03/23/2020: Update on COVID-19 Coronavirus Response

Update on COVID-19 Coronavirus Response

March 23, 2020
As we continue to deal with the threats and challenges posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to reach out to you with updates on how the crisis is being addressed in Congress and in Hawai‘i.
I and my team remain hard at work and should you have any questions, please call me at (808) 541-1986, email me at TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov or visit my website at gabbard.house.gov.
With Aloha,
Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress (HI-02)

Telephone Town Hall with Lt. Gov. Josh Green

On Wednesday, March 18, I hosted a telephone town hall meeting with Lt. Gov. Josh Green to update you on the latest developments in our fight against this pandemic. Together, we covered the state’s response as well as what Congress is doing — including efforts I have led to protect Hawai‘i and care for those who are being hit worst by this crisis.
Over 10,000 people joined us on the call where we covered issues from testing protocols to the impact on small businesses as well as health and financial resources available to those in need. You can listen to last week’s telephone town hall online.
In the coming weeks, I will host additional telephone town hall events to keep you informed of developments and help answer questions you may have. We will be sending out emails to our e-newsletter subscribers in advance of each telephone town hall with details on how to participate.
Our next telephone town hall meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 4:00pm. I will be joined by Lt. Gov. Josh Green once again with new updates and answers to your questions. You can call (888) 476-4187 at that time to directly join the call.

Restricting Travel, More Testing Needed, and Working to Limit the Economic Fallout of the Pandemic

Sadly, here in Hawai‘i, travel restrictions that would ensure a quarantine for all travelers coming from outside Hawai‘i are still not being implemented -- Governor Ige delaying the implementation of this quarantine to Thursday. I have called on the governor to IMMEDIATELY impose a 14-day self-quarantine of arriving travelers and returning residents, to temporarily close hotels, suspend all tour bus operations and rental car services.
I was one of the first Members of Congress to call on the Trump Administration to limit travel from countries worst hit by the coronavirus in its earliest days. I also urged the Federal government to suspend cruise line operations — particularly given the challenges the industry has faced with the spread of the virus onboard.
The COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic has also stranded many U.S. Citizens and Permanent Legal Residents abroad. I am working closely with Federal officials to get those who are Hawai‘i residents home quickly, safely, and with all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. If you need assistance in this regard, please call my Hawai‘i office at (808) 541-1986 and leave a message or email me at TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov. In the meantime, please visit the State Department website and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to assist in moving the process forward. We are regularly checking messages and will follow up with you. If you are unable to leave a message due to the large volume of calls we are fielding, please try back again as we want to be sure to connect with you.
Many people are being put on leave without pay, being laid off, or simply can’t find work. I was the first Member of Congress to introduce legislation, H.Res.897, that would provide a direct, cash benefit to everyday Americans who are being hit hardest because of the pandemic. In the days following, several Members of Congress in the House and Senate as well as the White House expressed support for this. Some form of direct aid will be included in the final package of assistance Congress is working to pass this week. 
Congress has passed two emergency relief funding bills — both of which I supported. The first provided $8.3 billion of additional funding to several Federal departments and agencies as well as reimbursements to the states for costs they had incurred fighting the first cases of the outbreak. The second focused on providing emergency relief to families and workers across America by helping to make sure testing is accessible and free for all, as well as funding paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, food for seniors and more.

COVID-19 Hawai‘i News

The federal income tax filing date has been postponed. The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date is automatically extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. Read more at IRS.gov ...
Learn more about IRS actions during the pandemic: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
The state’s Department of Health reminds the public to be judicious when shopping for food and essential goods so that kūpuna and others in need are able to purchase necessary items. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Harbors Division continues to manage Hawai‘i’s commercial ports–the lifeline for Hawai‘i communities for food, medical supplies, clothing, household goods and more. There have been no interruptions to the supply chain as a result of COVID-19.
Testing in Hawai‘i. As of March 22nd, more than 2,700 tests have been performed for people in Hawai‘i by private clinical labs. The DOH State Laboratories Division has tested 48 Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and 263 sentinel surveillance samples. The 263 sentinel surveillance tests have all been negative. These are representative samples taken from every county from people with flu-like symptoms who tested negative for influenza.
Drive-Through, Pop-Up COVID-19 Testing Coming To Kona on Mon., Mar. 23The County of Hawai‘i COVID-19 Task Force has teamed up with Premier Medical Group and HOPE Services, with the support of The Ironman World Championship and Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation, to offer a pop-up testing clinic for COVID-19 at the Old Kona Airport Park today — Monday, March 23 from 8:00am to 3:00pm.
Honolulu Mayor Caldwell Issues Stay-at-Home Order Over the weekend, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced a stay-at-home order for O‘ahu that is effective starting today, Monday, March 23. Only employees who deliver essential services — from health care to banking to groceries, gas, and car repair — should be leaving the house every day to report to work.
Stay-at-Home Order Also in Effect on MauiMayor Michael Victorino announced a number of Public Health Emergency Rules effective as of 7:45 a.m. Friday, March 20, 2020, directed toward limiting the gathering of groups of people and curtailing vehicular transportation except for essential activities or operation of essential business or government functions, such as travel to and from work and medical appointments. Mayor Victorino issued a stay-at-home order for Maui that will be effective starting 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020. 
Kaua‘i County issues new public health emergency rule (#3) on Sat., Mar. 21in accordance with social distancing directives, the county is directing the closure of all bars/clubs, theaters, entertainment centers, and visitor attractions as well as food service establishments — unless that establishment offers drive through or pick up or delivery service only. The County is offering regular updates online through Facebook videos (no Facebook account required).
Hawaiian Electric announced on March 17, 2020 that it will suspend service disconnections for 30 days so customers who are financially challenged by the coronavirus pandemic don't have to worry about losing electric service. Read more at HawaiianElectric.com …

COVID-19 Response Information and Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — The CDC website has information on the latest recommended measures and actions taken to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hawai‘i Website on COVID-19The State of Hawai‘i has set up this website to provide regular updates on issues related to COVID-19 responses, from public health to economic issues as well as information about state resources available to residents.
Hawai‘i Department of Health — The HI DOH Disease Outbreak and Control division has information for public health officials, families, and businesses as well as responses to frequently asked questions.
Hawai‘i Department of Transportation — The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation website includes information related to travel precautions, restrictions and efforts to contain the spread of the virus, including the latest on travel advisories issued by the Federal Government and the HI Governor’s office.
Hawai‘i Department of Health’s / United Way Statewide HotlineLearn more about 211 which is organized in partnership with the United Way.
Hawaii County Websites — Keep updated on what is going on locally through the county websites where you can read the latest news and statements by county officials as well as get contact information for county resources:
U.S. Small Business Administration & the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism — In response to the pressure this crisis has put on small businesses across the country, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering disaster relief loans. The SBA today approved a certification request submitted by Gov. David Ige, clearing the way for Hawai‘i small businesses to participate in the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance Program. The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll and other bills that can’t be paid because of a disaster’s impact. You can visit their websites for more information about these and other programs for eligible businesses.

Traveling or Know Someone Who Is? See the Latest U.S. State Department Travel Advisories — The State Department advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel at this time due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.

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