11/18/2020: COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

COVID-19 Coronavirus Response Update

November 18, 2020
I am back in Washington, D.C. for votes. Yesterday, the House passed my Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act to require states to keep their Emergency Alert System Plans tested and up to date, and it requires the FCC to create best practices for state and local governments.
The January 2018 false missile alert crisis we endured in Hawai‘i revealed deep vulnerabilities within our warning system infrastructure. Given our location as a state and the threats we are exposed to, our warning system must be current, functional, and able to communicate accurate information to people across all available platforms. 
I’m continuing to push for much needed COVID-19 relief as cases are rapidly on the rise. Please continue to do your part to stop the spread of this disease: wash your hands, maintain social distance, and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
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 and Tracing in Hawaiʻi — The Department of Health reports that there are 16,731 individuals in Hawaiʻi who have tested positive for COVID-19, to date. There were 526 new infections in the last week (75 new infections/day in the past week). 
There have been 223 COVID-19 related deaths. In the last week there was 1 new death (0.14 deaths/day in the past week).
Since the beginning of the pandemic, of those infections, 1,221 required hospitalization.
The percent positive as reported for the last 7 days is 2.0%. COVID Act Now reports that Hawaiʻi’s infection rate today is 0.96. An average of 4,456 diagnostic tests/day have been performed in the past week.
The latest DOH reported number of active tracers is 420. This is reported for the week of Nov. 9-Nov. 15.
George Washington University reports that, given the number of infections and the rate of infection in Hawaiʻi today, the state should have 567 active tracers. The GWU contact tracing tool can be found in the CDC’s guidance on contact tracing.
The Department of Health is no longer reporting the number of cases that have been released from isolation or the number of active cases in the state.
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.
VA Honolulu Office to Host Virtual Benefits Workshop — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Honolulu Regional Office announced that it will host a virtual benefits workshop for veterans, family members, surviving spouses, and community providers on Tuesday, December 8 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. HST. The workshop will cover compensation, pension, education & training, DIC, survivor benefits, loan guaranty, veteran readiness & employment, burial & plot interment allowance, burial flags, and insurance.
For information about how to join the event, you can visit the regional office’s VA webpage and view the event flier as well as the slideshow for the event.
Complimentary E-Commerce and Digital Marketing Support for Hawai‘i Businesses — Hawai‘i’s businesses are invited to apply for e-commerce and digital marketing support offered under technical assistance for businesses funded by the Hawai‘i Business Pivot Grant program. The program matches companies with specialized consultants who help improve the company’s digital presence and expand their market during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of application, companies applying for assistance must be registered with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA). If successful, the company will be matched with a partner vendor who will provide 3 hours of complimentary consulting to answer questions or assist with e-commerce and digital marketing. This application process is separate from the application for the Pivot Grant. The Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) will be accepting applications on a first-come-first-serve basis and opportunities are limited so businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. For more information and to apply, visit HTDC’s website at https://www.htdc.org/pivot-grant-ecommerce
HUD Announces Over $80 Million, $746,100 for Hawaiʻi, In Targeted Funding For Coronavirus Relief — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today made $86.85 million available to public housing agencies (PHAs) in the form of Mainstream funding vouchers to assist non-elderly populations impacted by Coronavirus. Mainstream Vouchers are administered using the same rules as other housing choice vouchers but targeted to serve a special population to ensure residents of low income housing, including those with unique circumstances, receive necessary funding to protect their health and safety against COVID-19. Authorized by the CARES Act, HUD is making a total of $150 million in Mainstream funding available for PHAs from FY20 and previous year appropriations. As part of this funding distribution, the County of Hawai‘i will be receiving $746,100.
CARES Act Funding for Telehealth and Broadband Service on Hawaiʻi Island — HOPE Services Hawaiʻi, a non-profit organization based in Hilo, was awarded CARES Act funding for telehealth and broadband access to service the homeless community on Hawai‘i island. These COVID-19 preventative efforts are a continuation of improving care to reduce the severity of health issues and overall health services costs. The project will facilitate immediate access to primary and specialty care via telehealth and mobile wi-fi hotspots for the homeless population currently living on the streets and in shelters. This service resulted from a collaboration of many community stakeholders focused on digital equity and the digital divide highlighted by COVID-19. Read the full news release here.
VA, America Salutes You Partner To Bring Attention To Suicide Prevention Resources — As part of its ongoing effort to prevent Veteran suicide, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today a new partnership with non-profit organization America Salutes You, to raise awareness of mental health resources for service members, Veterans and their loved ones. The partnership will promote VA’s Be There campaign and share suicide prevention resources through videos, public service announcements and broadcast events streaming online and airing on television networks across the country. Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, can call VCL for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
Kauaʻi Launches Surge Testing Program — Mayor Kawakami noted that the most recent, free COVID-19 surge testing program event was held this past Sunday. 413 individuals were tested with results being returned in 3-5 days. The next event is scheduled for this coming Sunday, November 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hanapēpē Stadium.
Participants are asked to register in advance at kauai.gov/test to reduce wait times. These tests are NOT part of the state’s pre-travel testing program and may NOT be used for quarantine exemptions.
For post-travel tests, visit kauai.gov/covid-19 and click on the post-travel testing button for more information about details. You MUST participate in the state’s pre-travel testing program in order to participate in this post-travel testing program. The ideal time to take a post-travel test is 5-7 days but may be taken no sooner than 3 days after arrival.
Mayor Victorino Announces Drive-through Food Distribution Set for Nov. 20, for Molokai residents — Mayor Michael Victorino announced that a food distribution event will be held on November 20, 2020, for Molokai residents in need. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Mitchell Pauole Community Center in Kaunakakai. Volunteers will pass out 150 boxes of produce on a first-come, first-served basis. Recipients are required to wear face masks. To maximize social distancing, food distribution will be done in a grab-and-go drive-through (no walk up). Motorists will have the option of getting boxes placed in their vehicle’s trunk or rear cargo area.

County of Maui Thanksgiving Giveaway Set For Nov. 19-20 — Recipients of the Hawaii Emergency Laulima Partnership (HELP) program should have received vouchers in the mail for the County of Maui’s Thanksgiving giveaway. The County, in partnership with Maui Economic Opportunity, will provide Thanksgiving boxes containing a frozen turkey and fixings on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 19-20, to recipients of assistance from the HELP program. Recipients are asked to pick up their boxes at the time, date and location provided on the voucher. The Thanksgiving boxes are not a distribution for the general public. Pick-up locations are set for Upcountry, West Maui, South Maui and Central Maui locations. Recipients are asked to write their names and addresses on their voucher and display the voucher on the dashboard of their vehicles. Learn more here.

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