John Neuffer, SIA president, wrote an open letter to President Trump on March 19 calling for the federal government to designate semiconductors industry as “essential infrastructure” and/or “essential business.” This, Neuffer wrote, would promote continuity in the operation of one of the United States’ most vital industries. It would allow the semiconductor industry to continue performing the research, design and manufacturing needed for critical infrastructure and for national defense, Neuffer argued.

Towards the end of the letter Neuffer promised the US semiconductor industry would keep its workers safe. “The U.S. semiconductor industry will take all necessary steps to safeguard the health and safety of workers and assist in our country’s efforts to prevail in the face of this enormous challenge, but continuity of operations is imperative to our country’s economy, infrastructure, and national security,” Neuffer wrote.

In a blog published on the SIA’s website Neuffer acknowledged that business closures and instructions for people to stay home – while keeping essential services running – have been the main way of slowing the spread of the virus.

Neuffer reiterated the call for government officials in the United States and elsewhere to consider semiconductor industry as essential because it supports vital parts of the global economy, critical infrastructure, and national security. The semiconductor industry is also likely to be source of technologies used to combat this global health crisis.

To back up its  position the SIA has released a white paper entitled: Global Stakeholder Primer: The Semiconductor Industry & COVID-19.

The document outlines why the semiconductor sector is essential and highlights how cleanroom operating conditions minimize the risk of virus transmission.

Next: Refine the guidance

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an advisory to state and local governments that lists information technology and communications technology workers, particularly in the service and repair sector as being some of those that have responsibility to continue working.

It also lists critical manufacturing functions supplying materials and products for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. These could be interpreted as including some, but not all, semiconductor manufacturing plants.

Neuffer said the SIA is working with the DHS to further refine the guidance.

Neuffer also noted in his blog that semiconductor supply chains are international. He called for governments around the world to prioritize continued operations for their domestic semiconductor companies and their suppliers by defining the semiconductor industry and its supply chain as essential.

Related links and articles:

Global Stakeholder Primer: The Semiconductor Industry & COVID-19

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How Covid-19 will impact the 2020 global chip market

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