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FEMA Says No National Alert Test This Year

Agency delays to 2021, citing COVID-19

There will be no national IPAWS test this year in the United States. So radio stations, you won’t have to fill out those ETRS forms for awhile.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the next one will be pushed to 2021 because of the impact that the COVID-19 emergency has had on broadcasters and cable operators.

The agency must test the system at least once every three years.

“FEMA is moving the next national test of the system to 2021 out of consideration for the unusual circumstances and working conditions for those in the broadcast and cable industry,” it stated in the announcement.

“Although systems remain in place for rapid automatic transmission of the test message by broadcast and cable operators, the follow-on reporting activities associated with a national test place additional burdens on technical staff that are already quite busy maintaining as close to normal operation as possible.”

FEMA conducted its fifth nationwide test, focused on the Emergency Alert System, in August 2019. The national Wireless Emergency Alert capability was most recently tested in conjunction with EAS the year before that.

[Read about the results of the 2019 EAS test.]

IPAWS, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, sends emergency alerts and information to the public through EAS and through cell phones and the internet using WEA. The system has been getting use during the pandemic; according to FEMA, officials around the country have sent more than 360 safety messages about the health crisis via WEA and EAS.

[Learn about nationwide alerting tests.]

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