WASHINGTON—Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA has announced that there will be no national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System in 2020.
FEMA will postpone the next test to 2021 “out of consideration for the unusual circumstances and working conditions for those in the broadcast and cable industry,” the announcement reads. The organization notes that the issue lies in the reporting activities associated with the tests, saying that the systems are in place for rapid automatic transmission of the test message by broadcast and cable operators.
IPAWS is a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and information messaging to the public through cell phones and internet applications using Wireless Emergency Alerts, and to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System.
FEMA is required to test IPAWS at least every three years. The last test for Wireless Emergency Alerts occurred in 2018. The last Emergency Alert System test was in 2019.
According to FEMA, more than 360 safety messages regarding COVID-19 have been sent out to residents across the country via WEA and EAS.