5/15 Fri. COVID-19 Daily Update

Click here for important resource about healthcare options

 

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.5M (+100k).  Deaths: 307k(+5k).

USA: Cases: 1.44M (+30k).  Deaths: 87.5k (+1.7k).  Total Tested: 10.7M (+400k).
Hawaii: Cases:  638 (+1).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+0). Recovered: 5645(+1).

 

Governor says he’ll extend ’safer-at-home’ order through June (Hawaii News Now, May 15. 2020)

Ige and Caldwell both will extend the stay at home order through June 30th.  But some lifting of restrictions will take place too.  “medium risk” activities like dine-in restaurant service and barbershops may open before June 30th.  Some malls will open on Friday as well as outdoor sports fields and courts to reopen for one-on-on activities, like tennis or yoga, as long as 6 feet of physical distance is maintained, also, drive-in religious, spiritual or entertainment activities are now permitted as long as attendees stay in their cars.

Hawaii to tap ‘Pandemic EBT’ program for an extra $25M in food aid (Star Advertiser, May 15 ,2020)

State officials plan to start a new program next month that will allow all families with children who receive free lunches at public schools to also get help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. Another roughly 20,000 households whose children receive subsidized school meals but do not now receive SNAP benefits also will be eligible for up to $10.7 million in benefits, Bhanot said. The SNAP application is here .

Honolulu officials look at allowing restaurants to reopen June 5 (Star Advertiser, May 14 2020)

Honolulu is looking for state approval to begin opening up restaurants for dine in service by June 5th.  The city is looking to open up beaches as well.

Oahu Malls and Retailers to reopen Friday (KHON, May 15 2020)

Major malls and retailers who decide to open can do so starting Friday May 15th.

Nearly 40% of low-income workers lost their jobs in March (KITV, May 15, 2020)

Nationwide, 40% of households with less than $40,000 of income reported a job loss in March.  In contrast 19% of households making $40k-$100k, and 13% making 100k or more saw job loss.

Antibody Testing For COVID-19 Now Available On Oahu (Civil Beat, May 15, 2020)

Dr. Miscovitch’s Premier Medical Group Hawaii is offering blood tests for anti-bodies to determine if you had COVID in the past.  The test is $40 unless a patient’s insurance covers it.  The bloods tests will be offered alongside the infection nose swab tests.  Testing at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex will be offered on Saturday, May 16. Testing at Kakaako Waterfront Park will be offered on Sunday, May 17. Testing at both locations will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The HEROES Act: Policy Overview and Political Prospects for the Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill (National Law Review, May 14, 2020)

There are a lot of components to the HEROES Act that was passed by the US House today, the US Senate will not pass it in its current form. However, one thing to note of the House version is that it will allow ALL non-profit types, of all sizes, to be eligible for PPP loans.

Thu. 5/14: Daily COVID-19 Update

NEW RESOURCES: FOOD DISTRIBUTION, SNAP, MED-QUEST, AND CHILDCARE ASSISTANCE

Food for Hawaii’s Ohana is organizing another food distribution event tomorrow (Fri. 5/15/20) at 10:00am at Aloha Stadium.

On our Local 5 Resources page, we added flyers from the State Department of Human Services with information on how to apply for food assistance (SNAP), Med-QUEST health insurance, and childcare assistance:

  • Oahu (PDF)
  • Maui (PDF)
  • Kauai (PDF)
  • Hawaii Island (PDF)

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

What the Boss of the Most Devastated Union in Travel Has to Say About the Future – Skift. 

Good interview of our international union President D. Taylor about protecting workers.

36 million have sought U.S. unemployment aid since coronavirus hit – Associated Press. 

The national unemployment rate for April was officially 14.7%, but some economists estimate an actual unemployment rate closer to 24%, if it counted workers who were employed but listed as absent from work, or discouraged workers.

Trump’s “Reopening” Is a Red Herring: We should not concede the language of “reopening” to right-wing liars who are sending poor people to their death. – In These Times. 

Excerpt: “There is a consensus among experts that the United States doesn’t have the measures in place to reopen without causing mass death.”

Excerpt: “Corporate media is also uncritically repeating the line that radical anti-science Republican governors are pushing a “reopening” when they’re simply delaying another inevitable shutdown.”

Hawaii’s economy is reopening, but tourism remains on lockdown – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Former Starwood executive Keith Vieira is pushing the irresponsible path toward a quick reopening. Remember this next time you see his name quoted in the news as a hospitality industry consultant.

New Poll: Americans See Big Power Imbalance in the Workplace – Steven Greenhouse, On Labor. 

Excerpt: “Sixty percent of respondents said unions are good or excellent for the country, including nearly eight in ten Democrats and over half of all Republicans. According to the survey, 55 percent of non-union workers said they would definitely or probably vote to join a union if an election were held today. About one fourth said they would probably or definitely vote against the union, while 21 percent responded that they were unsure. Over 60 percent of Democrats said they would definitely or probably vote for a union, while half of Republicans did.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.4M (+100k).  Deaths: 302k(+5k).
USA: Cases: 1.41M (+20k).  Deaths: 85.8k (+1.7k).  Total Tested: 10.3M (+400k).
Hawaii: Cases:  637* (+0).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+0). Recovered: 564 (+1).

Wed. 5/13 Daily COVID-19 Update

WATCH: FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL – COVID-19 & THE BAILOUT OF CORPORATIONS

We hosted a Facebook Live Town Hall today on the government’s response to COVID-19, how it’s been benefiting corporations and the rich, and what working people need to do to push back. You can watch the recording here in case you missed it.

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Majority of hotels agree to “one time use” key system for quarantined visitors in Hawaii (KITV May 13 2020)

90% of the 89 hotels still open agree to give quarantined visitors a one-time use key in order to help enforce the quarantine rules.

Kaua’i County beaches to reopen Friday under specific guidelines (KITV, May 13, 2020)

2 week pilot program begins on Friday.  The main aspect of the rules allows parties of 10 or less on the each if they are in the same household.

Hawaii vacation rentals use loopholes to skirt quarantine (Star Advertiser, May 13, 2020)

At least 14% of visitors arriving during lockdown admitted they were using vacation rental units. This article talks about how vacation rentals and the difficulty of enforcing the laws governing their use are problem, especially since all vacation rental units are considered non-essential and shouldn’t be operating at all right now.

Congressman Calls For Testing Hawaii-Bound Travelers (Civil Beat, May 13, 2020)

Ed Case wants the FAA to change rules to allow testing of visitors and crews before boarding an airplane to Hawaii.  It calls for fever testing and “as available”, rapid on-site COVID testing.  The costs would be borne by airlines according to his letter to the FAA.

Trimmed Budget Ready For Final Senate Vote (Civil Beat, May 13, 2020)

The legislature seems set to cut a $1 billion hole in the state budget. The bulk of the revised budget cuts comes from leaving vacant positions open, excluding nearly half a billion in Gov. Ige’s supplemental budget request, and tapping into rainy day funds and federal funding. Worker furloughs or pay cuts are not proposed. See article for links to the bill language.

Pandemic Forces Honolulu Council To Slash Budget (Civil Beat, May 13, 2020)

The city cut $130 million from its proposed $3 billion budget. The bulk of the cuts are from TheBus and HandiVan, vacant positions and rail’s HART operating budget. Honolulu will get about $387 million in funds from the CARES Act to help offset costs, of which $100 million are dedicated to help small businesses and another 30% to first responders.

Culinary Union planning ‘transparency’ car caravan on Las Vegas Strip tomorrow (Las Vegas Sun, May 13, 2020)

Local 226, a UNITE HERE local in Las Vegas, holds a car caravan rally to demand public release of Las Vegas hotels’ reopening plan and also demands more safety measures to protect workers who go back to work.

MGM Resorts released a 19-page, 7-point plan that you can view here. It provides details on major issues like: screening, PPE, distancing, sanitation, HVAC control and incidence control.

Paul Manafort Just Got Out of Prison Years Early Because of Coronavirus (Vice, May 13, 2020)

Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager who was convicted of bank fraud and plead guilty to defrauding the US and witness tampering. He is now under house arrest.

Employers can let workers change health plans without waiting (Pacific Business news, May 13, 2020)

The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday made it easier for employers to allow workers to make adjustments to their health insurance plans and flexible spending accounts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Employers can let their workers drop out of their health insurance if they have another option, or sign up if they failed to earlier in the year.

Workers could also be allowed to add more family members to their plan or switch from one workplace plan to another.

The change doesn’t require employers to offer these options; they must opt in if they want to give their employees the added flexibility. The changes could make it easier for workers who are furloughed to drop benefits temporarily and resume them when they return to work. They may also be attractive to workers who decided against buying health insurance earlier in the year but feel different now that they are worried about their risk of catching the coronavirus.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.3M (+100k).  Deaths: 297k(+6k).
USA: Cases: 1.39M (+20k).  Deaths: 84.1k (+1.8k).  Total Tested: 9.9M (+300k).
Hawaii: Cases:  638 (+3).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+0). Recovered: 563 (+0).

Tue. 5/12 Daily COVID-19Update

TOMORROW: FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL – COVID-19 & THE BAILOUT OF CORPORATIONS

We are hosting another Facebook Live Town Hall tomorrow (Wed. 5/13) at 5:00pm. The topic will be COVID-19 and the bailout of corporations, all while working people are being left out in the lurch. Amid the pandemic, U.S. billionaires’ grew nearly 10% while over 20 million people filed for unemployment. In Hawaii, unemployment hit 34%.

Congress continues to deliberate over relief packages that bailout corporations but provide minimal relief for working people. Our Hawaii State Legislature is back in session to determine the state budget, and we are urging them to prioritize Hawaii’s working people.

Join our Facebook Live Town Hall tomorrow (Wed. 5/13) at 5:00pm by going to our Facebook page: http://facebook.com/uniteherehawaii/live

2020 AFL-CIO Hawaii Scholarship Recipient

Jamie Butin, daughter of Local 5 member Janice Butin from Royal Hawaiian Hotel, wrote an essay about Unions. Her piece was chosen as one of the winners for the AFL-CIO 2020 Scholarship. Click here to watch her interview video.

Click here to read her full essay.

 

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

House Democrats unveil new $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill (CNBC, May 12, 2020)

  • Nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments
  • A second round of direct payments of $1,200 per person, and up to $6,000 for a household
  • About $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers
  • $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing
  • An extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January
  • $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance
  • Subsidies and a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period to people who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage
  • More money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including a 15% increase in the maximum benefit
  • Measures designed to buoy small businesses and help them keep employees on payroll
  • Money for election safety during the pandemic and provisions to make voting by mail easier
  • Relief for the U.S. Postal Service

Long Beach hotel workers call for extended health insurance during coronavirus pandemic (Press Telegram, May 12, 2020)

Local 11 workers protested in a car caravan for extended health coverage, mainly against some Long Beach Hyatt hotels that still haven’t agreed to expanded coverage yet.

Applications for Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund now open (Pacific Business News, May 12, 2020

Restaurant and bar workers can apply here for a $250 food card on first come first served basis in a Food and Wine festival charity program, it currently has $100k in funds and hopes to raise $250K for the program.

With cases on the low, Hawaii retailers are outlining their plans to reopen (Hawaii News Now)

Malls on Oahu will reopen on Friday with food courts remaining closed and restaurants still take out only. Typical protocols like mask wearing will be required. Ala Moana, Pearlridge, International Marketplace and Royal Hawaiian Center will have various hours and retail outlets open.

Monday brought hundreds of visitors to Hawaii, some to stay in illegal vacation rentals (Star Advertiser, May 12, 2020)

Nearly three hundred visitors arrived on Monday. Rental car companies are banned from renting to people under 14-day quarantine. 4% of arrivals are staying in vacation rentals, which are considered non-essential businesses.

Report: 70% of Hawaii hotels that are open agree to issue single-use keys (Hawaii News Now, May 12, 2020)

There are 91 hotels open statewide and 63 of them so far have agreed to issue quarantined visitors a one-time use key upon check-in, the theory being they will be caught by the front desk if they leave the room and cannot re-enter.

Employers rush to adopt virus screening. The tools may not help much. (Pacific Business News, May 12, 2020)

The article touches on tech like temperature cameras and app-based tracking and contact tracing that allow businesses to react to COVID. But it raises the concern about how technology is encroaching into the workplace and creating a new norm for Orwellian surveillance, and concerns about how health information may be used to discriminate against workers and how the technology is generally just not effective at dealing with COVID control.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.2M (+100k).  Deaths: 291k(+5k).
USA: Cases: 1.37M (+30k).  Deaths: 82.3k (+2k).  Total Tested: 9.6M (+220k).
Hawaii: Cases:  635 (+1).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+0). Recovered: 563 (+2).

Mon. 5/11 Daily COVID-19 Update

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

State Lawmakers reach tentative agreement on CARES Act spending bill (Hawaii News Now, May 11, 2020)

Hawaii lawmakers acted to distribute 862M in CARES Act money to the neighbor islands.  The bill gives $180 million dollars for the neighbor islands for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, and to pay for services such as police and firefighters. Another $100 million goes to the Hawaii Department of Defense while the largest amount ― about $550 million ― will go into the rainy day fund. Honolulu already got $250 million directly from the feds.

Lack of clear plan to replace tourism leaves Hawaii’s economic future in doubt (Star Advertiser, May 11, 2020)

The most important point being made in these conversations about diversifying and altering Hawaii’s tourism economy is that studies have shown Hawaii is not getting the same amount of returns on tourism as it used to. Adjusted for inflation, it took 10.4 million visitors in 2019 to reach $17.75 billion in spending, which was lower than the $18.3 billion (2019 dollars) that 6.5 million visitors brought to Hawaii in 1989. Perhaps setting the minimum wage at living wage levels would help limit tourist numbers, prevent environmental degradation, increase wealth of local working families, and improve residents’ quality of life.

Hawaii COVID-19 incident commander says ‘rioting’ a possibility if economy falters (Star Advertiser, May 11, 2020)

Quote from Major General Kenneth Hara: “If we let the economy go the way it’s going, I feel there will be significant civil unrest that could lead to civil disobedience and, worst case, civil disturbance and rioting.”

Hawaii to receive more than $5M for emergency rent payments, food assistance (Pacific Business Journal, 5/11/2020)

The funding will be dispersed to the counties for purposes such as rental and food assistance, grants and loans to small businesses, providing financial support to nonprofits that fall under essential services, and workforce development and training for displaced workers, among other uses.  Honolulu: $3,081,677.  Hawaii County: $975,815.   Maui County: $698,280.   Kauai County: $261,137.

DHHL announces new rental relief program for those affected by COVID-19 (KITV, May 11, 2020)

Native Hawaiian beneficiaries who are on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) applicant waiting list can now participate in the organization’s new program providing rental relief DHHL, potential applicants can contacts DHHL’s partner organization Aloha United Way for more information.

McConnell brushes off Pelosi as she finalizes relief package (Politico, May 11, 2020)

The US House is drafting another stimulus package bill, but it is already being dismissed by the Republican US Senate as a “messaging document.” It appears there is no sense of urgency to get another bill passed and a bill likely won’t be passed until some time in June.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.1M (+100k).  Deaths: 286k(+3.3k).
USA: Cases: 1.34M (+10k).  Deaths: 80.3k (+800).  Total Tested: 9.38M (+380k).
Hawaii: Cases:  634 (+2).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+0). Recovered: 561 (+0).

Sun. 5/10 Daily COVID-19 Update

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Column: Help hard-hit tourism workers with safe reopening of industry – Editorial by Eric Gill, published in Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Excerpt: “We’ve learned in this pandemic that the health of every person affects us all. Every hotel worker should have health care; every person should have health care. No worker should be forced back to work without pandemic safety precautions in place.”

‘Our life is in danger’: Unemployment hits 34% in Hawaii with no end in sight – USA Today. 

This includes an interview with Local 5 member Julie Gabot.

Excerpt: “For 32 years, Julie Gabot drove more than 80 miles round trip each day to work as a housekeeper at the Sheraton Waikiki, cleaning after tourists who enjoyed the resort’s infinity pool and beachfront views.

But after tourism across Hawaii shutdown because of the coronavirus virus, she was let go without severance. Her husband, who worked at the resort for 28 years, was out also out of a job. “

Hawaii homeowners, including super rich, try to tap COVID-19 small business aid – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

The condo board of the Waiea luxury condo in Kakaako applied for over $400,000 in PPP bailout loans, but they decided to drop the application before they got approval from the homeowners. According to the Star-Advertiser, part of the concern was about lost rental income and being unable to pay maintenance fees.

When developers prioritize building luxury condos instead of affordable housing, many of those condos are more like businesses than homes. And the idea that at least some of the board members initially wanted to get bailout money (funded by taxpayers) while laid-off working families (who paid those taxes) struggle to pay their rent, it may make one wonder what exactly is the benefit of allowing luxury condos to get built in our communities.

The Bailout Is Working — for the Rich – ProPublica. 

Excerpt: “If you’re looking for investors’ verdict on who has won the bailout, consider these returns: Shares of Apollo Group, the giant private equity firm, have soared 80% from their lows. The stock of Blackstone, another private equity behemoth, has risen 50%. The reason: Asset holders like Apollo and Blackstone — disproportionately the wealthiest and most influential — have been insured by the world’s most powerful central bank. This largess is boundless and without conditions.”

Apollo owns Diamond Resorts, which owns two Local 5 hotels: The Modern Honolulu and Kaanapali Beach Club. Blackstone owns one Local 5 hotel, Turtle Bay Resort.

Ige Balks At Proposal To Loan Money To Jobless In Limbo – Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Senator Laura Thielen proposed creating an emergency loan program so that people who have been waiting for unemployment insurance payments can get the money they need to survive as they continue to wait. 91,000 unemployment applications still have problems to be sorted out.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.1M (+100k).  Deaths: 282.7(+2.7k).
USA: Cases: 1.33M (+30k).  Deaths: 79.5k (+800).  Total Tested: 8.9M (+200k).
Hawaii: Cases:  632 (+1).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+0). Recovered: 561.