(WJZ)- The Howard County Government announced this week that they have partnered with the Maryland National Guard’s Joint Cyber Security Task Force to increase the county’s cyber protection in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county’s Department of Technology and Communication Services says that the partnership is expected to add more support and raise the level of cybersecurity readiness during this time of crisis.

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“Howard County is the first county in Maryland to enlist the services of the Maryland National Guard to increase cyber readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our team recognized the potential of increased cyber threats and worked swiftly with the National Guard to evaluate vulnerabilities and solutions.”

According to Brandee Ganz, the director of the county’s DTCS, Howard County is the first to enter into this kind of partnership with the National Guard in order to increase cybersecurity vigilance.

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In addition to the National Guard partnership, the county announced that it’s Paycheck Protection Program is once again accepting applications from small business owners following the allocation of more funding to the program.

Interested business owners can apply online at the Howard County Economic Development Authority portal.

The program provides up to $10 million in forgivable loans to assist businesses in keeping their employees. Businesses may still be eligible even if they have already reduced their employment as the program counts employment levels prior to February 15.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.