers can use innovative approaches to ensure safety into the workplace. Access the resource center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

FEMA Announces Distribution of Infrared Thermometers to Support Workplace Reopening
FEMA has announced that in late May the federal government will begin distributing non-contact infrared thermometers (NCITs) to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to support the reopening of the nation’s workplaces. The NCITs are being provided to these governments for further distribution to local authorities and businesses based on current conditions and their individual reopening plans and priorities. Although FEMA notes that these governments will be responsible for distributing NCITs and will have significant flexibility in making their decisions, it has identified considerations for establishing priority. These considerations include workplaces with essential critical workers (based on the DHS CISA’s Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce), that are currently operating, and that support the reopening of other businesses. FEMA also emphasizes the thermometers should be used in accordance with CDC guidance for businesses and employers and OSHA guidance for preparing workplaces for identifying potentially ill individuals including employees, customers, vendors or other visitors. As FEMA reminds its partners, temperature checks are one important part of an assessment symptom screening process that includes checking for fever. Fever is one of many symptoms to reduce social exposure to individuals who may be exhibiting elevated temperature. Read the fact sheet at FEMA.

As of today, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. now stands at 1,706,500 (+43,732 since the Tuesday Security and Resilience Update). For WaterISAC's other member countries, Canada now has 89,593 (+2,471) and Australia has 7,157 (+24).

CISA/FEMA Broad Stakeholder Call Information

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are continuing to convene Broad Stakeholder Calls, which are open to critical infrastructure operators and other stakeholders. They are being held every Tuesday 3:00 to 4:15 pm ET until futher notice. Beginning the week of May 18, the calls will only be held on Tuesdays - they will no longer be held on Thursdays.

The call-in information is as follows:

Dial: 1-800-593-7177
Enter passcode: 7963614

Resources - COVID-19 Cases

For the latest information on the numbers and locations of cases in WaterISAC member countries (the U.S., Canada, and Australia) and around the world, visit the following websites:

Resources - Return to Work Planning

  • Planning Considerations for Organizations in Reconstituting Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic (FEMA) - This resource provides lists of reconstitution planning considerations in general and for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as for the private sector. It also provides a list of additional resources and lists of questions to consider when reconstituting operations, categorized by people, messaging/communications, facilities, and resources / logistics. This document is posted below as resource #27.
  • Exercise Starter Kit (FEMA) - This resource is intended for organizations to convene their own workshops on reconstitution, or the process of returning to full operations, during COVID-19. The kit includes a sample facilitator guide and conduct slides that present suggested discussion questions focused on four themes: people, facilities, messaging and communications, and resources and logistics. The suggested questions build upon the White House’s guidance for employers in the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again and FEMA’s Planning Considerations for Organizations in Reconstituting Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic (in addition to the links included for each document, they are also posted below as resources #21 and 27). All of the kit’s materials, including the questions, are designed and intended to be adapted and customized to an organization’s own needs. The intended outcome from the workshop is a roadmap for a reconstitution plan tailored to an organization.
    • FEMA has also launched a series of four new COVID-19 training videos through its Center for Domestic Preparedness. While the content in most of these is tailored to healthcare professionals, some of it can be useful for a general audience and could be used by an organization providing employees with a baseline of information about COVID-19. The first video, for example, offers an overview of the virus and discusses symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
  • CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening American Up Again (CDC) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a document containing information intended to be helpful for businesses as they consider and make reopening decisions and actions. The document  contains an “Interim Guidance for Employers with Workers at High Risk” section that encourages businesses to keep in mind as they gradually scale up their operations that some workers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The CDC lays out a series of three steps that are intended to inform decisions and actions as organizations scale up their operations. It also identifies the actions it recommends organizations take as part of these steps, such as intensifying cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation; having a plan for when employees become sick; and being prepared to scale down operations based on state and local health department notices or if there are COVID-19 cases in the workplace. This resource is available at the CDC here. It has also been posted below as resource #31.
  • Workplaces during the COVID-19 Pandemic (CDC) - This simple decision tree from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is intended to assist employers with walking through the process of making return to work decisions and bringing employees back into the workplace.
  • Reopening Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes (CDC) - This webpage provides a general framework for cleaning and disinfection practices. The associated Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting contains a decision flowchart.
  • Information on Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings with Low or No Use (EPA) - EPA has posted two documents regarding recommended actions to be taken by building owners and managers to address building water quality prior to reopening. The first document contains lists of actions for building owners and managers to take; it also includes steps for public water systems. The second document complements the first by providing a simple checklist of actions.
  • Guidance for Building Water Systems (CDC) - The CDC published this guidance to help minimize the risk of Legionnaire’s disease and other diseases associated with water given that water has likely become stagnant in many buildings, such as those that have been vacated by businesses while social distancing measures are in place. The guidance recommends an eight step process before reopening a building, which includes flushing the water system and maintaining the water system (this step asks readers to consider contacting their local water utility to learn about any recent disruptions in the water supply).
  • Safely Re-Opening Buildings: General Guidance for Water Utilities – Developed by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) to be used by water and wastewater utilities, this resource is intended to provide advice on steps to take to prepare for increased flushing, recommendations for distributing information to building owners, and guidance on communicating with the public and media.
  • Safely Reopening Buildings: A Fact Sheet for Building Owners/Operators – Also developed by CWWA but to be used by building owners and operators, this resource provides general instruction for flushing and cleaning water systems and links to more detailed resources and guidance. CWWA notes the fact sheet can go out as is, but it encourages utilities to customize it before sending to building owners and operators, adding such details as utility name and logo, chlorine residual levels, and local contacts, among others.
  • Coronavirus Building Flushing Guidance (The Environmental Science Policy & Research Institute [ESPRI]) - This guidance helps address the issue of building water quality degradation. As noted in the document, when buildings are shut down or used less frequently, as is happening during the current COVID-19 situation, water quality in the buildings can become a serious issue. In addition to discussing how water quality degrades in buildings in these circumstances, the guidance provides a general roadmap for how to flush contaminants from buildings and get plumbing system water quality back to pre-stagnation conditions. This document is posted below as resource #17.
  • Assessing and Mitigating the Novel Coronavirus (ESCC) - The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council’s (ESCC's) guide , now in version seven, includes a new section, “Responsible Re-entry and Return to the Workplace.” In this new section, the ESCC highlights four strategic priorities for returning to the workplace. Given similarities to the electricity sector, these priorities may also be relevant for water and wastewater utilities. This document is posted below as resource #10.
  • There are numerous online resources that provide country-wide overviews as well as detailed information by state on the state of reopening, restrictions, and testing. Some include:
    • The National Governors Association is maintaing an online database of actions that have been taken by states, including stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and non-essential business closures, among others.
    • The New York Times is operating a tracker showing the status of reopening and COVID-19 restrictions by state.
    • MultiState Associates is maintaining a tracker that has an up-to-date list of executive orders and various travel restrictions.
    • A Kaiser Family Foundation website provides state-level information on social distancing measures, health policy actions, cases/deaths, and more.
    • A Politico website provides an overview of how states are responding to COVID-19 in seven maps, using data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Resources - Water and Wastewater Utility COVID-19 Impacts and Responses

  • Food Grade CO2 Suppliers and Producers (EPA) - For water utilities that utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) in their treatment processes, the EPA has provided a document identifying food grade CO2 suppliers and producers in the event that water utilities need to find alternative companies. The CO2 used by water utilities is often produced as a byproduct of the ethanol manufacturing process, and with the demand for ethanol having decreased (largely due to the decrease in vehicle driving) some manufacturers have suspended or reduced their operations. At this time, it seems that the water utilities that learned of potential disruptions to their CO2 shipments from their primary vendors were able to switch to alternate companies. Access the resource document at EPA or below (posted as resource #28).
  • Critical Infrastructure Operations Centers and Control Rooms Guide for Pandemic Response (DHS CISA) - This guide provides considerations and mitigation measures for operations centers and control rooms that are continuing to operate during a pandemic. The considerations and measures in the document are organized into sections for coordination with federal, state, and other authorities; communication and information sharing; protecting personnel; protecting equipment; and workforce planning. This document is posted below as resource #24.
  • The Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Drinking Water Utilities (Raftelis for AMWA and AWWA) - The financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on U.S. water utilities is estimated to exceed $15 billion, according to a new report prepared by Raftelis for the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) (read the press release at AMWAand the American Water Works Association (AWWA). It estimates drinking water utilities in the U.S. will see revenues from customer payments drop by nearly $14 billion. The impacts result from the elimination of water shutoffs for non-payment, increased late payments due to high unemployment, reductions in non-residential water demands, and fewer new customers. These utilities may also experience additional future revenue losses estimated at approximately $1.6 billion in aggregate as a result of deferrals of planned water rate increases. The drop in revenue will require utilities to scale back projects by as much as $5 billion (annualized) to help manage cash flows due to the crisis. These reductions will have a cascade effect on communities, reducing economic activity by an estimated $32.7 billion and costing 75,000 to 90,000 private sector jobs. The financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on drinking water and wastewater utilities combined is estimated to exceed $27 billion (the report has also been posted below as resource #20).
  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (EPA) - One of the resources linked to on this webpage is "Coronavirus and Drinking Water and Wastewater," guidance that emphasizes the continued safety of tap water amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance echoes previous statements by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which are referenced in the next two materials below. It specifically states that consumers can continue to use tap water as usual, to include for drinking and hand washing, and that they do not need to boil their water to protect against COVID-19. Additionally, referencing a statement previously made by the WHO, it notes that “there is no evidence to date that COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems, with or without wastewater treatment.” And it adds that “standard treatment and disinfectant processes at wastewater treatment plants are expected to be effective” against the COVID-19 virus.
  • Water Transmission and COVID-19 (CDC) - This webpage discusses the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in drinking water and wastewater as well as whether wastewater workers should take extra precautions.
  • Incident Action Checklist - Pandemic Incidents (EPA) - This is the latest in EPA’s suite of incident action checklists and follows the same format as the others. It contains a brief discussion of the impacts water and wastewater utilities might experience in these incidents; provides links to resources with more information; has checklists of actions to take when preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a pandemic; and includes a contact list that can be filled out by a utility. In addition to the link above, this document is also posted below as resource #1.
    • Recording of Incident Action Checklist Webinar (EPA) – EPA has posted the recording from its April 7 webinar entitled “COVID-19 Planning and Response: Overview of EPA’s Pandemic Incident Action Checklist for Water Utilities."  The webinar provided an overview of EPA’s Pandemic Incident Action Checklist. It also included a case study from Todd Brown, the Town of Marbleton, Wyoming Public Works Director, who discussed the actions his small system has taken in response to COVID-19, as well as a Q&A session.
  • COVID-19 Critical Infrastructure Sector Response Planning – On this webpage, the CDC encourages critical infrastructure workplaces to develop a COVID-19 response plan; it includes advice and links to resources to assist in this process. The CDC also discusses how to adapt a response plan based on the CDC’s guidance.
  • Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19 (WHO) - This technical brief from the World Health Organization discusses the persistence of the COVID-19 virus in drinking water and sewage and on surface. It states that “while persistence in drinking-water is possible, there is no current evidence that surrogate human coronaviruses are present in surface or ground water sources or transmitted through contaminated drinking-water.” For wastewater, it says, “While there is no evidence, to date, on the COVID-19 virus survival in water or sewage, the virus is likely to become inactivated significantly faster than non-enveloped human enteric viruses with known waterborne transmission.” In the “Keeping water supplies safe” section, the brief states that “based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low.” The section also describes measures for keeping water supplies safe and for treating water, adding that “conventional, centralized water treatment methods which utilize filtration and disinfection should inactivate COVID-19 virus.” The “Safely managing wastewater and or/fecal waste” section states “there is no evidence to date that COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage system, with or without wastewater treatment.” Referencing findings from the 2003 outbreak of SARs, another type of coronavirus, the brief suggests there is low likelihood of wastewater treatment workers contracting COVID-19 in work environments. The brief also contains sections about cleaning practices for keeping surfaces disinfected. The technical brief is posted below as resource #2.
  • Introductions to Coronaviruses (Stantec) - This white paper from Stantec states that utilities can continue using standard treatment measures for both water and wastewater for coronaviruses. The white paper is posted below as resource #3.
  • COVID-19 (OSHA) -  On this webpage, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration indicates exposure risk may be elevated for wastewater management workers, among other types of workers. OSHA notes its existing standards apply to protecting workers from COVID-19, which are described on the webpage.
  • Current Priority: Coronavirus (WEF)  - The Water Environment Federation’s webpage contains The Water Professional’s Guide to COVID-19, the recording from its February 25 “Updates on Novel Coronavirus for Water Professionals” webcast, and other information and resources regarding COVID-19.
  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Water and Wastewater Sector Impacts and Needs - WaterISAC conducted a survey of its members asking about impacts and needs regarding COVID-19. Below WaterISAC has captured the two options that received the most responses from the 25 organizations that participated in the survey:
    • Primary Business Concerns – Absenteeism (84 percent) and Supply Chain Impacts (76 percent)
    • Specific Actions Already Being Taken – Reviewing Advisories (84 percent) and Reviewing or Completing Business Continuity Plans (64 percent)
    • Additional Actions that Might Need to Be Taken – Quarantining Essential Employees at Utility (48 percent) and Stockpiling Materials Needed for Operations (48 percent)
    • Priority Information Needs – Potential Supply Chain Impacts (88 percent) and Effectiveness of PPE and Disinfection Measures (84 percent)
  • Pandemic Impacts to Lifeline Critical Infrastructure (DHS) - This Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Note examines the impact of a pandemic on the lifeline critical infrastructure, which includes the water and wastewater sector. The Note observes that the greatest risk to the water and wastewater sector comes from the loss of available operators and support staff due to illness and absenteeism, and it cities a previous report from AMWA and WaterISAC that found that the sector deemed roughly 41 percent of workers critical to maintaining systems.
  • Key Considerations for Water and Wastewater Utilities Responding to the Coronavirus (Moonshot Missions) - This guide contains a compendium of best practices being implemented by water and wastewater utilities. Given that utilities are continuing to employ and experiment with new approaches, Moonshot Missions intends to routinely update this document. Moonshot Missions' founder is former DC Water CEO George Hawkins. This document is posted below as as resource #15.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • COVID-19 Pandemic: Personal Protective Equipment Preservation Best Practices (FEMA) - This document summarizes government guidance and best practices currently being implemented across the U.S. for COVID-19 response. This document lists actions and considerations that are grouped into the categories of reduce, reduce, and repurpose. This document is posted below as resource # 17.
  • Interim Guidance for Conserving and Extending Filtering Facepiece Supply in Non-Healthcare Sectors (NIOSH) - The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently issued this document offering strategies to conserve, extend, and respond to shortages of NIOSH-approved filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs).
  • Addressing PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Setting (FEMA) - FEMA has published two documents providing guidance on how organizations in non-healthcare sectors should consider and manage their PPE needs during the COVID-19 pandemic response while ensuring the protection of workers. They focus on the prioritization of certain kinds of PPE (e.g., N95 face masks) for the healthcare sector, the expected continuation of PPE shortages, the importance of preserving PPE, and the careful consideration of what kinds of PPE workers should use, whether required by law or regulation for routine duties or for mitigating exposure to COVID-19.
    • The first document, a one page advisory (posted below as resource #22), summarizes the guidance and provides information for contacting FEMA about PPE allocations and orders.
    • The second document, a fact sheet (posted below as resource #23), states that if PPE is required by law or regulation for routine duties, organizations should take steps to preserve the PPE for reuse as well as to consider alternative types of PPE that are acceptable and that can support operations. In this section FEMA provides links to numerous resources, such as a CDC “Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment” webpage and a PPE burn rate calculator. If PPE is not required by law or regulation, FEMA advises organizations not attempt to acquire medical of industrial use PPE given that it is likely unavailable and needs to be prioritized for the healthcare sector. Instead, FEMA recommends organizations and employees follow CDC guidance on simple cloth face coverings and implement exposure reduction measures, such as plexiglass barriers and improved ventilation systems. The fact sheet also provides information on acquiring PPE during shortages, if it’s deemed to be required, and lists a series of key questions to ask before making requests.
  • Joint Advisory: Potential Availability of Cloth Masks for the Water Sector (WaterISAC) - On April 22, WaterISAC sent a joint advisory to members explaining a new program for distributing donated PPE to water and wastewater utilities nationwide (the text of the advisory is posted below as resource #25).
  • (TLP:GREEN) Indicators of Fraudulent 3M Personal Protective Equipment (FBI) - The FBI has published a report providing indicators of fraudulent 3M PPE. The report indicates the signs of fraudulent PPE, which it reinforces with images. Given the TLP:GREEN marking, this report has been posted to WaterISAC’s members only COVID-19 crowdsourcing webpage.

Resources - General Workplace and Community Safety and Security

  • Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (CDC) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published interim guidance for businesses on how to prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including the COVID-19. Some of the recommended measures in the guidance include actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, separating sick employees, and performing routine environmental cleaning, among others. The guidance also includes planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Dashboard ("What's New") - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to update its COVID-19 resources, posting new and revised information and guidelines for specific communities and sectors as well as for the general public. Some of the products that may be of interest to water and wastewater utilities include:
  • Coronavirus Emergency Management Best Practices (FEMA) – FEMA has created a new webpage where it has posted best practices and lessons learned across all levels of government, the private sector, professional associations, and other organizations. The content is organized around five themes: Helping People, which includes best practices on topics such as crisis counseling resources and anticipating and attending to civil rights; Government Operations, best practices such as public information and continuity of operations considerations; Private Sector and Infrastructure, which includes best practices for commercial trucking and food stores; Recovery Planning and Implementation, to include the newly released FEMA Disaster Financial Management Guide (discussed in the General Security and Resilience section below) and economic recovery considerations; and Medical Supplies and Equipment, including best practices for the preservation of personal protective equipment while ensuring workers are protected.
  • Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (OSHA) – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a guide to assist workplaces with implementing measures for infection prevention and industrial hygiene during COVID-19 outbreaks. It contains sections discussing steps all employers can take to reduce workers’ risk of exposure as well as for measures to implement to protect workers in low, medium, and high and very high exposure risk settings. The document is posted below as resource #4.
  • List of Disinfectants to Use against COVID-19 (EPA) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Products appearing on EPA’s list registered disinfectant products have qualified for use against COVID-19 through the agency’s Emerging Viral Pathogen program. This program allows product manufacturers to provide EPA with data, even in advance of an outbreak, that shows their products are effective against harder-to-kill viruses than SARS-CoV-2. It also allows additional communications intended to inform the public about the utility of these products against the emerging pathogen in the most expeditious manner.
  • Risk Management for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (DHS CISA) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has published an Insights document to help organization executives think through physical, supply chain, and cybersecurity issues that may arise from the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). CISA states it is sharing this readiness information to help organizations plan for potential organizational and workforce impacts from COVID-19. That includes taking steps like identifying mission essential functions, updating incident response plans, factoring in workforce changes in a distributed environment, the possibility of malicious cyber actors taking advantage of public concern by conducting phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns. The document is posted below as resource #5.
  • FEMA Administrator April 15, 2020, letter to Emergency Managers (FEMA) - On April 15, FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor released a letter intended for the nation’s emergency managers that discusses the agency’s lessons learned at this stage in the response and its priorities going forward. Some of the points he addresses are the preservation and prioritization of scarce resources, the use of data-driven decision making, mitigation efforts to flatten the curve, strengthening the supply chain, and the importance of busting myths. In his discussion of the first point, Administrator Gaynor encourages use of the guidance that has been disseminated to maximize supply inventories of PPE. These include the CDC’s Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment and FEMA’s COVID-19 Pandemic: Personal Protective Equipment Preservation Best Practices (posted to this webpage as resource #19).
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season (FEMA) - This guide provides information to assist with preparations for response and recovery operations and encouraging personal preparedness. The document describes anticipated challenges to disaster operations posed by COVID-19; outlines how FEMA plans to adapt its response and recovery operations given these challenges; and provides guidance, checklists, and resources to help emergency managers adapt the response and recovery plans. FEMA notes that while the document focuses on hurricane season preparedness, most planning considerations can also be applied to any disaster operation in the COVID-19 environment, including floods and wildfires. This resource is available at FEMA here. This document is posted below as resource #32.

Resources - Cybersecurity

  • ICT Supply Chain Risk Management (DHS CISA) -  To assist its partners with managing risks to their Information and Communications (ICT) supply chains, CISA has published several resources, to include a new ICT Supply Chain Essentials guide. Other resources include an ICT Supply Chain Risk Management Fact Sheet, an ICT SCRM Task Force Threat Scenarios Report, and an ICT Response Paper on Executive Order 13873. ICT systems include the hardware, software, and services critical to communicating, which support a broad range of critical infrastructure activities, including in the water and wastewater sector. Access the resources at CISA’s ICT Supply Chain Risk Management webpage.
  • Defending against COVID-19 Cyber Scams (DHS CISA) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has published an advisory warning individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to COVID-19. In the advisory, CISA notes that cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. It encourages exercising caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Disinformation Activity (DHS CISA) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has published this resource discussing some of the false information and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19. As the document notes, some of this disinformation emanates or is being promoted by foreign governments. To counteract disinformation, it provides factual information and provides simple steps anyone can take to fact check information and minimize the risk of spreading false or misleading content. This resource has been posted to below as resource #30.
  • COVID-19-Related Phone Scams and Phishing Attacks (CDC) – CDC has published a webpage raising awareness of phone calls that have been made and emails that have been sent purporting to come its personnel. Although they appear to originate from the CDC, they are in fact scams and phishing attempts. The CDC provides some tips for how to spot these and prevent yourself or your organization from falling victim.
  • COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips (Federal Communications Commission [FCC]) - This webpage provides numerous examples of the scam and hoax emails, voicemails, and text messages. The webpage offers a list of tips to protect against scams.
  • Enterprise VPN Security (DHS CISA) - DHS’s CISA has published a webpage encouraging organizations implement an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) as a means of adopting a heightened state of cybersecurity while employees participate in telework. It offers some considerations for implementing VPNs and a list of measures for mitigating cybersecurity concerns in alternate workplace situations.
  • Public Service Announcement (PSA) (FBI IC3) - The FBI warns of an increase in fraud schemes related to COVID-19. The PSA discusses fake CDC emails, phishing emails, and counterfeit treatments and equipment. It offers links to legitimate websites that provide true and accurate information, such as those posted by the CDC and the EPA, and lists measures for good cyber hygiene and security.
  • Web Conferencing Security (Australian Cyber Security Centre [ACSC]) - The ACSC published this document to provide guidance on how to select a web conferencing solution and how to use it securely. As noted in the document, web conferencing is increasingly in use as employees strive to remain connected with supervisors and with each other while working from home. However, these solutions oftentimes have vulnerabilities that, if left unaddressed, can introduce security threats. This document is posted below as resource #18.
  • COVID-19 Phishing Resource Center (Cofense) - Visitors to this website can access a YARA rule consisting of major, actionable indicators for COVID-19 phishing emails and related malware; real examples of COVID-19 phishing emails that evaded security systems; and recommendations from Cofense’s anti-phishing professionals. Cofense is also hosting a webinar tomorrow, on March 26, at 11:00 am ET on the evolving coronavirus threats as well as useful tools and recommendations to combat the escalating volume of email attacks.
  • Coronavirus Rumor Control (FEMA) - This webpage is intended to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The webpage addresses rumors regarding a national lockdown and quarantine, FEMA's deployment of military assets, the stockpiling of groceriers and supplies, checks being sent to citizens by the government, and immunity to the COVID-19 virus by those below 60 years of age and who are not suffering from health problems. 
    • On about April 14, FEMA updated this webpage to address allegations that it is seizing or re-routing PPE and other medical supplies, both those that are being shipped to the U.S. from overseas and that are being distributed internally within the country. FEMA emphasizes that reports it is seizing or re-routing supplies are false.
  • Criminals Exploiting COVID-19 Outbreak for Financial Gain through Procurement and
    Consumer Fraud
    (FBI’s Office of the Private Sector) -  This advisory discusses how criminals have seized upon the ever-growing demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to manufacture and sell counterfeit materials, such as N95 masks. The advisory provides a list of measures consumers and procurement personnel can take to help prevent financial loss and the purchase of potentially unsafe equipment. This advisory is posted below as resource #6.
  • Threat Update: COVID-19 Malicious Cyber Activity and a Security Managers Guide: Working at Home (ACSC) - The Threat Update from the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) takes a look at some of the malicious cyber attacks and scams that seek to exploit the ongoing situation with COVID-19. As shown in one of the case studies, members of the public have received text messages that appeared to come from the government and that purported to offer authoritative information on COVID-19 testing. It concludes with a series of mitigation strategies for this and other COVID-19 malicious cyber activity, some of which focus on employees in remote work situations. This advisory is posted below as resource #7.
  • Security Managers Guide - Working from Home (ASIO) - This guide from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) describes security measures for remote work. It discusses the policies and procedures organizations should put in place when having employees work from home; provides lists of tips for conducting a risk assessment and maintaining physical security, among others; and includes a series of references for further reading. This advisory is posted below as resource #8.

Resources - Business Continuity

  • Business Continuity Planning in the Event of an Influenza Pandemic: A Reference Guide (WaterISAC and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies)
  • Business Continuity Planning for Water Utilities (Water Research Foundation, U.S. EPA, and the American Water Works Association)
  • Business Continuity Planning Suite (FEMA)
  • Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Guide for Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (DHS) - This guide is intended to serve as a reference for utility operators as they tailor emergency response plans to address the unique challenges of a pandemic event. It contains a list of primary actions to take, which are accompanied by series of supporting actions and questions to consider. The guide is posted below as resource #9.
  • Assessing and Mitigating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Guide, version 7 – The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), a liaison body between the federal government and the electric power industry), has published the latest version of a document that addresses steps to take at different stages of COVID-19 mitigation and response and offers lists of business continuity planning considerations. This guide has evolved significantly from its first version, which WaterISAC reported on in the March 19 Security and Resilience Update and posted to its general COVID-19 webpage (growing from 6 to 77 pages). Although this guide is specifically intended for electric utilities, many of the steps and considerations it discusses can be applied by water and wastewater utilities. For example, the “Sequestration Guidelines and Considerations” section is relevant to any utility implementing or considering a shelter-in-place programs. Some of the other areas of potential relevance and interest include the example Q&A sections (such as "Example Q&A for Using a Respirator for COVID-19 Mitigation" on page 13), "Scenario Development,” and "Social Distancing for Control Center Personnel,” to name just a few. The guide is posted below as resource #10.
  • Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response (DHS CISA) - This memorandum is intended to promote a widespread understanding among state and local officials of the critical role workers in these industries play in sustaining and protecting their communities, including during emergencies. Water and wastewater utilities are specifically identified as one of the critical infrastructure sectors, and the memorandum goes on to identify types of workers for the sector (e.g., operational staff at community water systems and wastewater treatment facilities, workers repairing water and wastewater conveyances and performing required sampling or monitoring, staff and technical support for SCADA and digital systems, and chemical disinfectant suppliers for wastewater and personnel protection). As state and local communities consider COVID-19-related restrictions, this memorandum may assist in critical infrastructure workers being granted appropriate status to go about their duties, such as reporting for work or transiting between work locations. The memorandum is meant only as guidance, not as a federal directive, and it acknowledges that ultimately state and local officials are in charge of implementing and executing response activities in their jurisdictions. Additionally, the memorandum puts responsibility on critical infrastructure partners to use their judgement when balancing safety and the continued delivery of their services. In addition to the accessing the memorandum through the link provided above, it's also posted below as resource #14.
    • On May 19, DHS released version 3.1 of the guidance (posted below as resource #11). There are two significant changes for the “Water and Wastewater” section, which identifies the types of workers needed to operate and maintain the sector’s infrastructure.
      • One, “Laboratory staff performing water sampling and analysis” has been added.
      • And two, the bullet that previously read “Chemical equipment and personal protection suppliers to water and wastewater system” has been modified. It now states: “Suppliers and manufacturers of chemicals, equipment, personal protection equipment, and goods and services for water and wastewater systems.”
    • On April 17, DHS released version 3.0 of the guidance (posted below as resource #12). This iteration includes language focused on sustained access and freedom of movement; a reference to the CDC guidance on safety for critical infrastructure workers; and a statement saying sick employees should avoid the workplace and the workforce. In worker categories, all references to “employees” or “contractors” have been changed to “workers.” For the Water and Wastewater section, one small change has been made: "Chemical and equipment suppliers to water and wastewater systems and personnel protection" has been changed to "Chemical equipment and personal protection suppliers to water and wastewater system."

    • On March 28, DHS released version 2.0 of the guidance (posted below as resource #13). This iteration maintains many of the same descriptions of water and wastewater employees and support personnel as the first version, with some modificiations. Specifically:
      • "Workers repairing water and wastewater conveyances and performing required sampling and monitoring" now adds "including field staff."
      • "Chemical disinfectant suppliers for wastewater and personnel protection" has been revised to also include equipment suppliers, as well as suppliers for water systems. It now reads: "Chemical and equipment suppliers to water and wastewater systems and personnel protection."
  • The EPA published a template for water utilities to use to provide documentation to state and local authorities that their workers that are considered essential (posted below as resource #16 and also available at EPA here). This template complements the letter that EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent to governors on March 27 requesting that water and wastewater workers, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers who provide vital services and materials to the water sector, are considered essential workers and businesses by state authorities when enacting restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
  • Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Public Safety Canada) - Public Safety Canada has published its own guidance on critical infrastructure services and functions that are deemed essential to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of the population. The water sector is specifically identified in this document, as are types of workers in the sector (e.g., employees and others needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure). This guidance is very similar to the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers during COVID-19 Response recently published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Interim guidance for COVID-19 safety practices for critical infrastructure workers (CDC) - To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. According to the CDC, in cases where workers have had an exposure but remain asymptomatic, they and their employers should engage in pre-screening, regular monitoring, wearing a face mask, social distancing, and workplace disinfecting and cleaning. As noted in its discussion of face masks, the CDC says employers can approve employees’ supplied face coverings in the event of shortages (its “Cloth Face Covers” webpage provides recommendations on how to make your own). The CDC states that an employee who becomes sick during their work shift should be sent home immediately and that the surfaces in their workplaces be cleaned and disinfected and a list of persons who had contact with the ill employee compiled. The CDC advises that this guidance should be implemented in conjunction with its previously published Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019.
  • Commercial Routing Assistance (CRA) tool (DHS CISA) - ​​​The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Idaho National Laboratory provided this tool, which may be useful to utilities whose employees include truckers or commercial drivers. It is intended to help these workers to understand the restrictions they might encounter as they travel across the country. Commercial Routing Assistance (CRA) tool merges coordinated and vetted data streams, plots multiple automated or custom routing options, and visualizes the wide variety of state regulations and actions that a driver would encounter along a route. With this free tool, commercial operators can plan vehicle movements across multiple states quickly, particularly during emergencies (a fact sheet is posted below as resource #29).

Government Declarations

  • On April 16, the White House released its Opening Up American Again Guidelines (posted below as resource #21). The new guidelines are aimed at clearing the way for an easing of restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while keeping them in place in harder-hit places. The ultimate decisions will remain with governors.
    • On April 28, the White House released the Blueprint for Testing Plans and Rapid Response Programs (posted below as resource #26), which includes recommendations for states to further develop and implement their testing plans. Also referred to as “The Blueprint,” its recommendations are intended to support state development and implementation of testing plans and rapid response plans that were called for in the Opening Up America Again Guidelines. As described on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Testing for COVID-19” webpage, there are two kinds of tests available for COVID-19: diagnostic tests and antibody blood tests. Diagnostic tests check samples from your respiratory system (such as swabs of the inside of the nose) to tell you if you currently have an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibody blood tests check your blood for antibodies that would show if you have had a previous infection.
  • On March 26, EPA announced a new policy to help address uncertainties regarding EPA enforcement amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. Public water systems are specifically singled out as "hav[ing] a heightened responsibility to protect public health because unsafe drinking water can lead to serious illnesses and access to clean water for drinking and handwashing is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic." Some water and wastewater associations believe that the current policy and how it relates to public water systems is unclear and have reached out to EPA's Office of Water to request further guidance and additional clarification. WaterISAC will keep its members updated as it learns more.
  • On March 16, President Trump released COVID-19 guidelines, which emphasized the need for the public to listen to and follow the directions of state and local authorities in his administration released and highlighted best practices for reducing the spread of infections. The guidelines call for people to avoid gathering in groups of more than ten people and to work from home whenever possible. However, the guidelines notes that for those who work in critical infrastructure industry, which although not specifically stated in the document does include the water and wastewater sector, “you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”
  • On March 26, EPA announced a new policy to help address uncertainties regarding EPA enforcement amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. Public water systems are specifically singled out as "hav[ing] a heightened responsibility to protect public health because unsafe drinking water can lead to serious illnesses and access to clean water for drinking and handwashing is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic." Some water and wastewater associations believe that the current policy and how it relates to public water systems is unclear and have reached out to EPA's Office of Water to request further guidance and additional clarification. WaterISAC will keep its members updated as it learns more.
  • On March 13, President Trump declared the situation with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to be a national emergency. This declaration relies on the National Emergency Act — the same law that former president Barack Obama used to bolster his administration’s response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009. The law grants the president and executive branch sweeping powers to act quickly and decisively to respond to an emergency. Trump said his declaration would free $50 billion in federal resources to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes. The declaration also instructs state governments to set up emergency operations centers, directs hospitals nationwide to activate emergency preparedness contingency plans, and allows Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to waive regulations that could hinder health professionals’ response capabilities.

    • Also on March 13, Trump also issued an emergency declaration using the Stafford Act, which allows for the mobilization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with the response. As a result of the declaration, FEMA is directed to assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public.

    • For more about the declarations, read this article at Stat.

  • On March 11, President Donald Trump, in a televised address to the nation, announced a 30-day ban on travel from European countries to the U.S., beginning on March 13 at midnight, in a bid "to keep new cases" of COVID-19 "from entering our shores." Trump also announced economic measures that he said would help the country overcome "temporary economic disruptions" caused by the disease. One of the measures includes financial relief to people who need to stay home because they are sick, quarantined, or caring for others.
  • On January 31, President Donald Trump announced via a Presidential proclamation the suspension of entry into the country of foreign nationals who had visited China in the past 14 days. Measures to detect this virus among those who are allowed entry into the U.S. (U.S. citizens, residents, and family) who have been in China within 14 days also are being implemented.
  • On January 31, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency for the ongoing situation with the COVID-19. The declaration provides aid to the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
Attached Files: 
PDF icon #1 - Incident Action Checklist - Pandemic Incidents (EPA) PDF icon #2 - Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19 (WHO) PDF icon #3 - Introductions to Coronaviruses (Stantec) PDF icon #4 - Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (OSHA) PDF icon #5 - Risk Management for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (DHS CISA) PDF icon #6 - Criminals Exploiting COVID-19 (FBI) PDF icon #7 - Threat Update COVID-19 Malicious Cyber Activity (ACSC) PDF icon #8 - Security Managers Guide Working from Home (ASIO) PDF icon #9 - Pandemic Influenza Guide (DHS) PDF icon #10 - Assessing and Mitigating COVID-19_v7 (ESCC) PDF icon #11 - Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers_v3.1 (DHS) PDF icon #12 - Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers_v3 (DHS) PDF icon #13 - Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers_v2 (DHS) PDF icon #14 - Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers_v1 (DHS) PDF icon #15 - Key Considerations for Water and Wastewater Utilities Responding to the Coronavirus (Moonshot Missions) File #16 - Water Utility Template COVID-19 (EPA) PDF icon #17 - COVID Building Flushing Guidance (ESPRI) PDF icon #18 - Web Conferencing Security (ACSC) PDF icon #19 - COVID-19 PPE Preservation Best Practices (FEMA) PDF icon #20 - COVID-19 Financial Impacts Report (AMWA and AWWA) PDF icon #21 - Guidelines To Reopen (The White House) PDF icon #22 - PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Setting_Advisory (FEMA) PDF icon #23 - PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Setting_Fact Sheet (FEMA) PDF icon #24 - CI Ops Center Control Room Guide (DHS CISA) PDF icon #25 - Joint Advisory - Potential Availability of Cloth Masks for the Water Sector (WaterISAC) PDF icon #26 - Testing Blueprint (The White House) PDF icon #27 - Fact Sheet COVID-19 Reconstitution (FEMA) PDF icon #28 - Food Grade CO2 Suppliers and Producers (EPA) PDF icon #29 - Commercial Routing Assistance Tool (DHS) PDF icon #30 - Insights - COVID-19 Disinformation Activity (DHS CISA) PDF icon #31 - Activities and Initiatives for COVID-19 Response (CDC) PDF icon #32 - COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for 2020 Hurricane Season (FEMA) PDF icon 2019-nCoV - What the public should do.pdf PDF icon 2019-nCoV - Stop the spread of germs.pdf