09/09/2020: COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

September 9, 2020
Yesterday, it was announced that Dr. Jennifer Smith, the brave whistleblower who exposed the dire reality of how few contact tracers were working with the DOH, was forcibly placed on leave and escorted out of the Department of Health building on Friday afternoon, one day after Dr. Sarah Park was placed on leave.  This was a clear retaliatory move, punishing Dr. Smith for telling the people of Hawaii the truth about what was really going on at the Department of Health.  
Retaliating against a whistleblower further erodes the public trust and sends a dangerously chilling message to others in our government that they better toe the line or they will be punished. 
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 yesterday, there were a total of 100 new cases and 3 additional COVID-19 related deaths. There are currently 6,977 active cases in the state.
91 have died
604 required hospitalization
3,120 have been released from isolation
There have been 319,350 diagnostic tests conducted as of today.
As a result of updated information, two cases were removed from the counts.
Tracing in Hawai‘i — The people of Hawai‘i should know how many active tracers there are on a given day, how many we have trained in reserve, what percentage of individuals with new infections have those they exposed completely contacted within 24 hours, and the state’s Infection Rate. This virus moves within a day, we need daily numbers to keep up with it.
  • Number of Active Tracers = DOH only has weekly numbers (211 total for Aug. 31-Sep. 6)
  • Number of Trained Tracers in reserve = DOH only has weekly numbers (535 for Aug. 31-Sep. 6)
  • Percent of New Infections Whose Contacts are Traced within 24 Hours = DOH has not provided this information
  • Infection Rate = No DOH information, COVID Act Now reports 0.91.
George Washington University reports that, given the number of infections and the rate of infection in Hawai‘i today, the state should have 1,345 active tracers. The GWU contact tracing tool can be found in the CDC’s guidance on contact tracing.
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.
O’ahu parks, certain park facilities, and beaches reopening Sept. 10 — City parks, botanical gardens, certain park facilities, and beaches as well as State Parks, beaches and Nā Ala Hele trails will reopen on Thursday, Sept. 10. Individual activities, such as walking, running, fishing, and biking will be allowed, as will continued access to the ocean. Group activities are not allowed. Certain high-tourist O’ahu State Parks that were previously closed, since March, such as Diamond Head and Nu῾uanu Pali remain closed. Please check https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/ for details.
Free Webinar: Strategies For Small Business Owners During And After The Pandemic — The SBA Hawaii District Office is hosting free webinars to help small business owners re-evaluate and review their financial business strength and figure out its viability.  Discover new ways to structure and properly utilize your business finances in COVID-19 times and participate in an interactive discussion on topics such as: how to analyze your options (change, pivot or exit), learn practical ways to create survival income, how to survive (or survive better) during economic crises, and how to determine if you have sufficient cash flow. Register and learn more here
HUD Urges Local Governments to Use Grant Funds to Prevent Evictions — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is reminding all grantees-states, cities, communities, and nonprofits-who received Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) or Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that they may use these funds to provide rental assistance or other aid to individuals experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic and are at risk of being evicted, consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and guidance. HUD provided additional requirements and flexibilities on how state and local governments receiving Emergency Solutions Grants Program under the CARES Act (ESG-CV) may use the funds to help address the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis.
Federal Assistance for Hawai‘i Renters at Risk of Eviction Available — The state announced the launch of a new program that will provide federal assistance for Hawai‘i renters at risk of eviction for non-payment of rent because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Hawai‘i Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program (RRHAP) will assist Hawai‘i residents who are unable to pay their rent because they’re unemployed or have had a reduction in income due to the pandemic. Funded by Federal CARES Act appropriations, the program provides renters at risk of eviction with assistance in making monthly rent as well as financial counseling. Applications are currently being accepted for housing payments due between August 1, 2020 and December 28, 2020.

No Cost PPE Distribution for Qualified Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations — The State of Hawaii COVID-19 PPE Distribution Program is an initiative created by SB126 Act 9 of the 2020 Legislative Session to purchase and distribute at no cost critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Qualified Recipients to assist them in maintaining their critical facilities and businesses during the COVID-19 emergency.  Distribution is tentatively anticipated to occur from mid October – December 2020, supplies permitting. Learn more and register here.

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