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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Latest news from the CDC on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
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  • Q: Will there be food shortages?

    A: There are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock. Food production and manufacturing are widely dispersed throughout the U.S. and there are currently no wide-spread disruptions reported in the supply chain.

    USDA and the Food and Drug Administration are closely monitoring the food supply chain for any shortages in collaboration with industry and our federal and state partners. We are in regular contact with food manufacturers and grocery stores.

    Q: What is USDA doing to ensure access to food?

    A: USDA is monitoring the situation closely in collaboration with our federal and state partners. FNS is ready to assist in the government-wide effort to ensure all Americans have access to food in times of need. In the event of an emergency or disaster situation, Food and Nutrition Service programs are just one part of a much larger government-wide coordinated response. All of our programs, including SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow us to respond to on-the-ground realities and take action as directed by Congress.

    Learn more about available FNS flexibilities to help ensure food access during the pandemic response, please visit: www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic.

    Q: Is USDA issuing guidance on how farmers markets should operate or if they are considered essential in places where shelter in place orders are in effect?

    A: USDA has not issued any guidance regarding farmers markets. Such decisions are made by localities based on the latest information from the CDC and local and state health agencies.

    Q: Will USDA food purchases continue?

    A: The AMS Commodity Procurement Program (CPP) will remain fully operational and plans to continue to work with Federal, state and local partners to purchase and distribute food to participants in domestic and international nutrition assistance programs. However, many schools and other institutions are closed across the country, and there may be other disruptions at warehouses, ports, and distribution centers. This may result in requests to delay or divert deliveries or provide other flexibilities. We ask that vendors extend as much flexibility as possible and be assured that CPP Contracting Officers will utilize all available contractual flexibilities and contingencies to continue to serve program recipients effectively during this time. To avoid delivery issues and challenges, all contracted vendors should:

    1. Make and confirm delivery appointments prior to shipping; and
    2. Communicate with CPP Contract Specialists or Contracting Officers for any deviation to contractual requirements.
  • Q: Is ARS still able to conduct research?

    A: The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) continues its mission critical work without interruption. We are continuing to support our stakeholders, including action and regulatory agencies. We will begin planning for new research on the impact of COVID-19 on food safety and animals.

    Q: What is ARS defining as “mission critical” work?

    A: In accordance with Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency memorandum (“Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response”), work where failure to provide the services by essential employees could jeopardize United States agriculture, food safety, and food production and supply and adversely affect the health, welfare and safety of the public.

    This includes animal welfare and research that cannot be postponed, and consists of collecting, harvesting, preserving, protecting and analyzing irreplaceable, time sensitive research that is cost prohibitive to replace (e.g. property – physical & intellectual, data, crops, animals, cultures, samples, and germplasm).

    Q: How are ARS’ international research efforts being affected by COVID?

    A: ARS’ overseas locations are following the same or similar guidance as U.S.-based labs. Regarding international travel, U.S. Embassies are only approving mission critical travel, with considerations for in-country threat levels. Travel of international visitors coming to work in ARS labs is postponed until further notice. ARS maintains its ability to communicate with international colleagues via email, telephone, and video conferencing and other virtual platforms.

    Q: Is ARS still offering Climate Hub and other environmental support for farmers?

    A: Yes. Each of the USDA regional Climate Hubs is co-located with either an ARS research facility or a U.S. Forest Service Facility. Climate Hub staff will observe all local guidance related to their host facility regarding telework and access to their offices. Climate Hub Directors and staff are telework-ready and will continue to conduct normal business, however most meetings are being rescheduled or moved to a virtual meeting space during this time.

    Information on specific events can be viewed online at www.climatehubs.usda.gov/calendar.

    Email addresses for Climate Hubs regional Directors can be found online at www.climatehubs.usda.gov/index.php/contact.

    Q: If NAL is closed, how will I get access to their resources?

    A: While the library’s on-site research and physical meeting spaces are closed, the majority of NAL’s products and services are available online. NAL staff continue to respond to telephone calls, emails, and other forms of requests, and are delivering content through a number of different web platforms accessible through the NAL website at www.nal.usda.gov.

    Q: When will the National Arboretum reopen?

    A: The decision to close the U.S. National Arboretum was made to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and contribute to public safety. Operational updates will be made in accordance with USDA and federal safety guidelines. Employees conducting mission critical work will continue to have access to the facility. Updates on the arboretum can be found online at www.usna.usda.gov.

  • Q: Is USDA still able to protect U.S. agriculture from animal and plant pests and diseases?

    A: Yes. Like all Government Agencies, our top priority is the safety and health of our employees and customers. At the same time, we understand our customers rely on our services and that they are important for business continuity. In the days and weeks ahead, our goal is to balance safety with service, and we will make adjustments as needed in order to adapt and continue to accomplish our mission of protecting the health and value of America’s agriculture and natural resources.

    Q: Can customers and the public still access USDA APHIS buildings for service?

    A: As a precaution, most USDA facilities are closed to the public, but we do still have employees working at ports of entry among other locations. In addition, some locations remain open for endorsement activities to help facilitate trade and international pet travel. This is on a case-by-case basis, and we encourage you to check with your local APHIS contacts for more information. They can assist you in identifying alternate ways to conduct business if in-person engagement is not an option.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to carry out existing pest and disease emergency response programs, such as virulent Newcastle disease, cattle fever tick and spotted lanternfly?

    A: APHIS will continue to carry out on-the-ground eradication and management activities where we have active pest and disease programs. This is a core component of our mission and we work in close coordination with states and industry to address pest and disease outbreaks that threaten American agriculture. However, employees will take necessary precautions to minimize face-to-face interactions with producers or the public, while carrying out these activities. We will also have policy staff working remotely to support on-the-ground activities.

    Q: What if a new pest or disease threat is detected?

    A: APHIS’ mission is protecting the health and value of America’s agriculture and natural resources, and it’s vital that we continue to respond to agricultural emergencies in coordination with state and industry partners.

    Q: How is APHIS assisting importers and exporters who need the signature of an Agency official on trade documents such as phytosanitary certificates and health certificates?

    A: APHIS understands the importance of facilitating trade and will continue to provide services to complete required paperwork to support the import and export of live animals and plants and animal products. To support social distancing and protect the health and safety of our employees, whenever possible, APHIS will seek to process these documents electronically. For more information about what services are available in your local area, please see the following resources:

    Animals and Animal Products:
    • For animal product imports, email apie@usda.gov or call 301-851-3300 option 4
    • For live animal imports, email vs.live.animal.import.export@usda.gov or call 301-851-3300 option 2
    • For live animal or animal product exports, please contact your local export service center
    Plants and Plant Products:
    • For import questions, email: plantproducts.permits@usda.gov or call 1-877-770-5990
    • For export questions, locate your export certification specialist here or call 301-851-2309

    Q: Will APHIS continue to conduct inspections of livestock at the border?

    A: APHIS understands the importance of facilitating trade and continues to have staff at the border to inspect livestock. Personnel at these facilities will take care to utilize all recommended social distancing precautions to ensure their health and safety while carrying out these functions.

    Q: Will APHIS have staff working at Plant Inspection Stations?

    A: APHIS understands the importance of facilitating trade at our plant inspection stations. These facilities will remain open to provide inspection services for plants arriving into the United States. Personnel at these facilities will take care to utilize all recommended social distancing precautions to ensure their health and safety. They will also be using additional personal protective equipment such as gloves and sanitizers while still conducting essential inspections. If a pest is identified and treatments are necessary to clear a commodity into American commerce, staff will be able to oversee these operations to ensure clearance in a timely fashion.

    Q: Will APHIS employees continue to work at military airbases and civilian airports to prevent wildlife strikes and safeguard the flying public?

    A: APHIS will continue to have wildlife specialists and biologists at these locations to protect members of our military and the flying public by dispersing birds and other wildlife from runways and flight paths. This work is largely conducted remotely in the field, and employees are safely able to carry out this essential duty with little interaction with the public or customers.

    Q: Is APHIS still conducting Animal Welfare Act inspections?

    A: APHIS is continuing to conduct regular inspections where local area and individual premises conditions allow our inspectors to maintain social distancing norms. APHIS will always place the highest priority on investigating reports of extreme Animal Welfare Act violations that could lead to the confiscation of animals. However, if a State or locality has issued a shelter-in-place order like San Francisco, inspectors will honor that order and not conduct inspections in that area at this time.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to conduct compliance inspections for field trials of genetically engineered organisms?

    A: APHIS will continue to conduct compliance assurance activities. At this time, APHIS is conducting virtual inspections of field trials, and will resume in-person, routine inspections when it is safe to travel. APHIS will continue investigating and is prepared to respond to any incidents involving noncompliance with regulated activities including field trials, and movement/importation of regulated genetically engineered materials. For questions about our compliance and inspection process and requirements; to report a compliance incident; or to submit a required report associated with a permit or notification, send an e-mail to: brscompliance@usda.gov.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security to continue operations at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and ensure the smooth transition of the National Bio- and Agro Defense (NBAF) Facility to USDA?

    A: The Plum Island Animal Disease Center continues to be operational to support testing for high consequence livestock diseases. APHIS, in coordination with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), also continues to work on the transition of this facility from Plum Island, New York to Manhattan, Kansas. We remain on track for USDA to take responsibility for NBAF operations in December 2020 with the formal transfer of ownership occurring in May 2021.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to provide laboratory support and disease confirmatory testing to other laboratories, state animal health officials, federal agencies and producers?

    A: APHIS is continuing to provide these important functions while prioritizing foreign and emerging animal disease testing and testing to protect public health and the agriculture economy.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to respond to active predator threats impacting agriculture, natural resources or human health and safety?

    A: APHIS will continue to conduct predator management activities across the country to protect livestock (including during the spring lambing and calving season), threatened and endangered wildlife, and human health and safety. This work, including aerial operations, is performed in the field with infrequent interaction with customers or the public, and thereby presents minimal risk of exposure to employees. WS will continue to talk with producers, with some accommodations, to reduce any potential risks.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to carry out its National Feral Swine Damage Management program?

    A: APHIS will continue to have specialists in the field to prevent damage caused by feral swine. This work is largely conducted remotely in the field, and employees are safely able to carry out this essential duty with little interaction with the public or customers. It is critical that we continue program activities so that we don’t lose ground in our on-going management and elimination programs.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to review license/permit submissions for veterinary biologics, complete biological products licensing actions, and ensure compliance with the Federal Virus Serum Toxin Act?

    A: APHIS will continue to carry out these important functions to ensure producers have access to safe and efficacious veterinary biologics to keep their herds and flocks healthy. APHIS will also ensure that biologics manufacturing facilities, and the products they produce, continue to meet requirements set forth in the Virus Serum Toxin Act. APHIS continues to evaluate license/permit applications, testing products and product components, while also conducting inspections/investigations as necessary.

    Q: Will APHIS continue to ensure compliance of facilities handling select agents to ensure proper storage and maintenance?

    A: At this time, APHIS’ Agriculture Select Agent Services (AgSAS) will not be conducting routine inspections. We do have the ability to extend registration validity to ensure that all facilities are authorized to possess, use or transfer select agents. Should a compliance issue arise, we have the ability to conduct the necessary follow up, including an inspection.

    Q: Are there restrictions for imported commodities as a result of COVID-19?

    A: There may be import requirements for certain commodities that contain animal-derived materials. APHIS has posted guidance for the import of these commodities here: www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/downloads/import/covid-19-info.pdf (PDF, 158 KB). APHIS will work directly with importers to expedite the process.

  • Q: Are those working in the agricultural sector considered Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers?

    A: Yes. As we all know, agriculture is vital to our country, and will play a vital role during the COVID-19 response. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency lists Food and Agricultural Workers as being among the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers for the COVID-19 response. It also lists the agricultural sector among 16 critical infrastructure sectors. In addition to providing safe and nutritious food for American families, the agricultural sector also accounts for roughly one-fifth of our nation’s economy. To learn more about the important role the food and agricultural sector plays in the COVID-19 response, please visit www.cisa.gov/food-and-agriculture-sector.

  • Q: Will updated Market News Reports continue to be available?

    A: AMS will continue to report commodity prices through its Market News service. Market News reporters continue to collect and compile data for Market News Reports. Reporters who typically collect this key wholesale, retail and shipping data in-person will continue to do so remotely. We are confident there will be no interruption to the availability of these reports.

  • Q: Will Economic Research Service (ERS) reports be released according to schedule?

    A: ERS is committed to on-time delivery of all high priority and mandated products – including all calendared items – as scheduled. ERS is fully prepared to perform its mission-related activities. Nearly all staff are telework ready and ERS is operating in a 100% cloud computing environment.

    Q: If release times are missed, will the reports eventually be released?

    A: ERS does not anticipate a delay in release of calendared items. If a delay becomes unavoidable, ERS and USDA calendars will be updated to reflect the new release date.

    Q: Is ERS still releasing new research reports?

    A: Yes. ERS continues to release research reports following its normal process. As with all our mission critical operations, we continue to plan and evaluate our efforts to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and stakeholders.

    Q: How have processes changed inside ERS due to COVID-19?

    A: ERS is fully prepared to deliver its regular mission-related activities and to support Departmental needs for analysis in a virtual environment. Nearly 100% of staff are telework ready and ERS is operating in a 100% cloud computing environment.

    Q: Is ERS continuing to hire new staff and how will they begin working once hired?

    A: ERS is continuing to hire. Current vacancies may be viewed on the ERS Careers Page and applicants should continue to apply through USAJobs. New hires are being virtually onboard so that they can work remotely from day one until we can return to the office.

  • Q: Can I become sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) from food?

    A: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

    Q: Are meat products compromised by the Coronavirus?

    A: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

    Q: Is FSIS taking any extra precautions when receiving food products from nations that have confirmed cases of COVID-19?

    A: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

    Q: Is food imported to the United States from China and other countries affected by COVID-19 at risk of spreading COVID-19?

    A: Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

    Q: Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

    A: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety — clean, separate, cook, and chill.

    Q: If an inspector or worker in a meat processing plant became infected with coronavirus, would the meat produced at that facility be safe to eat?

    A: Public health and food safety experts do not have any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. FSIS in-plant personnel who are ill with COVID-19 or any other illness will be excluded from work activities that could create unsanitary conditions (coughing or sneezing on product). COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. More information about how the virus spread is available from the CDC (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html).

    Q: Where should the food industry go for guidance about business operations?

    A: Food facilities, like other work establishments, need to follow protocols set by local and state health departments, which may vary depending on the amount of community spread of COVID-19 in a particular area. We encourage coordination with local health officials for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside.

    Q: Is FSIS requesting that plants report to FSIS if employees become ill with COVID-19? Will the Agency reciprocate?

    A: In the event of a diagnosed COVID-19 illness, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will follow, and is encouraging establishments to follow, the recommendations of local public health authorities regarding notification of potential contacts. FSIS will keep the lines of communication open so we can address the evolving situation.

    Q: Have any of FSIS’ audits of foreign countries’ (or foreign countries auditing the U.S.’) food safety systems been delayed due to COVID-19?

    A: As USDA’s public health agency, FSIS is committed to ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of all imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products for American families. For the safety of our auditors, FSIS does not provide the dates when the auditors are scheduled to conduct in-country equivalence audits in a foreign country. FSIS has delayed both U.S. and foreign country audits in accordance with the State Department’s guidance. FSIS continues to monitor the situation and will evaluate the feasibility of its upcoming audits as the situation evolves, including reviewing State Department guidance on foreign travel.

    Q: How will FSIS-regulated establishments handle cleanup if cases have been identified at the facility?

    A: Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. All FSIS-regulated establishments are required to have Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (Sanitation SOP), which are written procedures that an establishment develops and implements to prevent direct contamination or adulteration of product. It is the establishment’s responsibility to implement the procedures as written in the Sanitation SOPs. The establishment must maintain daily records sufficient to document the implementation and monitoring of the Sanitation SOPs and any corrective action taken. FSIS verifies that regulated establishments adhere to the procedures in place. The same sanitary procedures that establishments are already following to protect food safety will also help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a list of disinfectants that have qualified under EPA's emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

    Q: Is FSIS requesting/requiring their employees to report if they have been to a Level 3 country (Level 1 or 2)?

    A: FSIS employees will be following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) and State Department’s recommendations for travel.

    Q: Can a county health department or state government shut down an FSIS-regulated establishment?

    A: Yes, and FSIS will follow state and local health department decisions.

    Q: Is FSIS prepared to handle an increased rate of absenteeism of food inspectors due to COVID-19?

    A: Safeguarding and ensuring the U.S. supply chain remains strong is our top priority. Our front-line supervisors and district managers are working closely with state and local health authorities to handle situations as they arise. FSIS is prepared to be operationally nimble and to use all administrative means and flexibilities available to protect the health and safety of employees based on local public health recommendations. Planning for absenteeism is a part of normal FSIS operations. FSIS has a plan and authority to address staffing considerations and is prepared to act accordingly.

    Q: Is FSIS encouraging inspectors to stay home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms?

    A: FSIS always encourages employees who are sick to stay home. Employees exhibiting symptoms are also encouraged to follow recommendations from local, state and Federal public health regarding reporting of illness, consulting with healthcare providers and self-quarantining as necessary.

    Q: How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?

    A: Workers in the food and agriculture sector fill critical and essential roles within communities. This reality was reinforced by food and agriculture inclusion in a list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers (PDF, 591 KB) published last week by DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. To prevent spread of COVID-19, CDC is recommending individuals employ social distancing or maintaining approximately 6 feet from others, when possible. In food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments, an evaluation should be made to identify and implement operational changes that increase employee separation. However, social distancing to the full 6 feet will not be possible in some food facilities.

    The risk of an employee transmitting COVID-19 to another is dependent on distance between employees, the duration of the exposure, and the effectiveness of employee hygiene practices and sanitation. When it’s impractical for employees in these settings to maintain social distancing, effective hygiene practices should be maintained to reduce the chance of spreading the virus.

    IMPORTANT: Maintaining social distancing in the absence of effective hygiene practices may not prevent the spread of this virus. Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces.

    Because the intensity of the COVID-19 outbreak may differ according to geographic location, coordination with state and local officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside.

    Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick (PDF, 516 KB) with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    Q: A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees?

    A: All components of the food industry are considered critical infrastructure and it is therefore vital that they continue to operate.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (PDF, 591 KB) that includes information on how a COVID-19 outbreak could affect workplaces and steps all employers can take (PDF, 1.1 MB) to reduce workers’ risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

    Food production/processing facilities/farms need to follow protocols, including cleaning protocols, set by local and state health departments, which may vary depending on the amount of community spread of COVID-19 in a given area. These decisions will be based on public health risk of person-to-person transmission – not based on food safety.

    If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality about individual employees’ identities. Sick employees should follow the CDC’s What to do if you are sick (PDF, 516 KB) with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    CDC’s Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Managements of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposures: Geographic Risk and Contacts of Laboratory-confirmed Cases, provides a framework for assessing and managing risks of potential exposures to SARS-CoV-2.

    Q: Should employees in food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19?

    A: On Friday, April 3rd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated recommendation on the use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

    CDC is recommending the voluntary use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Per the CDC, the purpose of wearing a face covering is to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus from individuals who may be infected, but are not showing symptoms.

    Additional information on how to make and wear cloth face coverings is available on the CDC website. CDC recommends that face coverings should:

    • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
    • be secured with ties or ear loops
    • include multiple layers of fabric
    • allow for breathing without restriction
    • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

    NOTE: The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

    Q: Are meat, poultry, and processed egg products inspection services and the issuance of export documentation being discontinued by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak?

    A: No. Meat, poultry, and processed egg inspection services, including export certification services, continue as normal. Planning for absenteeism is a part of normal FSIS operations and as such, FSIS is closely monitoring and tracking employee absenteeism to plan for and minimize impacts to operations. FSIS is working to prioritize inspection at establishments based on local conditions and resources available.

    Q: Are food products produced in the United States and exported a risk for the spread of COVID-19?

    A: No. There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19. Additionally, currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

    Q: Want to see what the FDA is doing?

    A: The FDA also has a list of frequently asked questions such as:

    • Is the U.S. food supply safe?
    • Will there be food shortages?
    • What measures are FDA (and CDC, state partners, etc.) taking to ensure that we remain able to address foodborne illness outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic?
    See more on FDA's Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
  • Q: Will Forest Service work continue?

    A: Our mission-critical work, such as suppressing wildfires, law enforcement and other public service responsibilities, will continue within appropriate risk management strategies, current guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, and local health and safety guidelines. At this time, the Forest Service continues to remain operational, and we are committed to the continuity of our mission.

    In areas of community spread where telework has been maximized, we are working to exercise our technology capabilities where possible to ensure connection and service to the public. Many activities, approvals, and field work will be accomplished remotely or in a manner that limits exposure.

    Q: Will recreation sites and facilities stay open?

    A: In coordination with state and local health and safety guidelines, National Forests remain open however recreation services at our facilities may be changed, suspended or offered through alternate approaches as we manage for the health and safety of our work force and the public. Agency direction tasks local managers to perform risk assessments of our facilities and limit congregations of people and person to person interactions. Our decisions will align with local city, county and state actions to provide for human health and safety (ie. quarantine, curfew, and other social restrictions).

    Q: Can the public still make reservations through www.recreation.gov?

    A: The Forest Service continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts and adjustments to reservations and our reservation policies through Recreation.gov. Reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages if there are any changes affecting their reservation. In the event of delayed openings of some, part or all of the campgrounds and cabins to ensure safe social distancing, visitors will receive a full refund for their reservation. Please remember to review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and focus on recreating safely while protecting yourself, Forest Service employees and our volunteers.

    Q: Can the public still visit visitor centers and other large gathering facilities?

    A: In coordination with state and local health and safety guidelines, National Forests remain open however recreation services at our facilities may be changed, suspended or offered through alternate approaches as we manage for the health and safety of our work force and the public. Agency direction tasks local managers to perform risk assessments of our facilities and limit congregations of people and person to person interactions. Our decisions will align with local city, county and state actions to provide for human health and safety (ie. quarantine, curfew, and other social restrictions).

    Q: What can the public do to practice social distancing while recreating on National Forest System lands?

    A: Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

    Q: What will happen to current special-use permits?

    A: Special Use Permits will remain valid and in effect. Monitoring work associated with permit administration may experience delays. Valid permits issued for uses that focus on customer service, such as ski resorts, organizational camps, club activities, etc. will remain in effect and operations will be under the discretion of the organization or individual holding the permit.

    Q: Will land exchange projects continue?

    A: Land exchange projects will continue and may experience delays associated as the agency transitions to virtual delivery of mission work.

    Q: Will active mining projects continue to operate?

    A: Plans of operations for active mining projects will continue. Administration of monitoring activities or processing minerals or mining requests may experience delays as employees try to do business in new ways.

    Q: Will timber and vegetation management projects continue?

    A: As appropriate within current department direction, field work will continue to focus on managing vegetation, restoring ecosystems, reducing hazards and maintaining forest health. Meetings will be limited to minimum levels necessary to complete tasks. Work will continue either in office or remote.

    Q: What about non-essential operations related to research and data collection?

    A: For non-essential operations and functions, field work (i.e. timber surveys, permit inspections, prescribed fire, scientific surveys and forest health monitoring) related to critical research and forest health may be impacted temporarily or permanently with loss in annual data collection. The severity of impact, the loss of data collection will depend upon the critical nature of the program and connections with customers.

    Q: Will administration of grazing permits continue?

    A: Administration of current grazing (yearlong and winter grazing allotments for example) will continue. Allotment inspections may be delayed but will continue. Planning and other annual rotation adjustment meetings can continue to occur remotely or in accordance with CDC/OPM guidance.

    Q: How will the Forest Service respond to wildfires?

    A: Our essential mission functions, such as suppressing wildfires and other public health and safety responsibilities, will continue within appropriate risk management strategies, current guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, and local health and safety guidelines. We are currently evaluating and updating our approach and strategies to prepared and respond to wildfires in light of the new risks presented by the Coronavirus.

    Q: What will happen if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs among firefighters?

    A: The USDA Forest Service and Department of the Interior are updating plans and responses for various disease outbreak scenarios in the United States, including the “Pandemic Response and Preparedness Plan for the Federal Wildland Fire Agencies,” and the “Infectious Diseases Guidelines for Wildland Fire Incident Management Teams”. These plans institute appropriate mitigation activities during wildland fire response actions to ensure national wildland fire response capability.

    Q: Has the USDA Forest Service paused its prescribed burning program in response to COVID-19 risks?

    A: The USDA Forest Service has not issued agency-wide direction to pause all prescribed burning activity. The USDA Forest Service is taking a risk-informed approach to managing prescribed fire by evaluating the following factors: (1) the ability to maintain fire responder viability and sustainability; (2) potential smoke impacts to communities from prescribed fire and how that interacts with COVID-19 effects; and (3) the ability to use local resources so inter-state travel is not necessary. We will continue to adapt as the situation evolves and work in coordination with local and state health organizations.

    Q: How will the changes to USDA Forest Service prescribed fire operations affect the wildfire risk for the year?

    A: The level of impact will depend on multiple factor, including the severity of the impact of COVID-19 across the country. Wildfire risk is greatly dependent on weather, so the actual risk from a wildfire could be higher or lower than average depending on the weather we experience this summer.

    Q: How is smoke being managed for prescribed fires that were lit prior to the regional pause?

    A: Fire officials continue to monitor all ongoing prescribed fire projects. As always, we will continue to work in close coordination with local and state health organizations and make any necessary changes should the need arise.

  • Q: Will quality grading and inspection services continue?

    A: AMS continues to provide critical inspections and grading services. AMS is ensuring the health and safety of USDA employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farms to forks. If needed, AMS is prepared to remedy any possible disruptions in services.

    Q: Should I be concerned about allowing a grader into my facility?

    A: All USDA employees have received guidance on protocols, preventative measures and mitigation guidelines regarding COVID-19. USDA guidance is consistent with CDC guidance. AMS is ensuring the health and safety of USDA employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farms to forks. As always, AMS in-plant personnel, including quality graders and inspectors are instructed to stay home if they are ill. In addition, employees who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether at the workplace, their home or other, have also been instructed to stay home.

    Q: Will auditing services continue?

    A: AMS continues to provide auditing and accreditation services. If needed, AMS is prepared to remedy any possible disruptions in services.

  • Q: Will NASS reports be released according to schedule?

    A: At this time, all reports remain on schedule. While we are making every effort to continue delivering federal agricultural statistics, the health and safety of our employees and producers is our first priority. We will evaluate each NASS report as conditions change and will announce any changes to our report schedule on our website and Twitter as soon as they are available.

    Q: If release times are missed, will the reports eventually be released?

    A: Our intent is to release all reports, but we’ll evaluate each one on a case-by-case basis. There are several factors to consider such as timing of reports and whether we’re able to collect enough information. If we’re unable to collect sufficient data, then we can’t publish the report. So, we are asking our survey recipients to respond online.

    Q: Would surveys with less-than-normal response rates be released?

    A: NASS only publishes estimates that meet our high standards of accuracy. The quality of the data is impacted by the quality of response. We use proven statistical methods that account for a certain level of non-response. While there are minimum amounts of data that we need to collect for reporting accuracy, we use statistical analysis to determine if the data we have collected are sufficient.

    Q: NASS is not fully staffed, will new surveys be initiated?

    A: Our goal is to move forward with all scheduled surveys. As with all of our mission critical operations, we continue to plan and evaluate our efforts to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and stakeholders.

    Q: How have processes changed inside NASS due to COVID-19?

    A: Procedurally, we remain the same. Estimates are still set in NASS’ secure space to protect reports until they are publicly released at preannounced dates and times. We’re doing everything we can to slow the spread of the virus and continue to deliver important agricultural data. A lot of work is being done remotely. We have also suspended in-person data collection and are asking producers to respond online to minimize the need for follow-up and in-house mail processing.

    Q: What does NASS want farmers and market participants to know about what’s happening at the agency right now?

    A: We want everyone to know that we are doing everything we can to keep all parties involved safe, and to continue producing the data that American agriculture counts on. Crop and livestock production and economic reports provide indicators of food and feed supply and show the financial condition of U.S. agriculture. It’s critical to know how this looks coming into the growing season. To produce these vital reports, we need strong response. Responding online is fast, secure, and user friendly. We’re happy to help producers with their surveys or questions by e-mail or phone. Our nation’s farmers are counting on us and we’re here to help.

  • Q: Are grant proposal submission deadlines being extended?

    A: Please see the USDA NIFA Deadline Extensions Due to COVID-19 page for NIFA program deadlines being extended due to coronavirus impact.

    Q: Are NIFA awards covered under OMB’s M-20-17, “Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations?”

    A: Yes, please visit NIFA’s Coronavirus web page www.nifa.usda.gov/coronavirus for guidance to the OMB memo, which provides administrative relief to recipients and applicants affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis. Additional questions regarding administrative relief provisions should be directed to USDA NIFA’s Awards Management Division at awards@usda.gov.

    Q: What are my options if the COVID-19 emergency does not allow me to complete my NIFA-funded project?

    A: The grant project directors can contact the NIFA National Program Leader assigned to the project during the last year of the project to discuss various options. This includes adjusting the project scope, giving a No-Cost Extension, and providing supplemental funding for completing the project.

    Q: My organization is under a shelter-in-place order due to COVID-19. My project cannot perform research during this time. If the project cannot be completed in the original duration or budget, what are my options?

    A: If a recipient faces challenges to meet the award program objectives, they should contact the NIFA National Program Leader once the memo expires or in the final year of the award, whichever is first. Besides administrative options, supplemental funding requests may be considered depending on the justification. To discuss any concerns related to salaries, stipends, and benefit rates and staffing levels, anticipated shortfalls or other administrative options, which may include No-Cost Extensions and change in scope, please contact NIFA at awards@usda.gov to consult with a grants specialist about the organization’s specific circumstances.

    Q: How do I request a No-Cost Extension?

    A: For competitive grants, please check your award Terms and Conditions for information on how to request a No-Cost Extension (NCE). NIFA is still evaluating the options for capacity grants.

    Q: Who do I contact for questions about my grant?

    A: Please contact the National Program Leader listed as contact for your program. For questions about awards, please contact NIFA at awards@usda.gov to consult with a grant.

  • On March 27th, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This package appropriated $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is a guaranteed loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The purpose of the program is to support small businesses and help support their payroll during the coronavirus situation.

    Q: Are agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

    A: Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers with 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States are eligible.

    Farms are eligible if: (i) the farm has 500 or less employees, OR (ii) it fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is on average annual receipts of $1M.

    Additionally, farms can qualify for PPP if it meets SBA’s “alternative size standard.” The “alternative size standard” is currently: (1) a maximum net worth of the business not more than $15 million, AND (2) the average net income Federal income taxes of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application be not more than $5 million.

    Q: Are agricultural and other forms of cooperatives eligible for PPP?

    A: As long as other eligibility requirements are met, small agricultural cooperatives may receive PPP loans. Other forms of cooperatives may be eligible provided they comply with all other Loan Program Requirements (as defined in 13 CFR 120.10).

    Q: Do H-2A or H-2B workers on my payroll count towards my eligibility and total possible loan amount?

    A: Only employees with a principal place of residence in the U.S. count toward eligibility and calculation of the PPP loan amount.

    Q: How do sole proprietor farmers provide accurate documentation regarding payroll, when they may not take a traditional salary?

    A: SBA requires sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other eligible self-employed individuals to provide documentation to its lender that the business was in operation as of February 15, 2020. This documentation may include payroll processor records, payroll tax filings, or Form 1099-MISC, or income and expenses from a sole proprietorship. For borrowers that do not have any such documentation, the borrower must provide other supporting documentation to its lender, such as bank records, sufficient to demonstrate the qualifying payroll amount.

    Documentation options for payroll tax filings include the following:

    IRS Form 941 (quarterly wages); IRS Form 944 (calendar year wages); State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings; QuickBooks; bank repository accounts; and/or internally generated profit and loss statements. However:

    • Nonprofit organizations must include IRS Form 990;
    • Sole proprietors must include IRS Form 1040 Schedule C;
    • Any entity that filed IRS Form 1099-MISC must include this form;
    • Seasonal employers must document the period beginning February 15, 2019 through June 30, 2019

    More extensive FAQs can be found at the Treasury Department’s CARES Act website (PDF, 50 KB).

  • Q: Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick from coronavirus (COVID-19)?

    A: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

    Q: Can I get COVID-19 from my pet or other animals?

    A: There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

    Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

    However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

  • Q: What agency should I contact if I believe I have not received a fair price for my livestock or I suspect packers are depressing or manipulating livestock prices?

    A: The AMS Packers and Stockyards Division monitors industry activities and reviews and investigates to determine whether regulated entities are complying with the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) and regulations. AMS encourages farmers, ranchers and other producers, consumers, and members of the livestock, meat, and poultry industries to report incidents of a) slow, insufficient, or non-payment for livestock, meat, or poultry, b) potential antitrust practices, or c) unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent practices by packers, stockyards, livestock market agencies or livestock dealers. See the P&S Act Fact Sheet (PDF, 398 KB) for a more complete description of the practices subject to AMS's enforcement.

    Any person can report violations or suspected violations and abuses in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries to the AMS Packers and Stockyards Division at psdcomplaints@usda.gov.

    AMS Market News does not have any regulatory authority over industry or market activities.

    Q: What agency should I contact if I suspect price manipulation or discriminatory pricing associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for meat or poultry commodities at the wholesale level?

    A: The AMS Packers and Stockyards Division monitors industry activities and conducts regulatory compliance reviews and investigations to determine whether subject persons and firms are complying with the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) and regulations. You should contact the AMS Packers and Stockyards Division at psdcomplaints@usda.gov.

    Q: What agency should I contact if I suspect price fixing, bid rigging, market allocation, or other fraudulent and illegal schemes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for other wholesale commodities such as eggs, dairy, or produce?

    A: If these commodities are part of interstate commerce, you should contact the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. More information can be found at www.justice.gov and www.ftc.gov. You may submit a complaint directly to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division at www.justice.gov/atr/citizen-complaint-center.

    Q: What agency should I contact if I suspect price gouging associated with the COVID-19 pandemic at the retail level for consumers?

    A: In this case, you should contact your state Attorney General’s office. More information can be found at www.consumerresources.org which provides a host of consumer protection information from the state and territory attorneys general, including actions attorneys general are taking to protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Department of Justice created a task force (PDF, 405 KB) to address COVID-19-related market manipulation, hoarding, and price gouging. More information about the Department of Justice’s efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

    Q: Who should I contact if I suspect price manipulation in the markets for grain or livestock commodities that are traded in the futures markets?

    A: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) conducts futures market surveillance as part of the market oversight mission. You can find more information at www.cftc.gov/coronavirus.

  • Q: Does Coronavirus delay implementation of the China Phase One Deal?

    A: The U.S. Trade Representative, which is responsible for implementing the Phase One trade agreement, has had no conversations like this with our Chinese counterparts. We expect that the Chinese will meet their commitments under the agreement.

  • Q: I am concerned about Farm Service Agency farm loans. How will direct and guaranteed loans be impacted by COVID-19? What about the loan-making process?

    A: Producers can continue to apply for farm loans and get their current loans serviced. Farm loans are critical for annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs, and cash flow in challenging times like now.

    USDA’s Farm Service Agency is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need. More information is available on farmers.gov/coronavirus.

  • Q: Can I conduct my USDA business without having to physically come to a service center?

    A: USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing.

    Online services are available to producers with a Level 2 eAuthentication account, which provides access to the farmers.gov portal and Conservation Client Gateway. Available services include:

    • View loan information, history, and payments for USDA farm loans.
    • Track NRCS payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign certain NRCS documents.

    Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll by selecting the “Sign In | Sign Up” on farmers.gov. This page provides step-by-step instructions for creating an account.

    Q: What do I do if I have questions on USDA programs/loans, or need to make a repayment?

    A: Updated information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency programs and services can be found on farmers.gov/coronavirus.

    USDA Service Centers are currently open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible.

    Loan payments can be mailed to the FSA office at your local USDA Service Center.

    Q: How will I know if my service center is closed, or not open to the public?

    A: All USDA Service Centers are currently open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing. Producers can find their Service Center’s phone number at farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

    Q: How will this impact my local office and the services I need to receive?

    A: USDA staff are available to continue helping agricultural producers with program signups, loan servicing, conservation planning assistance, and other important actions. You can learn more about steps USDA is taking in response to COVID-19 to continue supporting farmers and ranchers at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

    Producers can continue to apply for farm loan, disaster assistance, safety net, and conservation programs as well as crop insurance. Additionally, USDA is adding flexibilities for farm loans and crop insurance. More information is available on farmers.gov/coronavirus.


USDA Announces Second Application Window for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program Funding

USDA Statement on the Confirmation of COVID-19 in a Tiger in New York

USDA Working with Dairy Industry to Ensure Americans’ Consistent Access to Milk

USDA Temporarily Extends Expiration Dates for Some Good Agricultural Practices, Domestic Origin Verification, Plant Systems Audit Program Certifications

USDA Grants Lenders Temporary Exception to Offer Payment Deferrals for Agency Guaranteed Loan Program (PDF, 243 KB)

USDA Provides Flexibility to the Shell Egg Industry

Secretary Perdue Applauds State Department’s H-2 Decision

USDA Makes it Easier to Feed Kids and Those Who Need Food During the COVID-19 National Emergency

USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19

USDA Feeds Kids, Helps Families During COVID-19 Emergency

USDA Closes Public Access to U.S. National Arboretum

Perdue Says Food System "Alive and Well", Despite Covid-19 Challenges

USDA Working with Private Sector in Response to COVID-19

USDA Ensures Food Safety During COVID-19 Outbreak

USDA Continues Focus on Service During COVID-19 Outbreak

USDA Announces Feeding Program Partnership in Response to COVID-19

Notice to Stakeholders: USDA Extends Comment Period on Proposed School and Summer Meal Reforms

Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Declaration of National Emergency Regarding COVID-19

Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Address to the Nation Regarding COVID-19

Secretary Perdue: “If Schools are Closed, We are Going to do our Very Best to Make Sure Kids are Fed”

Secretary Perdue Announces Proactive Flexibilities to Feed Children When Schools Close

USDA and HHS Announce Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting Will be Held Online

USDA Makes It Easier, Safer to Feed Children Amid Washington State Coronavirus Outbreak

USDA Makes It Easier, Safer to Feed Children in California Amid Coronavirus Outbreak


 www.coronavirus.gov

 Frequently Asked Questions from the CDC

 CDC Situation Summary

 FEMA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response

 State Department Travel Information

 Homeland Security Resources

 World Health Organization

 EPA Disinfectant List


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