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According to the Department of Homeland Security, critical infrastructure describes the physical and cyber systems and assets that are so vital to the United States that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on our physical or economic security or public health or safety. The nation’s critical infrastructure provides the essential services that underpin American society.

So, is print critical to our infrastructure?

Early versions of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency’s (CISA) guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce implied that printing and packaging companies were essential as part of critical manufacturing supply chains, but lacked an explicit definition. Because of this, in several states print was excluded as an essential business and the industry was forced to petition governors to amend the original order. The entire process created havoc for the industry, its employees, and customers.

Printing Industries of America (PIA) petitioned CISA to recognize printing and packaging’s essential nature along with the myriad of printed materials necessary to support the nation’s other critical infrastructure sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, CISA released an updated guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce specifically including printers and packagers as essential workers.

Without a doubt, print is essential.

Especially in a time of national emergency. Printing, packaging, communications, and mailing are all critical to the supply chain and fall under the categories of Commercial Facilities and Critical Manufacturing supporting all of the other essential businesses. Community newspapers, printed/mailed government and public health information, directional signs and banners, and packaging of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, and food/consumer products are just a few essential functions of printed communications. Not to mention the critical financial, insurance, and healthcare related documents that are vital during a time of emergency. 

America relies on print. And in times of national emergency, the wide array of print applications is fundamental to seeing our nation through a national health crisis.