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From Cyber Defense to COVID-19 Defense

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One of Palo Alto Networks’ own is on the frontlines of the United States’ fight against coronavirus. Senior Director of IT Business Operations Steve Januario has been serving the nation’s military since 1997 and currently is Inspector General for the 195th Wing of the California Air National Guard, overseeing inspections for Cyber Defense, Intelligence, Space and Combat Communications. In a typical, non-pandemic year, this involves about one weekend a month of service, but there’s nothing typical about this year. When California Governor Gavin Newsom activated the Guard on March 23rd to assist in the state’s COVID-19 response, Steve said goodbye to his family (not to mention the new desk he’d purchased for working from home) and headed for the Sacramento area to bring his leadership skills to a new kind of battle.

While living in a hotel since March 24th, Steve has been performing his Palo Alto Networks duties in the morning and heading to an Army facility to work the long, daily swing shift as Battle Captain for the Guard, working with a team on an operations floor to oversee troop movement through California as part of the Guard’s four-fold COVID-19 response effort: working at area food bank facilities, providing logistical support for medical supply distribution, managing nursing stations, and operating homeless shelters.

“The Guard is doing a lot of great things,” Steve says. “We’ve packaged over 50 million meals at these food banks over the last several months, and we’ve been able to help communities in need throughout California.”

He credits the whole Palo Alto Networks IT Services team for its support while his time has been limited, especially as the unprecedented demands of getting the entire company transitioned to remote work were at their peak. He’s optimistic that California’s aggressive efforts to flatten the coronavirus curve will pay off. “People should feel assured that we have all the necessary equipment and food, and they should continue to stay home or follow safe social distancing and wear masks when going out,” he says. “This is something we’re taking very seriously… hopefully, we’ll start to see this taper off soon.”

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