On Friday, March 13, the President of the United States (POTUS) held a news conference regarding the global pandemic COVID-19 and declared a national emergency. This declaration will open up $60 billion to help the fight against the virus. Every state has been requested to set up Emergency Operations Centers and every hospital in the United States is activating emergency preparedness plans to meet the needs of Americans everywhere. The declaration also allows officials at the Department of Health and Human Services the ability to waive laws to enable telehealth so that remote doctor visits are feasible. The National Guard has said that it will deploy a maximum of 1,000 troops in six states by the end of the day (Friday). The Guard is also evaluating military bases across the country to use for “isolation housing” to stock medical supplies.
An announcement was made regarding a new partnership with the private sector to increase the capacity to test for COVID-19. 1.4 million tests are to be available next week and 5 million within a month. Pharmacies and retailers are planning to make drive thru tests available in critical locations so that individuals are able to get tested for the virus while remaining in their vehicles. Google is in the process of developing a website to determine whether or not a test is warranted and if so, to facilitate testing at a convenient location. Labs are to provide results within 24-36 hours after testing. On Sunday evening, the public will receive specific guidance on when the website will be operational.
The President also announced a few emergency Executive actions that have been implemented such as waiving interest in all student loans via helped from federal government agencies. Based on the price of oil, the Secretary of Energy has also purchased large quantities of crude oil for storage in the U.S. strategic reserve. Ultimately, these measures are aiming to save the American taxpayer billions of dollars, improve the oil industry, and help establish energy independence. When questioned about other specific targeted measures that the Administration is taking, the President stated that a report will be released in two hours regarding additional steps.
When questioned on the President’s photograph with an individual that was tested positive for COVID-19, he stated that he has no symptoms. When asked about how long the American people will have to remain in an emergency state, the President stated that it is impossible to predict the time element.
Last week, Tenable published a broad-ranging vulnerability assessment report that claimed to identify four distinct assessment “styles” leveraged by organizations. According to their research, the results provide insight on vulnerability assessment maturation and how to measure it.
In the report, Tenable indicates that the “utilities industry had the highest proportion of the low-maturity Minimalist style overall.” The report also stated that the “utilities industry showed no representatives who followed the mature Diligent style.”
The company states that the report was based on compiling data (methods and results) from 300,000+ scans on 2,100+ individual organizations across 66 countries over a three-month period (March to May 2018). Their report states that they used machine learning algorithms against that data to develop their findings.
Tenable did not clarify what criteria was used to select participant organizations or how each organization was categorized into the eighteen industry categories detailed in the report. They also did not clarify the number of organizations within the “utility” group that were electricity companies.
Tenable is the company behind the commercial version of Nessus, a vulnerability scanner.
Update to OE-417
The updated OE-417 form is going through the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review now after two rounds of public comment. Since the updated form is under review, the current version will stay in effect until the new version is approved. DOE will update the website with a message noting the continued use of the current version pending recertification.
Updated ESCC COVID-19 Resource Guide
This is an updated novel coronavirus (or COVID-19) Resource Guide for the electric power industry. This living document was developed under the direction of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), with participation from all segments of the industry and the natural gas sector. It provides information and options to consider when making localized decisions in response to the current global health emergency.