08/31/2020: COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

August 31, 2020
I just returned to Hawai‘i last night from my Army training mission in Alaska. It was an incredible experience, but there’s no place like home. 
As many of you know, I’ve been calling for Dr. Bruce Anderson and Dr. Sarah Park to be removed from their positions due to their failure to protect the people of Hawai‘i during this COVID-19 crisis. Today, it was announced that Dr. Bruce Anderson, the Director of Hawai‘i’s Department of Health, will be retiring.
This is an important step, but now the real change needs to happen. The Governor and the Department of Health need to implement real changes — our state’s contact tracing efforts are still woefully inadequate. While it’s good the Federal government has sent testing capabilities to our state to deal with the surge, we need to improve our ability to test, diagnose, trace, and contain this virus for the long term. The people of Hawai‘i deserve transparency from our state government to begin to regain public trust in our state’s testing and tracing operations.
Unfortunately, we are continuing to see exponential growth of infections and our intensive care units are near capacity. Hawai‘i is ranked among the worst states in these categories and we are all left to cope with the consequences.
If you are in need of assistance, please 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)

COVID-19 News & Resources

Testing in Hawai‘i — Since Friday, there were a total of 642 new cases and 11 additional COVID-19 related deaths. There are currently 5,869 active cases in the state.
70 have died
508 required hospitalization
2,578 have been released from isolation
There have been 263,187 diagnostic tests conducted as of today.
Looking for federal and state COVID-19 resources — including directions on dealing with UI and PUA, local food banks, testing sites, and economic recovery programs for small businesses? Visit gabbard.house.gov/COVID-19.
Next Telephone Town Hall this Wednesday — I will be hosting my next telephone town hall this Wednesday, September 2 at 4:00 p.m. HST. I will be joined by Dr. Scott Miscovich and Dr. F. DeWolfe Miller to talk about how Hawai‘i can get back on track to rein in the spread of the coronavirus.
Visit my website today to be added to my upcoming telephone town hall events.
Get a FREE COVID-19 Test Today You can visit doineedacovid19test.com to learn more about getting a free COVID-19 test. No doctor referral is needed. The surge tests are being provided to participants through the U.S. government’s Coronavirus Task Force which visited Hawai‘i last week due to the surging number of new COVID-19 infections over the past two months.
FEMA Grant to Help with Lost Wages — FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved the State of Hawai‘i for a FEMA grant of $193,933,095, under the agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.  FEMA’s grant funding will allow Hawai‘i to provide those unemployed due to COVID-19 $300 per week on top of their regular unemployment benefit. FEMA will work with Governor Ige as he implements state systems to make this funding available to the residents of the state. You can learn more about the program by visiting FEMA’s website.
Big Island Vehicle Registration & Licensing by Appointment Only Starting Tomorrow — Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases on Hawai‘i Island and in an effort to maintain shorter lines and discourage gatherings of more than 10 people, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Finance is announcing that, beginning September 1, 2020, the Vehicle Registration and Licensing office will only service customers by appointment. To offset the loss of walk-in service, additional appointments will be offered at each location. Face coverings must be worn, and customers must adhere to the recommended 6-foot social distancing at all times. Only those customers receiving services will be allowed inside the lobby, and minors or those needing additional assistance may have one additional person accompany them, if needed. You can make an appointment online by visiting https://vehicleregistrationlicensing.as.me/schedule.php.
Travelers to Hawai‘i Must Complete Safe Travels Form — Starting tomorrow, individuals traveling to Hawai‘i must complete the Safe Travels Form. It is the newest mandatory requirement for travelers flying into the state and will help maintain the public safety and health of Hawai‘i residents. Those without email addresses will need to create one to comply with quarantine requirements. You can check out the form online on the  department’s website at travel.hawaii.gov for more information, including an explanatory video.
VA Deploys AI to Connect Veterans to Counselors Quicker — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new artificial intelligence platform designed to enhance customer service and provide timely responses to Veterans. The electronic Virtual Assistant (e-VA) allows Veterans to receive a timely response to basic questions, automated alerts, follow-up messages, appointment reminders and the ability to schedule and reschedule appointments. Learn more about the program on the VA’s website.
Native American Tribes Get COVID-19 Assistance from HUD — Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a total of $100 million to Tribes across the Nation as part of HUD’s Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat program (ICDBG-CARES). This funding helps address problems that pose an imminent threat to public health or safety of Tribal residents and will be used to help Tribes prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.

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