Thu. 6/4/20: COVID-19 Update

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Congress approves sweeping changes to PPP. Here are the details – Washington Business Journal. 

These modifications to the PPP program were originally part of the HEROES Act, which Senate Republicans vowed would never pass because they were against a different part of that act which would have extended the $600 monthly supplemental unemployment benefit.

So instead, legislators both Democrat and Republican passed this legislation, which helps businesses and hurts workers, without winning anything for working people. Further weakening of the rules is likely.

The basic provisions:

  • Instead of having to pay out 75% of the PPP money to workers, business now only have to pay out 60%.
  • Instead of having to spend the money in 8 weeks, businesses have 24 weeks or until December 31.
  • Small businesses that did not rehire employees, hire new employees or return to the same level of business as before the virus can have their loans forgiven anyway.
  • Businesses that got PPP funds can now also get a tax credit to defer payroll taxes (even as they use PPP money to pay payroll) – which was prohibited before as “double dipping.”
  • For those that do have to repay the loans, they will have 5 years to do so instead of 2.
  • More time to rehire employees.

One-Third of America’s Record Unemployment Payout Hasn’t Arrived – Bloomberg News. 

Bloomberg estimates that $67 billion in unemployment benefits from March, April and May still has not been paid out.

Hawaii Island, Maui resorts lay off more than 900 employees – Pacific Business News. 

Waikoloa Beach Marriott and Westin Maui both issued WARN notices.

Food demands in Hawaii increase as unemployment insurance complaints continue – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Before the pandemic, 1 out of 8 Hawaii residents were already struggling with food security. Nonprofits like the Hawaii Foodbank are struggling to meet the growing demand due to the layoffs caused by COVID-19.

HTA chief announces retirement amid crisis for Hawaii tourism industry – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

Chris Tatum (former general manager of Waikiki Beach Marriott) is retiring from the HTA board as of August 31.

A Short History of U.S. Law Enforcement Infiltrating Protests – The Intercept. 

As the title states, this article provides a useful look at law enforcement infiltrating leftist movements and what they have done once they’re in to try to destroy those movements.

Don’t Balance The Budget On The Backs Of The Working Class – editorial by Andrea Brower, published in Honolulu Civil Beat. 

Excerpt: “In the new plantation economy, Hawaii provides cheap labor, natural “resources” (i.e., aina), infrastructure and direct public treasury support in exchange for low-wage jobs and an inflated cost of living. Compared to the profits they extract, multinational companies pay little back to the people and land that create it. A change in form, but not in function, from plantation days of the past.”

Excerpt: “Hawaii already had the distinction of being the state where residents are “most likely” to live paycheck to paycheck. Compared to other states, we have the highest cost of living and the lowest paid workers.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 6.6M. Deaths: 389k .

USA: Cases: 1.87M.  Deaths: 108.2k.

Hawaii: Cases:  655.  Deaths: 17.  Hospitalized: 83. Recovered: 61

Mon. 6/1/20: COVID-19 Update

WED. 6/3/20: FACEBOOK LIVE TOWN HALL

Our next Facebook Live Town Hall is this Wednesday, June 3 at 5:00pm featuring Local 5 Financial Secretary-Treasurer Eric Gill, Hawaii State Senator Laura Thielen, and two frontline hospitality workers who work in the hotel industry and Honolulu Airport.

Our elected officials and corporate executives push forward on reopening Hawaii business and tourism, yet have done little to prioritize the frontline workers who keep these businesses running. The Hawaii State Legislature decided to put over $1.6 billion in state and federal funding into a “rainy day” fund rather than healthcare coverage, unemployment benefits, or other services that could help hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents and their families.

Over 700 frontline workers at HMS Host who work at Honolulu Airport, Lihue Airport, and Kahului Airport will lose their medical coverage on June 4, as the state prepares to end the quarantine for inter-island travel.

This is money that could also be used to pay for the testing of visitors and frontline workers to ensure that our communities are kept safe from COVID-19.

Watch the Town Hall live: share your questions and concerns about reopening Hawaii, the future of Hawaii’s working class, public health and safety, and more.

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Pandemic Job Losses In Hawaii Curb Cash Flow To Families Abroad – Honolulu Civil Beat

Many Hawaii workers, including our Local 5 members, send money to support family living abroad. According to the World Bank, these global remittances are expected to fall 20% because of COVID-19.

This article features two Local 5 members: Sheraton Maui worker Celia Arcilla and Sheraton Waikiki worker Judith Ramirez.

Special food distribution for laid-off hotel workers – KITV 4

Kaiser Permanente distributed fresh produce and food to over 500 Local 5 families on Sunday, May 31. “Many Kaiser Permanente employees at Moanalua Medical Center and facilities across the state are also represented by Local 5 so it is especially gratifying to see union brothers and sisters helping each other,” said Eric Gill, Unite Here Local 5’s Financial Secretary-Treasurer.

The Conversation: Preparing For Tourism’s Return – Hawaii Public Radio

Our Financial Secretary-Treasurer Eric Gill spoke with Hawaii Public Radio this morning about keeping all workers safe and healthy as the state and tourism industry push to reopen.

VIDEO: Gov. David Ige to lift interisland travel quarantine on June 16 – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Governor Ige announced that the 14-day interisland travel quarantine will be lifted for Hawaii residents on June 16.

Packed but peaceful: Black Lives Matter protesters take to streets of Oahu – Hawaii News Now

Black Lives Matter protests took place in Honolulu last Friday and Saturday. A vigil to honor the Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd was organized on Sunday.

No, We Should Not Condemn Uprisings Against Police Murders Like George Floyd’s – Jacobin

Excerpt: “If you care about looting, turn your eyes to the militaries, the police, the pharmaceutical companies, the private equity ghouls, the landlords, the real estate speculators, and the billionaires. And demand that a world once looted from the vast majority be now returned to them.”

Exclusive: U.S. taxpayers’ virus relief went to firms that avoided U.S. taxes – Reuters

Excerpt: “In all, Reuters’ analysis of public data found around 110 publicly traded companies have each received $4 million or more in emergency aid from the program.

Of those subject to taxes, 12 of the companies recently used offshore havens to cut their tax bills, the analysis found. All together, these 12 received more than $104 million in loans from U.S. taxpayers. Seven of them paid no U.S. tax at all for the past year.”

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 6.2M (+100k).  Deaths: 375k (+4k).
USA: Cases: 1.8M (+20k).  Deaths: 105k (+1k).  Total Tested: 17.3M (+400k).
Hawaii: Cases:  652 (+0).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 83 (+1). Recovered: 608 (+0).

Thu. 5/21 COVID-19 Daily Update

Local 5 on Facebook Live

Join us for another Facebook Live session, featuring youth organizers from AiKea and their campaign to register more voters! Go to www.facebook.com/uniteherehawaii/live at 5 pm!

 

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 5.1M (+100k).  Deaths: 333k (+5k).

USA: Cases: 1.57M (+20k).  Deaths: 94.7k (+1.3).  Total Tested: 13M (+400k).
Hawaii: Cases:  647 (+4).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 83 (+1). Recovered: 579 (+1).


Gov. Ige approves Kaua’i’s plan to re-open more businesses Friday (KITV, May 21, 2020)

Kauai’s hotels’ “common areas” will be allowed to reopen tomorrow, May 22nd, subject to infection control restrictions.  Kauai’s Emergency Order 10 also churches, public and private pools, outdoor-based tours, salons and barber shops, and one-one-one services including massage and personal training.

How to restart tourism? Lawmakers push the idea of requiring negative COVID-19 tests (Hawaii News  Now, May 21, 2020)

The article speaks of a “broad consensus” that pre-flight testing is the only way to revive Hawaii’s tourism industry while keeping the virus out.   Rep. Gene Ward said

he got word from the White House on Wednesday that the state can require travelers to show a negative coronavirus test before they board a flight to avoid quarantine once here.   State transportation officials have volunteered Honolulu’s airport as one of 12 test sites for the TSA to do temperature checks before flights, possibly saving Hawaii some of the $36M of COVID funds directed to airport thermal cameras.

Maui County sets a date for allowing dining in at restaurants (Hawaii News Now, May 21, 2020)

Maui dine in restaurant service will be allowed on June 5th, drive through religious services and salons will start reopening on Friday and Monday, respectively.

Hawaii unemployment passes 22% in April (Star Advertiser, May 21, 2020)

The state is saying is using a total workforce of 627,450, out of that, 139,900 are unemployed leading to a statewide rate of 22.3% in April.  However, we know around 220,000 people filed for unemployment and there is still a backlog of UI claims so this unemployment rate may be low.

AFL-CIO sues OSHA for coronavirus standard, says ‘Trump administration refuses to act’ (Fox Business, May 18, 2020)

Airline catering company lays off Kauai, Hawaii Island employees due to Covid (Pacific Business News, May 21, 2020)

Flying Food issues WARN lay off notice for workers on outer islands after laying off its 500+ workers on Oahu in April.

Strikes erupt as US essential workers demand protection amid pandemic (The Guardian, May 19, 2020)

Workers have started taking direct action in response to corporate apathy about safety and quality of life.

COVID-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map (Pay Day Report)

This site is gathering data in map form on actions and wildcat strikes that have taken place around the country, so far it has gathered 220 of various sizes and types.  The list is far from exhaustive and fails to capture all the worker strikes and actions that have taken place.

CDC quietly releases detailed guidelines for reopening America (CNBC, May 20, 2020)

Guidelines are quietly released after the Trump administration shelved the long-awaited CDC reopening guidance earlier this month.

 

Wed. 5/20: COVID-19 Daily Update

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

US beaches begin reopening, with restrictions varying from state to state – ABC News

This national news story features Wendy Perez, who works at the front desk at Waikiki Beach Marriott.

COVID-19-related U.S. travel job losses double national unemployment at the height of the Great Depression – Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 

This article includes quotes from Miles Quartero, a bellman at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Trump threatens funds for states offering absentee, mail-in voting amid coronavirus pandemic – Associated Press. 

Trump’s threats are a straight-up attempt to crush democracy by making it harder for people to vote. His claims about election fraud are simply not true, as was clearly documented here right after the last election. But Trump is not alone in wanting to stop people from voting: for many years now, the right has been carrying out several strategies to suppress the votes of anyone they think will not vote for their favorite candidates:

One piece of that is gerrymandering – there is a good investigative report about that which looks at over 70,000 documents, maps and emails of one of the masterminds of the plan (which his daughter made public after he recently passed away).

Another big piece is removing voters from the voter registry, as documented here and here.

Another piece involves taking away certain people’s right to vote, such as people who were once convicted of felonies (and because the criminal justice system has racial biases built into it, that group of people is disproportionately non-white). More about that here.

One piece is about dismantling the Postal Service, which would make mail-in elections impossible – as described here.

Some of it involves simply throwing ballots away without looking at them, such as in this case.

‘The Corruption Is on Full Display: Trump Executive Order Directs All Agencies to Gut Business Regulations Amid Covid-19 – Common Dreams. 

The Trump administration is not only putting itself above the law, it is trying to get rid of regulations that ensure the health, safety, sanitation, clean environment, etc. for working people. Why would they do that? Because having to follow regulations costs corporations money, and getting rid of them would give corporations bigger profits, even if it means working people will suffer and die as a result.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 5.0M (+100k).  Deaths: 328k (+6k).
USA: Cases: 1.55M (+30k).  Deaths: 93.4k (+1.6).  Total Tested: 12.6M (+400k).
Hawaii: Cases:  643 (+2).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 82 (+0). Recovered: 578 (+0).

Tue. 5/19: COVID-19 Daily Update

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Gov. David Ige faces the dilemma of eventually reopening to both tourists and new infections (Star Advertiser, May 19, 2020)

Hawaii’s unique geography allowed for the state to achieve some of the best infection control results. But any reopening of the state could invite COVID infections back into the state. It will be impossible to avoid COVID in near future.

It is a question of what actions the state will take to mitigate the worst impacts. That policy debate is happening now, as Ige approaches June reopening dates.

Rep. McDermott and Rep. Ward are pushing for strong screening during a visitor’s airport processing, with visitors taking tests at their origin point 72 hours prior to arrival in Hawaii. Under their plan, in-airport testing would be possible combined with quarantines for positives or forced immediate expulsion of uncooperative visitors. Critics say testing isn’t 100% foolproof, but catching a significant number is better than no testing at all.

LIVE: City unveils plan to offer over 100,000 coronavirus tests as state reopens (Hawaii News Now, May 19, 2020)

Honolulu is using $4 million in federal funds to provide 50,000 antigen tests and 50,000 antibody tests in partnership with local health centers and the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Wastewater treatment plants will also be testing for infection. The tests will be offered at no or low cost.

Under governor’s plan, much of the ‘kamaaina economy’ will be reopened by early June (Hawaii News Now, May 19, 2020)

Moratorium against eviction for failure to pay rent has been extended through June 30. As reported yesterday, Ige plans to open up “medium risk” businesses like gyms, restaurants, salons, in-room dining, theatres, churches, museums, etc. in the month of June.

What the future of buffet restaurants could look like (KHON, May 19, 2020)

Buffet restaurants will have to take additional infection control measures like sneeze guards, individual tongs, gloves for everyone, etc. Not mentioned in this article is that more workers can be used to do portion-service in a buffet context.

Don’t Let Child Care Become An Afterthought (Civil Beat, May 19, 2020)

Depending on what may happen with economic reopenings, second or third wave lock downs, and school openings/closures, childcare availability will affect working families ability to go back to work and function.

Hawaii Foodbank holding food drive on Wednesday (Star Advertiser, May 19, 2020)

The Hawaii Foodbank is holding another major food distribution at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 20 at Aloha Stadium. It is the sixth of nine “Food for Hawai‘i’s ‘Ohana” events planned in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Participants should enter at Gate 3 on Kahuapaani Street and must arrive in a vehicle, with space clear for the food. TheFoodbank requires a valid government-issued ID and a completed Household Information Form for each household represented (an adult from each household represented must be present; three households maximum per vehicle). The form and other information can be found at http://www.hawaiifoodbank.org/covid-oahu . Those who cannot access or print a form should bring a pen.

These events are in addition to 200 drives that the Foodbank regularly participates in via partner agencies.

Republicans Are Planning to Spend $20 Million So You Won’t Vote (Vice, May 19, 2020)

The Republican Party is building a program to recruit tens of thousands of volunteers in over a dozen states to conduct anti-”voter fraud” efforts, which means monitoring polls and challenging votes and voter registrations, according to the New York Times. The Republican party is spending $20 million on its efforts, which intends to recruit up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 states to “monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious,” the Times reports. The money is also intended to fight Democratic-backed lawsuits against alleged voter suppression efforts on the part of Republicans.

The Wisconsin conservative protests to “reopen” the economy had large number of people with assault rifles show up. The issue at hand was about the economy, jobs, health, and a microscopic germ. Bringing guns to that protest at a state capital building was nothing but domestic terrorism (lawmakers had to wear bullet proof vests). It was use of fear and intimidation for political purposes (and maybe appeal to party identity). Any Republican justification for their voter suppression is a lie and nothing more than a cover story to once again use fear and intimidation to suppress people.

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.9M (+100k).  Deaths: 322k (+4k).
USA: Cases: 1.52M (+20k).  Deaths: 91.8k (+1.5).  Total Tested: 12.2M (+400k).
Hawaii: Cases:  641 (+0).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 82 (+0). Recovered: 578 (+3).

Mon. 5/18: COVID-19 Daily Update

NEW RESOURCE: CITY & COUNTY OF HONOLULU HARDSHIP RELIEF PROGRAM

Oahu residents who are being economically impacted by COVID-19 can apply to the City & County of Honolulu’s new Hardship Relief Program. If you meet the criteria, you may receive up to $1,000 per household per month and up to $500 additional per month for childcare services. We placed this on our Local 5 Resources page. Click here for more information.

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

LIVE: Governor outlines plan for reopening economy, extends traveler quarantine through June 30 (Hawaii News Now, May 18, 2020)

The visitor 14-day quarantine will last until June 30th. The state has created a four-phase plan; we are in phase 2, with planned June re-openings of “medium risk” businesses like restaurants, gyms, hair salons, churches, museums, and theaters.

High-risk businesses like bars, clubs, and large venues do not have an expected reopening date. Caldwell stated he got permission from Ige to reopen Honolulu restaurants in Hawaii on June 5th.  Maui will reopen hair salons on May 25th.

All these reopenings will require infection control measures like social distancing and face masks. You can view Ige’s order and slideshow of the reopening plan by clicking here.

State setting aside $635M in federal stimulus funds for unemployment (Hawaii News Now, May 18, 2020)

A state house bill will take $635 million of the $1.25B billion federal stimulus funds allocated to Hawaii to be used to fund state unemployment claims. Employers will not be on the hook to replenish the depleted fund thorough payroll taxes. Other provisions of the bill direct federal money to the counties and funding for various state COVID responses. The state house will vote on the senate bill soon.

Hawaii Medicaid Applications Soar Amid Widespread Job Losses (Civil Beat, May 18, 2020)

Applications for the state’s Medicaid program jumped 40% with 21,000 applying since March.  There are 348,000 residents enrolled in the program as of May 11.

“People Will Die. People Do Die.” Wall Street Has Had Enough of the Lockdown (Vanity Fair, May 18, 2020)

If you want to read about how the “other side” views the life vs. money and health vs. reopening the economy debate, you can read this anecdotal article with some choice quotes (such as “This is not a 100% death rate. It’s a number of basis points,” or, “There’s got to be some kind of blanket indemnity” to protect employers from any liability for endangering or harming the public after reopening).

COVID Cases Today

World: Cases: 4.8M (+100k).  Deaths: 318k (+3k).
USA: Cases: 1.5M (+20k).  Deaths: 90.3k (+800).  Total Tested: 11.8M (+300k).
Hawaii: Cases:  640 (+0).  Deaths: 17 (+0).  Hospitalized: 82 (+0). Recovered: 5754 (+1).