03/30/2020: COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

March 30, 2020
 
Aloha,
 
As we continue to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, here are a few updates.
 
Last week, I hosted my second telephone town hall meeting. I was joined by Lt. Governor Josh Green, Hilton Raethel from the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i, and Jane Sawyer from the Small Business Administration — here is a link if you’d like to listen to it.
 
Join me for further updates on my next telephone town hall meeting this Wednesday, April 1 at 4:00 p.m. HT. You can directly join by calling (888) 476-4187 at that time. On this call, I’ll be providing details on the third emergency funding bill that just passed Congress on Friday.
 
I and my team remain hard at work and available should you have any questions or if you are in need of assistance. Please call me at (808) 541-1986 or email me at TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov. And, you can visit my COVID-19 resources webpage which continues to be updated with new information that may be of help to you.
 
Mahalo and best wishes,
 
Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress (HI-02)
 

Telephone Town Hall This Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. HT 

 
I am looking forward to connecting with all of you again, this Wednesday, April 1 at 4:00pm HT, to discuss the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and Congress’ response — including the most recent emergency funding bill that we passed on Friday. I will cover what was included, how it impacts you, and where I believe we can do better as Congress considers what more must be done with upcoming legislation.
 
Telephone Town Hall | COVID-19 Update # 3
Wednesday, April 1 at 4:00 p.m. Hawai‘i Time
Directly join by calling (888) 476-4187 at that time
 

UPDATE: Federal Government Extends Stay-at-Home Recommendation

 
Heeding the advice of public health officials within his administration, President Trump announced over the weekend that he is recommending that stay-at-home precautions be extended until the end of April 30.
 
I remain a strong advocate for this approach which comes based on the science-based recommendation of public health experts with decades of experience in fighting epidemics.
 
You can visit my COVID-19 resources webpage to get connected with Hawai‘i and Federal Government public health departments and agencies to learn more about how to help prevent the spread of the virus.
 

Congress Passes 3rd Emergency Bill, Begins Work on 4th Bill

 
On Friday, Congress passed its third emergency funding bill in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It includes direct cash payments to Americans, assistance for those who are out of work due to the outbreak, funding for small businesses, hospitals, and health care workers, and state and local governments, including at least $1.2 billion for Hawai‘i.
 
  • It helps individuals by providing:
    • Direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult, as well as $500 for each child — which, according to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, should be available within the next three weeks
    • Extending unemployment insurance to four months, bolstered by $600 weekly, and expanding eligibility to cover more workers such as gig economy workers, freelancers, and furloughed workers
  • It helps small businesses by providing:
    • Over $350 billion in financial aid via guaranteed loans to small businesses, including to some independent contractors and self-employed individuals.
    • $10 billion to expand the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program
    • Deferring some employer’s payroll taxes through the end of 2020
 
 
My COVID-19 response webpage includes links to the range of resources made available to help small business owners cope with this crisis.
 

UPDATE: An Important Note on Military and Veteran Healthcare

 
The Defense Department has announced that, as of March 31, all military treatment facilities and dental treatment facilities will postpone elective surgeries and procedures for 60 days. The policy applies to all beneficiaries: active-duty service members and their families, retirees, and Reserve and National Guard service members on active duty or a delayed effective date active-duty order.
 
Exceptions to the policy will be made for procedures a service member needs in order to be ready to deploy, as well as procedures a provider has determined cannot be delayed without causing harm. For these cases, the hospital or dental facility commander will determine if there is adequate capacity to safely authorize the procedure.
 

Medicaid Funding Expansion in Response to the Pandemic

 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved its 34th state Medicaid waiver request under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act.  Granting these waivers is made possible by the President’s national emergency declaration to ensure that CMS is providing state partners with the maximum flexibility needed to care for Medicaid beneficiaries during the coronavirus public health emergency.
 

Remember This if You Become Sick

 
The Hawai‘i Department of Health asks everyone to remember and take these precautions if you are sick, including this handy, printable checklist!
 
  1. Stay Home
  2. Monitor Your Symptoms
  3. Isolate Yourself From Others In Your Household
  4. Get Lots of Rest and Stay Hydrated
  5. Avoid Spreading Your Germs
 

Assisting U.S. Citizens and Permanent Legal Residents Abroad

 
The COVID-19 coronavirus global pandemic has left stranded many Americans abroad. 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.
 

COVID-19 Hawai‘i News

 
Testing in Hawai‘i — To date, there are 204 individuals in Hawai‘i who have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes some of the sharpest, daily increases in cases over the past few days.
 
We need more tests to be conducted in a more widespread manner to get a more accurate picture of what infections look like in our community. Having this information is crucial in helping prevent the spread of the virus and making sure our residents understand the importance of the public health measures being implemented to help stop the virus in its tracks.
 
HI State Insurance Commissioner Warns of Hardship — On March 27, State Insurance Commissioner Colin Hayashida sent a memo to all admitted and non-admitted insurers offering policies in Hawai‘i. He noted that businesses are experiencing substantially reduced revenue and employees are experiencing reduced hours or job losses, with far-reaching repercussions on the horizon. Hayashida is asking insurers not to cancel or not renew policies for failure to pay premiums during this time of hardship.
 
Maui HELP Program for Residents Impacted by COVID-19 — This past Friday, Mayor Michael Victorino signed a relief bill to launch a $2 million program to assist residents who’ve been severely impacted with job losses from the pandemic. The County will be working with Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. to implement the program, and provide more details and information to the public.
 
Kaua‘i’s Dr. Berreman Talks About the Importance of Adhering to Public Health Measures — In the county’s latest video update, Dr. Janet Berreman, the district’s public health officer, reminded residents that the effects of the stay-at-home precautions will only be seen if the measures are strictly followed. She noted that due to the incubation period of the virus, the increased cases currently being reported are attributed to infections before these precautions were put in place — so stick to the plan and stay at home!
 

And remember...

 
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.
 
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 …
 

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