During a pandemic, with so many unknowns, one thing that can ground decision-making is data. For months, the community, media, and lawmakers have called for more data ranging from demographic information to testing turnaround time to where clusters were occurring. We know that with a complex issue such as COVID-19, a single metric doesn’t show the entire picture. Data transparency can help restore public trust and buy-in, as well as create a way to track accountability.

Last week, the state took a step forward in data transparency by publishing a new COVID-19 dashboard. While some of the data in the dashboard was already available, it is helpful in that it combines multiple sources of data into a single, central source of information. The dashboard also includes key COVID-19 indicators for prevention, detection, containment, and healthcare capacity that can be used to inform policies and track their effectiveness.

Some other great sources of data include the Hawaiʻi Pandemic Applied Modeling workgroup (HiPAM) and the Hawaiʻi Data Collaborative.

Register for our next Public Health Action webinar featuring Jacquie Esser, JD and Kat Brady with the Community Alliance on Prisons. They will discuss inequities in enforcement, compassionate release, reducing arrests, and delaying sentencing to protect public health, as well as processes that may be contributing to arrests in an era with waves of new restrictions. You can also watch last week’s webinar on the pandemic’s impact on the childcare sector and its role as an essential part of our economic infrastructure.

TAKE ACTION
The Hawai‘i Working Families Coalition is calling on Governor David Ige and state legislators to get hundreds of millions of dollars of CARES Act funds to those who need it most – Hawaii’s struggling families. Sign the petition at https://p2a.co/iMQVGXy.

STATE UPDATES
Emergency Rental Assistance
The State of Hawaii’s Rent Relief and Housing Assistance Program provides up to $2,000 per month for rental assistance as well as financial counseling. Only rent due between August 1 and December 28 are eligible at this time. Learn more about the program and how to apply at hihousinghelp.com.

Surge Testing
The federal government is providing Hawai‘i with surge testing capacity of up to 5,000 tests per day through September 14. The tests are free (no insurance needed), self-administered and do not require a physician’s referral. Sign up at doineedacovid19test.com.

Online Safe Travels Application Form 
The new Safe Travels application is a mandatory form that must be filled out for interisland and transpacific travel to Hawai‘i. This short video provides an overview of the process. The new form can be found at travel.hawaii.gov.

COUNTY UPDATES
City and County of Honolulu
Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today that the Stay-at-Home order has been extended to September 23, with one notable change:

Parks, beaches, trails, and community gardens are reopened for solo activity only starting on September 10. The activity does not have to be exercise – people are allowed to sit at a park or read a book – but Mayor Caldwell emphasized that there are no exceptions for groups, even if you are from the same household.

Non-essential businesses are still closed and indoor and outdoor gatherings are still prohibited.

Kaua‘i County
The Aloha For Kaua‘i campaign will offer digital marketing and promotional support to 24 local restaurants and retailers. Interested businesses should fill out this form by Saturday, September 12 at 5 PM. Visit the campaign on Instagram and Facebook.

Maui County
Kōkua Maui County Small Business Recovery & Relief Fund helps local small businesses recover and survive impacts from COVID-19 by covering expenses such as rent/lease payments, utility payments and COVID-19-related safety precautions. The maximum award for small businesses is $7,500. Learn more and apply here.

Hawai‘i County
Mayor Harry Kim closed all county and state beach parks through September 18 amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Beach parks may only be used for ocean access, exercising, fishing and gathering food, and using the bathrooms and shower facilities.

The Holomua Hawaiʻi will provide county businesses and non-profits a one-time reimbursement of up to $10,000 for costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For application and eligibility information, visit holomuahawaii.com.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION WEBINAR 9/16

Watch Webinar

COVID-19 SURVIVOR STORIES

The Department of Health launched the “Live With No Regrets” campaign featuring stories from COVID-19 survivors in Hawaiʻi. In an emotional appeal to Hawai‘i residents who are not wearing masks or practicing physical distancing, these survivors share the very real impacts the virus had on them and their loved ones.

Watch Videos

PUBLIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK

Humans are naturally social creatures, and the prolonged social distancing can be isolating and lonely for many. Creating a “social bubble” is one way people can expand their social circle in a controlled way so that if one person becomes infected, the spread is contained. Although some parts of Hawai‘i are still under a “Stay-at-Home” order and social bubbles are not permitted at this time, it is important for people to understand how they can gather and socialize safely once the restrictions ease.

A social bubble is formed when a small group of people (usually ten or less) have agreed to limit their close social interactions to only each other. People within the bubble can treat each other as if they are members of the same household. The bubble should be a consistent group of people and members cannot be swapped out week to week. It is important to note that you can only be part of one bubble. Outside that trusted bubble, all members must practice social distancing and wear masks around others.

FREE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR ELIGIBLE BUSINESSES AND NON-PROFITS
The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) is managing the Hawaiʻi Medical Logistics Personal Protective Equipment program, which offers free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to qualified recipients. Qualified recipients, which includes schools, health care providers, and certain small businesses and non-profit organizations, must fill out a qualification survey before they are eligible to place an order. After completing the initial qualification survey, you will get a password via email a couple days later to set up an account. Distribution is tentatively anticipated to occur from mid-October – December 2020, so eligible organizations are encouraged to apply now with the understanding that it could take 60 to 90 days to receive PPE.

SURVEY: IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON HAWAII’S RENTAL PROPERTIES
University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) is seeking property managers and landlords to participate in a survey to collect data on the impacts of the COVID-19 crises on our state’s rental housing, specifically on the number of rental households struggling to pay rent and the number of rental properties at risk of being lost to sale or conversion. UHERO is particularly interested in reaching small “mom and pop” and landlords and family huis who may not be a member of our partner organizations and are typically underrepresented in data collection efforts. Access the survey at http://hawaii.surveyshare.com/s/AYAS2KB.

HAWAIʻI IS HIRING WEBSITE
Hawaiʻi is Hiring is a one-stop online resource that connects kamaʻāina to job opportunities, training programs and career navigation. Its goal is to help Hawaiʻi residents impacted by COVID-19 find new employment and prepare for career paths that align with Hawaii’s economy of the future. Hawai‘i is Hiring provides local job seekers and new graduates with a streamlined job board, as well as local short-term certificate programs and earn-and-learn opportunities like internships and apprenticeships that provide workers of all ages with opportunities to gain new skills to re-enter the workforce.

TAXATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
Did you know that unemployment is taxable income? If you or someone you know has claimed unemployment, please share this information with them so they are not caught off guard when filing their tax return next year! More information is included on this flyer and at irs.gov/uc.

DO YOU HAVE RESOURCES OR INFORMATION ON COVID-19 TO SHARE?
If you have any resources or updates we should include in our next bi-weekly email or website, feel free to contact us at covidresponse@hiphi.org.