Sat. 5/9 Daily COVID-19 Update

News Highlights

COVID Cases Today
World: Cases: 4.0M (+70k).  Deaths: 279(+5k)
USA: Cases: 1.3M (+20k).  Deaths: 78.7k (+1.6k).  Total Tested: 8.7M (+300k)
Hawaii: Cases:  631 (+2).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+o). Recovered: 551

Fresh coronavirus outbreaks in Germany and South Korea show the risks in easing up restrictions – Associated Press

U.S. Leisure and Hospitality Industry Lost 8.2 Million Jobs in 2 Months – Skift

– Excerpt: “The April job loss in leisure and hospitality was more than three times greater than the second-most-impacted sector, education and health services, which saw a decline of 2.54 million jobs.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell criticizes state’s failure to expand COVID-19 testing – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

‘I Have To Accept Reality’: First-Timers Line Up For Foodbank Help – Honolulu Civil Beat

– People in Hawaii have been lining up at food distribution events hours before they even start because of the number of people in line.

Housing Is A Human Right – opinion piece by Tina Grandinetti, Sonny Ganaden, Adele Balderston, and Hunter Heaivilin, published in Honolulu Civil Beat

– Even with a temporary moratorium on evictions for not paying rent or mortgage, people will still struggle to pay those bills as we move into a recession, and they risk losing their housing if more comprehensive action is not taken to help them.

– Urges the governor to extend the eviction moratorium, fully relieve rent and mortgage payment obligations for those that cannot afford them, create state funds for rent and mortgage relief that landlords and mortgage companies can apply for when their tenants and mortgagees cannot pay, and other ideas.

 


Legislative Deal In The Works Would Use Untapped Funds To Dodge Budget Cuts – Honolulu Civil Beat

 

 

Fri. 5/8/20: COVID-19 Daily Update

NEW RESOURCE: GUIDE ON APPLYING FOR PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

We added a guide on applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to our Local 5 Resources Page. Click here for the guide.

At the bottom of the guide is information on the DLIR’s new system that will allow claimants to certify their unemployment claims on designated days based on their last names. This will begin on Monday, May 11.

WATCH: FACEBOOK LIVE CONCERT BY LOCAL 5 MEMBERS MARK KAMEHELE & BO CORTEZ

Today’s Facebook Live session featured Local 5 members Mark Kamahele (Sheraton Waikiki) and Bo Cortez (Princess Kaiulani), who did a live music session to promote our Local 5 Hardship Fund. Don’t forget to donate here: http://uniteherelocal5.org. If you missed their live show, you can watch the recording here.

We are hosting Facebook Live sessions every Wednesday and Friday at 5pm. Stay tuned for more!

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Missed a food distribution? Several more will be held this Saturday (Hawaii News Now, May 8, 2020)

On Saturday starting at 8:30am there will be four Salvation Army food distribution events: Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center, Maui’s Queen Kaahumanu Center and Big Island’s Hilo and Kailua-Kona Salvation Army Hilo Temple Corps locations.

In milestone, Hawaii reports no new COVID-19 cases for the first time in 8 weeks (Hawaii News Now, May 8, 2020)

Authorities said while the development is positive, residents shouldn’t grow complacent.

State Pays Out $140,300,082 in unemployment benefits, shares updates about current process (KHON, May 8, 2020)

The article lists a timeline of logistical steps already taken to upgrade the DLIR’s unemployment processing capabilities.

New requirements ahead for airline passengers arriving in Hawaii (Star Advertiser, May 8, 2020)

The DOT is in the process of implementing a stricter visitor airport arrival form that will help tracking of visitors.  The new form will require a departure date, contact information for the entire traveling party; also there will be new screening checkpoints for travelers to pass through at the airport.

VIDEO: Mayor Kirk Caldwell criticizes State Department of Health for refusing testing offers (Star Advertiser, May 8, 2020)

Caldwell and other health professionals are criticizing the state Health Dept. and Ige for not providing more COVID testing and rejecting the City’s offer to help.  Caldwell says again that contact tracing and wide spread testing are need to be widely in place to safely reopen the state and criticized the state for not doing more contact tracing training if there’s a second wave or surge.

US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7% (AP, May 8, 2020)

Due to government errors and the Labor Department measures the job market, the true picture is likely worse. By some calculations, the unemployment rate stands at 23.6%, not far from the Depression peak of nearly 25%.

Oops, they did it again: Trump’s refusal to wear a mask as a signal to fascism (Salon, May 8, 2020)

The subtitle of the article is “Trump’s refusal to wear a mask isn’t just vanity — it’s also a fascist rejection of the duty to protect others”.  The “rejection of the duty to protect others” part is worth thinking about when trying to understand the difference in moral values that motivate the people who are doing their part and those who angrily refuse to wear face masks or follow health guidelines.  The rest of the article is an interesting armchair analysis of the fascist mindset.

The Pandemic Has Laid Bare the Moral Chaos at the Heart of Modern Conservative Politics (Esquire, May 8, 2020)

The article covers a few examples of Republican apathy and how they frame their rhetoric to express and reinforce those views.

For example, US Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana said, “Well, people in hell want ice water too,” when asked about people on unemployment receiving more economic relief.  The interesting revelation of this quote is the implication that people on unemployment benefits are equated to people in hell, that they are sinners, immoral and deserving of the pain and suffering as punishment for their sins (i.e. being poor).

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 3.93M (+90k).  Deaths: 274(+5k)

USA: Cases: 1.28M (+30k).  Deaths: 77.1k (+1.5k).  Total Tested: 8.4M (+300k)

Hawaii: Cases:  629 (+0).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 81 (+7). Recovered: 565*

Thursday 5/7 COVID-19 Daily Update

New Resources

New resource added: expanded child care subsidy http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/ccch-subsidies/how-to-apply/

More childcare resources for essential workers: http://www.patchhawaii.org/

Video

Over the weekend, thousands of people around the world joined Call to Unite—a 24-hour livestream event to inspire people to connect, share, and show support. Union workers from Teamsters, UFCW, Machinists Union, and UNITE HERE shared amazing stories of sacrifice and solidarity.

Brandy Banaay, housekeeper from Hilton Doubletree in Waikiki and a UNITE HERE Local 5 member shared why it’s important for her to flatten the curve. Watch Brandy’s video here and share our donation page: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/unite-here-local-5.

News Highlights

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 3.84M (+90k).  Deaths: 269(+5k)

USA: Cases: 1.25M (+20k).  Deaths: 75.6k (+2.2k).  Total Tested: 8.1M (+400k)
Hawaii: Cases:  629 (+3).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 74 (+1). Recovered: 565(+14)

DLIR: Changes made to help overall unemployment system (KITV, May 7, 2020)

DLIR is asking that residents file weekly or biweekly unemployment claim certifications according to the first letter of your last name: A – G Monday; H – O Tuesday;

P – Z Wednesday.  If you missed your assigned alphabetical days, then file in the following order: Thursday, Friday, Saturday then Sunday.  Thursday, DLIR announced that it has processed nearly 63% unemployment claims in Hawaii. Now, there are just over 84,000 to go.

City unveils $25M program to provide emergency aid to struggling Oahu families (Hawaii News Now, May 7 2020)

The program will work with nonprofits, including Aloha United Way, Helping Hands Hawaii, and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, to provide money to the hardest-hit individuals, specifically to help pay for rent, utilities and childcare.  It will offer reimbursements of up to $1,000 per month for eligible household expenses, and up to $500 a month for childcare expenses for those who can show financial hardship, for up to six months. More specific details will be posted soon to oneoahu.org.

Cash grants available to University of Hawaii students through CARES Act (Star Advertiser, May 7, 2020)

The University of Hawaii is making cash grants using federal funds from the CARES Act. UH received a total of total roughly $12.98 million for direct aid to students.  UH students can quickly apply online for the grants. The government is targeting the money to students who already qualify for federal financial aid. The university sent emails this week to eligible students with the appropriate links for them to apply.  Further, the UH Foundation had already launched a fundraising campaign for an Urgent Student Relief Fund that raised more than $1 million for students, applications and donations to that Urgent Student Relief Fund are still being accepted. UH Manoa students may also apply for CARES funding through that same portal.

‘Restore Honolulu’ Order allows O‘ahu retail establishments to re-open on May 15 (KITV, May 7 2020

Oahu will wait a week before following recent Gov. Ige’s state order allowing some reopening of retail businesses.  Mayor Caldwell also released a new comprehensive executive order today summarizing the county’s emergency rules under the “Restore Honolulu” branding.

Retail stores on Maui set to reopen May 11th (KITV, May 7, 2020)

Maui’s limited reopening of retail businesses will be allowed three days after the effective date of Gov. Ige’s state order.

State legislature reconvenes Monday for short session (KITV, May 7, 2020)

The legislature will gather for a session that will last 6-10 days to address the expected $1B budget shortfall.  the public can submit written testimony or watch hearings online.

Trump administration buries detailed CDC advice on reopening country (Star Advertiser, May 7, 2020)

The anticipated federal guidance from the CDC about reopening the country and state economies will not be released by the White House.  The Trump administration will leave it to the 50 states to each do their own thing as they see fit.

Ahmaud Arbery was killed doing what he loved, and a south Georgia community demands justice (CNN, May 7, 2020)

A young black man was recently lynched in the South.  Two men with guns in a pickup truck (one of them standing up in the truck bed) chased down a black man who was jogging and killed him, in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon.  This happened in February but it wasn’t until a video of the incident was leaked this week before authorities did anything about the killers, one of whom was a former district attorney investigator and officer.  They were only arrested and charged today.  The two saw the victim jogging in their neighborhood, grabbed their guns and called another friend to join them, got in their truck and hunted the man down, when Ahmaud tried to jog around their truck repeatedly, one of the two men engaged him with a shotgun, they struggled, shots were fired and Ahmaud died.  You can watch the video here but it shows the man’s death.  The two men were never arrested or charged by authorities because they claimed they were making a citizen’s arrest under Georgia law and they felt threatened for their lives after they left their homes, jumped in a car with their guns and chased after the victim they killed.  They thought he was a burglar that had stolen a gun out of their unlocked truck, based on their home security video.

 

 

Wed. 5/6/20: COVID-19 Daily Update

NEW RESOURCES: EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE AND RENT MORATORIUM

Our Local 5 Resources Page continues to be updated regularly. We added the Hawaii Foodbank’s Emergency Food Assistance page.

We also added information on federal and state rent moratoriums, which includes information for public housing tenants and other renters. Thanks to the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawaii for providing this great resource.

WATCH: FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL – REOPENING HAWAII TOURISM: OUR AIRPORTS

Today’s Facebook Live Town Hall continued our discussion on reopening Hawaii tourism, with guests from other labor unions that also represent airline & airport workers: Jamie Estrada (Machinists Union, Local Lodge 1979), Kevin Batey (United Airlines Association of Flight Attendants, Council 14), and Lisa Marie Akau (American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1234, representing TSA employees at the airport).

Local 5 represents airline catering workers who work for United Airlines and Gate Gourmet, as well as HMS Host food service workers at Honolulu, Kahului, and Lihue airports.

If you missed the live discussion, you can watch the recording here.

Don’t miss our next Facebook Live session this Friday, May 8 at 5:00pm! Watch here: http://facebook.com/uniteherehawaii

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

How An Antiquated IT System Failed Thousands Of Hawaii’s Unemployed – Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Part of the reason so many people are having trouble with their unemployment claims is because the state is using a 40-year-old system to process the claims.

Second coronavirus wave: How bad will it be as lockdowns ease? – Associated Press. 

Excerpt: “A century ago, the Spanish flu epidemic’s second wave was far deadlier than its first, in part because authorities allowed mass gatherings from Philadelphia to San Francisco.”

Excerpt: “New confirmed daily infections in the U.S. exceed 20,000, and deaths per day are well over 1,000, according to the Johns Hopkins tally. And public health officials warn that the failure to lower the infection rate could lead to many more deaths—perhaps tens of thousands—as people venture out and businesses reopen.”

The article notes that outside of New York City (where infection rates are falling significantly), the infection rate for the rest of the country is actually still rising.

Health experts say it’s too soon for Hawaii to reopen – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Excerpt: “‘Opening malls is brain-dead. That’s just inviting crowds. That’s just foolish. One thing we know about the virus is it loves crowds. The last thing we want to do is bring people together,’ said Dr. Tim Brown, an infectious-disease modeler and senior fellow at the East-West Center.”

Honolulu To Allow Delayed Property Tax Payments – Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Homeowners, who normally have to pay property tax in February and August, will be able to split their August payment into four chunks this year, to be paid over the course of four months from August through November. They don’t have to do anything special to take advantage of this; they should receive “coupons” in the August bill. There are no penalties or interest.

We Don’t Have to Live in a Society of Massive Inequality and Unnecessary Death – Jacobin. 

Excerpt: “Whether Republican or Democrat, the American ruling class prioritizes the stock market and corporate profits over human safety and dignity. Businesses’ right to make money has always superseded our right to live. Even in “normal” circumstances, workers are used and abused. Millions of us have to work until we die, with no pension or retirement. Nearly 75 percent of us will die in debt. And in the pandemic, things are even more dire: showing up to your low-wage job can get you killed.”

The U.S. Response to Covid-19 Has Lavished Wealth on the Rich – In These Times. 

Excerpt: “According to a recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies, America’s billionaires saw their wealth shoot up by $282 billion in just 23 days as the country was sheltering in lockdown. Overall, U.S. billionaire wealth grew by nearly 10% at the same time over 20 million people filed for unemployment, and by April 10 had passed $3.2 trillion—topping last year’s level.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 3.75M (+99k). Deaths: 264(+7k)
USA: Cases: 1.23M (+30k). Deaths: 73.4k (+2.4k). Total Tested: 7.7M (+200k)
Hawaii: Cases: 626 (+1). Deaths: 17 (+0). Hospitalized: 73 (+0). Recovered: 551(+0)

Tue. 5/5/20: COVID-19 Daily Update

TOMORROW (WED. 5/6/20): FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL – REOPENING HAWAII TOURISM: OUR AIRPORTS

Tomorrow’s Facebook Live Town Hall will continue our discussion on reopening Hawaii tourism, with guests from other labor unions that also represent airline & airport workers. Local 5 represents airline catering workers who work for United Airlines and Gate Gourmet, as well as HMS Host food service workers at Honolulu, Kahului, and Lihue airports.

Watch tomorrow (Wed. 5/6), 5pm, on our Facebook page: http://facebook.com/uniteherehawaii.

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Ige allows shopping malls, other businesses to reopen in ‘phase 1’ of restarting economy (Hawaii News Now, May 5, 2020)

Businesses allowed to reopen early Friday morning May 8th, include:

  • Shopping malls and retailers
  • Non-food agricultural companies, including florists
  • Astronomical observatories
  • Pet grooming services
  • Health care and social assistance, including elective surgery
  • Nonprofits that were previously not considered “essential”
  • Wholesale businesses

Businesses that must remain closed or partially closed still include: restaurant dine-in areas and shopping mall food courts, attractions and places of worship. It’s still unclear when “high-risk” activities, like sporting events or concerts will be allowed.

Recalling Hawaii workers presents challenge in unemployment policy (Star Advertiser, May 5, 2020)

The DLIR will have a difficult time dealing with appeals from workers who don’t want to give up larger unemployment payments to go back to work. The reopening of the Hawaii economy and the businesses that have taken the PPP loan are forcing many workers and the DLIR to confront this issue.

Processing appeals where employers try to cut off employee benefits for refusing work, workers with no childcare options, or workers who feel unsafe going back to work will be difficult and time consuming. The DLIR is building a new site so employers can tell DLIR which employees are getting paid again or refused work.

Hawaii tourism leaders urge state recovery plan (Star Advertiser, May 5, 2020)

Two visitor industry leaders, Jerry Gibson and Keith Viera, share some insight:

  • They want to reopen sooner if possible under new safety protocols—everything from extra cleaning to social distancing measures like conducting more online business, blocking out hotel rooms or floors to space out customers, and reconfiguring restaurants and other common areas.
  • They’re open to state-run inspections to ensure that the visitor industry is delivering on its safety brand promise.
  • Ideally, the travel quarantine would be lifted between May 31 and mid-June. Tourism would still start slow with hotels taking up to 60 days to reopen.
  • Hawaii’s visitor industry wants to see contact tracing and rapid passenger testing implemented here. The state should take the lead on implementation.
  • HTA, HVCB and HLTA have begun working with the industry to identify best safety practices and share them.
  • The industry would like the state to adopt a set of mandatory regulations. The state Department of Health could create some sort of evaluation system, at least for the first six months, similar to restaurant health inspections with graded placards.

Airline catering company Flying Foods permanently lays off more than 500 Honolulu employees (Pacific Business News, May 5, 2020)

This company issued their WARN notice with the effective lay-off date of April 17th.

Airbnb is laying off 25% of its employees (CNN, May 5, 2020)

The company is laying off 1,900 workers from its workforce of 7,500. It is scaling back its transportation, boutique hotel and luxury vacation rental projects. Its 2020 IPO is also likely to be put on hold. Notably, in the US, Airbnb said it will cover 12 months of health insurance for its employees through COBRA. In all other countries, it will cover health insurance costs through the end of this year.

United Airlines service workers’ union sues over schedule cuts after carrier got federal aid (CNBC, May 5, 2020)

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers representing 25,000 United Airlines workers sued the company for cutting people’s hours which is an alleged violation of the CARES Act loan it received since the loan was conditioned on no cuts or changes to wages or staffing level.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 3.66M (+80k).  Deaths: 257(+6k)

USA: Cases: 1.2M (+20k).  Deaths: 71k (+1.1k).  Total Tested: 7.5M (+300k)

Hawaii: Cases:  625 (+4).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 73 (+0). Recovered: 551(+3)

Mon. 5/4/20: COVID-19 Daily Update

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Leaders expect ‘unified plan’ to restart Hawaii economy by end of this week (Pacific Business News, May 4, 2020)

The plan developed by Ige’s economic coordinator and the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic Impact & Preparedness will be announced later this week. UHERO reportedly believes the “local” economy will return to 75% by end of the year. With the tourism economy to start reopening in July, it believes the industry will regain 28% of lost activity by the end of the third quarter and 50% by the end of the year. But a worst-case scenario would say 12-18 months until a vaccine is developed (if one ever is developed).

DLIR makes headway on unemployment claims, predicts drop in filings (Pacific Business News, May 4, 2020)

From the beginning of March through Sunday there have been 234,001 unemployment claims filed in the state, not including 95,353 duplicates, according to data from DLIR. Of those claims 125,511, or 56.6%, have been processed and 96,190, 43.3%, are in process. About 36,693 claims were rejected.

The DLIR is currently setting up a separate portal for employers to report the return of workers to help with the Paycheck Protection Plan program.

Visitor arrivals tick up again amid growing concerns about quarantine’s enforcement (Hawaii News Now, May 4 ,2020)

The 14-day mandatory quarantine is still in effect for arrivals.  Visitor arrivals to the islands nudged up again Sunday — to 228. That’s up from 188 the day before, and 166 on Thursday.

Reshaping Hawaii’s Economy For A Post-Pandemic World (Civil Beat, May 4, 2020)

Alan Oshima, the coordinator for Hawaii’s economic recovery, optimistically invites people to reshape Hawaii’s economy in a post-pandemic world.  The article discuses a new organization to collect the story of lower income people to insert qualified data into public policy, a renewable energy business incubator, a social/environmental justice business incubator and rethinking agriculture in Hawaii.  What do YOU think can be done to reshape a better sustainable Hawaii?

United Airlines COO says employees should ‘seriously consider’ voluntary separation from the airline (KITV, May 4, 2020)

Don’t forget that in the past 10 years United has spent $8.8B of its $11.5B of free cash flow in buying back its own stock, now the company is asking workers to voluntary resign from their good paying jobs as the company “right sizes”.  Six major airlines spent 96% of their free cash flow on stock buyback over the last ten years.

Working at home had a positive effect on productivity during the pandemic, survey says (USA Today, May 4, 2020)

COVID created a huge workforce experiment when workers worked at home extensively for the first time.  As employers and employees assess the cost and benefits for their specific situations, there could be a major shift in how white collar work is expected to be done.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 3.58M (+80k).  Deaths: 251(+5k)
USA: Cases: 1.18M (+30k).  Deaths: 68.9 (+1.3k).  Total Tested: 7.2M (+200k)
Hawaii: Cases:  621 (+1).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 73 (+0). Recovered: 548(+4)