As we’re all slowly coming to a pause due to COVID-19, there are still some industries that are so essential to our state and country, that pausing them would cause such far-reaching consequences to our economy that they would be felt long down the road when we move past the crisis at hand. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there are 16 infrastructure sectors that are so vital to the United States “that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.” Included in those 16, is the Transportation Systems Sector.
A growing list of states, following guidance from the federal government, are listing construction activity as “essential businesses”. The maintenance and construction of our roads, highways and bridges are essential to daily life and the transportation of goods and services during such a critical time as now.
While the economy nationwide and in Mississippi is seeing a downturn due to the crisis, paving and infrastructure projects require large amounts of planning, equipment and manpower, meaning they cannot be easily stopped and restarted. The jobs involved are already secured and funded meaning their economic impact is already underway, taking away those jobs, in turn, would have an exponentially negative impact on the economy.
Building and maintaining roads, highways and other critical infrastructure keep our state moving and ensures essential goods and services can be transported around the state during this time of higher need. The safety and well-being of Mississippians rely on this industry to provide reliable roads and bridges and complete projects that are already underway. This industry is also uniquely prepared to handle the social distancing required to be safe during the outbreak as public health measures are being put in place. Construction workers already have intense training in order to avoid injury on the job, adapted protocols to ensure a safe distance apart are easily being adopted industry-wide.
Classifying the construction industry as essential will not stop the spread of the virus, but it will help to ensure Mississippi stays strong and prepared to handle the virus in the months to come.