Code Council continues to support code officials during COVID-19 pandemic
The International Code Council continues to support code officials by ensuring they have access to the latest information and resources to help their communities prevail in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. These efforts include surveys on jurisdictions’ approaches to pandemic response, webinars, and guidance on code official health and safety, reopening and performing remote virtual inspections. These resources are all available through the Coronavirus Response Center.
Feedback received from Code Council membership continues to direct the association’s engagement with policymakers, which included:
- Letter to the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to recognize building and fire prevention departments and the construction industry as critical and essential to the nation’s pandemic response.
- Letters to Congress, FEMA and the National Security Council encouraging they direct additional federal resources to help code departments develop virtual capabilities beyond the initial round of CARES Act funding.
- Letter to the Vice President and the Coronavirus Task Force drawing attention to the needs of the nation’s first responders.
Most recently, on Jan. 12, 2021, Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urging the classification of code officials as frontline essential workers. This action is aimed at aligning CDC vaccine guidelines and priorities with standing guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designating code officials as members of the nation’s Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. The letter to CDC is the latest step in the Code Council’s broader effort to ensure code officials continue to be recognized for their critical role in building safety.
Phased rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccine
The first COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in early December 2020. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents be the first to receive the vaccine under Phase 1a of the rollout. An important note is that states and territories are ultimately responsible for developing their specific plans, policies and procedures for administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Dec. 20, 2020, the CDC updated its COVID-19 vaccine recommendations adding Phase 1b and Phase 1c.
Phase 1b — Currently includes persons 75 years and older and non-healthcare frontline essential workers (first responders, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, education workers and childcare workers).
Phase 1c — Currently includes persons aged 65–74, persons aged 16–64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in Phase 1b.
For a complete listing of state and territory COVID-19 vaccine information, please visit the National Governors Association State COVID-19 Vaccine Resources page.
Code official eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine
While DHS guidance clearly recognizes code officials as government officials conducting “safety activities,” including the “continuity of building functions,” “permits and inspections for construction supporting essential infrastructure,” and “necessary permitting . . .for critical infrastructure workers and their operations,” a recently published CDC crosswalk of essential workers to standardized industry codes and titles is not as clear with regard to clarifying vaccine priorities.
- There is a strong case to be made that certain code officials, particularly those working on-site or in the field, should receive the vaccine during Phase 1b as members of the CDC First Responder category under NAICS Code 92219 — Other Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities.
- CDC’s guidance recommends fire prevention officials receive the vaccine during Phase 1b and substantively covers this group as first responders under NAICS code 92216 — Fire Protection.
- Other code officials not working on-site or in the field are recommended to receive the vaccine during Phase 1c.
In his letter to the CDC, CEO Sims requests the agency amend its guidance to reflect and ensure that “code officials working on-site and in close proximity to the public are recognized as frontline essential workers eligible for vaccines under Phase 1b.”
Sims went on to say, “Simply stated, state, local, territorial, and tribal building and fire prevention departments are essential. These departments, and the building, fire, plumbing, electrical, fuel gas, and mechanical officials and inspectors that comprise them, conduct critical work. They enforce regulations that require disinfection of ventilation through mechanical systems in hospitals, adequate facilities to ensure handwashing, and safe and sanitary plumbing systems that mitigate the spread of contagions, including water, sanitary, drainage, and medical gas systems.”
COVID-19 priorities for the next administration and Congress
As we anticipate the arrival of a new presidential administration and begin work with the 117th Congress, the Code Council continues to advocate for additional support for code departments. The president-elect’s recently released $1.9T American Rescue Plan would provide $350 billion to assist state and local governments. As congressional deliberations begin on that proposal, we will continue to support the important work of code officials throughout the country.
For the latest COVID-19 information and resources, please visit the Code Council’s Coronavirus Response Center. For more information on government relations activities please visit the Code Council advocacy page or contact your Government Relations Department representative.