05/28/2020: COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

May 28, 2020
Today, I voted for H.R.7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which would provide additional flexibility for small businesses to use PPP funds to make qualifying expenditures for loan forgiveness.
As of last week, the Small Business Administration approved PPP loans to 4,426,118 businesses across America totaling $511,231,948,095. In Hawai‘i, that translated to 23,312 businesses being approved for a total of $2,473,118,450 in loan support.
Read on for more details about how this bill will help make the PPP better. Since it passed the House today, it will now go to the Senate for consideration next week.
If you are in need of assistance, please don’t hesitate to call me at (808) 541-1986 or email me at TulsiOffice@mail.house.gov.
Mahalo and be well,
Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress (HI-02)

Next Telephone Town Hall Update

In yesterday’s town hall, I was joined by unemployment attorney Darin Leong and Healthcare Alliance of Hawai‘i President and CEO, Hilton Raethel. Together we discussed our public health response, precautionary measures, and relief programs available to those in need of economic assistance. If you were not able to join us for the call, you can listen to the complete event on my website.
I will be hosting my next tele-town hall on Wednesday. You can listen to my recent COVID-19 update tele-town halls or sign up for upcoming tele-town hall meetings by visiting my website today!
Telephone Town Hall | COVID-19 Update # 12
Wednesday, June 3 at 4:00 p.m. Hawai‘i Time

House Passes Bill to Improve PPP. Here are the major changes.

Today, the House passed H.R.7010, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act. This bill would improve the Paycheck Protection Program by:
  • Extending the PPP loan forgiveness period to include costs incurred over 24 weeks after a loan is issued or through Dec. 31, whichever comes first. Businesses that received a loan before the measure is enacted could keep the current eight-week period.
  • Extending to Dec. 31 from June 30 a period in which loans can be forgiven if businesses restore staffing or salary levels that were previously reduced. The provision would apply to worker and wage reductions made from Feb. 15 through 30 days after enactment of the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27.
  • Maintaining forgiveness amounts for companies that were unable to rehire employees or resume business levels as of Feb. 15, or find similarly qualified workers by the end of the year.
  • Extending the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to Dec. 31 from June 30.
  • Baring the SBA from limiting loan forgiveness for expenses other than payroll.
  • Repealing a provision from the CARES Act that barred companies with forgiven PPP loans from deferring their payroll tax payments.
  • Establishing a minimum loan maturity period of five years following an application for loan forgiveness, instead of the current two-year deadline set by the SBA.
  • Increasing the current limitation on non-payroll expenses (such as rent, utilities, mortgage interest) for loan forgiveness from 25 to 40%
  • Removing Retroactivity on the increase of maturity period from 2 to 5 years
  • Clarifying Safe Harbors Language that employers provide documentation when unable to rehire employees, and to clarify an “inability to return to the same level of business activity,” refers explicitly to compliance with HHS, CDC, OSHA standards on social distancing or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID-19.
  • Extending payment deferral on principal and interest so that a borrower does not have to make a payment until forgiveness determination is granted by the SBA.

VA Resuming In-Person Compensation and Pension Exams, Investigating COVID-19 Impact on Veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it will resume in-person Compensation and Pension (C&P) exams in concert with the reopening of VA lead medical centers in select locations across the country. VA Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) contracted medical examination providers will immediately begin contacting Veterans in select locations with claims pending C&P exams to schedule exam appointments.
The VA also began a national four-year study on the impact of COVID-19 on Veterans to help address critical questions about the disease. Known as EPIC3 (Epidemiology, Immunology and Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19), researchers will study data and biospecimens, such as throat swabs and blood, to learn how the virus that causes COVID-19 has affected Veterans.

COVID-19 Hawai‘i News

Testing in Hawai‘i — Since yesterday, there were a total of 3 new cases and 0 additional COVID-19 related deaths. To date, there are 647 individuals in Hawai‘i who have tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 647 cases, 17 have died, 83 required hospitalization and 604 have been released from isolation. There have been 52,824 diagnostic tests conducted as of today.
USDA Approves Food Program for Hawai‘i — Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Hawai‘i has been approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — the second emergency assistance bill passed by Congress (March 14). Under FFCRA, states have the option to submit a plan to the Secretary of Agriculture for providing these benefits to SNAP and non-SNAP households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures. State agencies may operate Pandemic EBT when a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation during which the school would otherwise be in session.
REMINDER: HIDOE Updates Grab-and-Go Meals Program — The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) Grab-and-Go school meals program will be extended at select meal sites for an extra four days beyond the end of the school year on May 28 and transition to the summer meal program which runs through July 17. Visit the HIDOE website for more information.
Honolulu DEM Urges Residents to Prepare for Hurricane Season, Consider Challenges COVID-19 — The City and County of Honolulu issued a press release reminding residents of the upcoming hurricane season following the annual joint press conference hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Central Pacific Hurricane Center. The Department of Emergency Management noted that, while forecasts predict below-normal tropical cyclone activity this season, residents should continue to prepare. These preparations should include COVID-19 related materials like face coverings and hand sanitizer and being ready for incorporating social distancing measures in case of evacuations to City-designated shelters. Read the full announcement for more details.
Kaua‘i Submits Request to Governor to Approve Additional Reopening Measures — During yesterday’s daily update, Mayor Kawakami shared the latest Mayor’s Emergency Rule (#11) that the County of Kaua‘i has submitted to the Governor for approval. The rule would expand efforts to reopen the county so long as CDC industry guidelines and Department of Health safe practices can be implemented and followed at all times. The rule would cover indoor exercise facilities, outdoor spaces including playgrounds, skate parks, and parks, organized, outdoor team sports, personal services such as spas, and dine-in restaurant service as well as musicians. For more information visit the Kaua‘i County COVID-19 webpage.

Testing Sites and DLIR UI Information

Hawai‘i Island
Check out the County of Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 webpage for which lists over a dozen testing sites which are regularly open (see schedules).
St. Jude Church
Wed., June 3 ONLY, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
92-8606 Paradise Circle, Ocean View 96737
Premier Medical Group (more details)
Fri., May 29 ONLY, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Old Kona Airport Park, Kekuaokalani Gym/KCAC parking lot
Premier Medical Group (more details)
Sat., May 30 ONLY, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Kamakoa Nui Park (entrance is from Kamakoa Drive, at the end of Paniolo Avenue)
Maui County
While no drive-thru testing sites have been announced yet for tomorrow, you can visit the County’s website for other testing sites on Maui, Moloka‘i, and Lānaʻi.
City and County of Honolulu
No testing sites have been announced, but you can check out the City and County of Honolulu’s dedicated COVID-19 information webpage.
Kaua‘i County
Daily @ Wilcox Medical Center 
Monday-Friday @ Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital
Kapa‘a | Details (video update, 5:45 mark)
Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Kaua‘i Medical Clinic
Unemployment Insurance Compensation Claims — Here is a rundown of the new resources that the Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) is making available to assist individuals filing unemployment insurance compensation claims.
As of May 11, 2020, the DLIR is using an alphabetical system for filing unemployment insurance claims to help ease the strain on its system and streamline the process. Those whose last name starts with the letters:
  • A through G should file on Mondays.
  • H through O should file on Tuesdays.
  • P through Z should file on Wednesdays.
If you missed your day, everyone can file on Thursdays through Sunday.
The hours to file are Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. On weekends and holidays, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
General Website
Application for Determination of Insured Status
Unemployment Benefits Claim Status
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Newly Out of Work Unemployment Claim: (808) 762- 5752
If You Have Filed Unemployment Before: (808) 762-5751
Unemployment Office Call Center: (833) 901-2275
O‘ahu Claims Office: ​dlir.ui.oahu@hawaii.gov
Hilo Claims Office: dlir.ui.hilo@hawaii.gov
Kona Claims Office: dlir.ui.kona@hawaii.gov
Maui Claims Office: dlir.ui.maui@hawaii.gov
Kaua‘i Claims Office: dlir.ui.kauai@hawaii.gov
Individuals who would like to have their claim backdated (the backdate will be for their first week of less than full employment due to COVID-19): dlir.ui.backdate@hawaii.gov
Individuals who have received an email, letter or other message (screenshot) that says that they are disqualified from UI:​ ​dlir.ui.disqualified@hawaii.gov
Individuals who would like to request language assistance from UI (the interpretation services would be provided free of charge and via telephone): dlir.ui.languageassistance@hawaii.gov

Office Locations