COVID-19 Federal IT Diary for March 16

The Federal government and other entities are adjusting to and planning for the impact of the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus. Here’s a quick look at some of the top developments of interest to the Federal IT community:

President Trump Advises Against Gatherings Over 10 or More People

President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America released today included a recommendation against social gatherings larger than 10 people. The guidelines encourage working from home whenever possible, with the exception of employees in the critical infrastructure industry. Personal hygiene, such as regular handwashing and staying home when sick, are also recommended.

 

MTEC May Start Seeking Proposals to Combat COVID-19

Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium, a biomedical technology consortium under the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, announced the “possibility of one or more upcoming RPPs [Request for Project Proposals] focused on combating COVID-19.” The proposal would seek out point-of-care diagnostic measures, prevention measures, disease predictive modeling, and patient monitoring that includes interface into the Cerner electronic health record. A timeline for the RPPs has not been announced.

 

DoD Says 37 Pentagon Employees Contracted COVID-19

In a press conference on Monday, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that 37 people within the department have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus, and that DoD is suspending most domestic travel for the agency.

Among those who have contracted the virus, 18 are military members, 13 are dependents, three are civilians, and three are contractors. Additionally, 495 DoD employees have been tested for COVID-19.

The DoD is also moving forward with plans to keep Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Deputy Secretary David Norquist separated, with DoD spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman saying: “that means that they and their staff will only interact via teleconference.” He added that DoD will be “screening people that are entering the secretary’s suite and limiting the number of people who have access as well.”

“We are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide updates each day as we receive them,” Hoffman said.

VPN Usage Rates Popping in Virus-Hit Countries

Virtual private network (VPN) usage is increasing in countries hard hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus, reflecting large increases in telework among other factors, according to a new report from Atlas VPN.

Tracking numbers from the past week, the firm said VPN usage more than doubled in Italy, grew by 53 percent in the U.S., and jumped by more than a third in each of Iran, Russia, and Spain. The firm estimated that VPN usage in the U.S. could grow by 150 percent by the end of this month.

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