11K Participate in Telephone Town Hall, Another Planned on April 1

March 26, 2020, 7:48 AM HST · Updated March 26, 7:48 AM
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An estimated 11,000 residents and small businesses tuned in to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s telephone town hall on Wednesday afternoon with Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

She noted that funds made available by the first emergency relief bill that passed in Congress are now being allocated to Hawai‘i, including over $750,000 granted to 14 community health centers across the state.

She will host her next tele-town hall on Wednesday, April 1 at 4 p.m.

Others who participated in yesterday’s town hall were Hilton Raethel of the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi and Jane Sawyer of the US Small Business Administration Hawaiʻi District Office.

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They answered questions and shared the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, including what she is doing in Congress to help Hawai‘i to respond to this ongoing public health crisis.

Listen to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s March 25, 2020 Telephone Town Hall

“I want to thank Lt. Gov. Green, Hilton Raethel, and Jane Sawyer for joining me in reaching out to thousands of Hawai‘i residents this afternoon to share critical information and answer questions,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Many people still have questions about when testing kits will be available, expressing concern about the lack of masks and protective equipment for healthcare professionals, assistance needed for small businesses and laid off workers, and more. We will continue to hold these telephone town halls, with guest speakers, to provide a lifeline of information for Hawai‘i residents.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard opened the telephone town hall covering the latest developments on Capitol Hill, including the ongoing negotiations for a third emergency funding bill that will help address the challenges being faced by Hawai‘i’s residents and businesses which just passed the U.S. Senate tonight. Among the aspects she highlighted were provisions to expand unemployment insurance for workers and extend them to independent contractors and self-employed people in the gig economy.

While Hawai‘i is starting to implement its stay-at-home guidance, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has joined with other Members of Congress to call for a nation-wide shelter in place order. She also noted that the entire Hawai‘i Congressional delegation sent a letter to the President emphasizing the urgent need for medical supplies to ensure healthcare workers have the tools and protective gear they need to do their job and do it safely.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also pointed out that some funds made available by the first emergency relief bill that Congress passed are now being allocated to Hawai‘i, such as over $750,000 granted to 14 community health centers across Hawai‘i.

To help ease the burden on those having to pay their mortgages, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and other Members of Congress sent a letter to mortgage lenders to ease mortgage payment collections as well as a provision in the third emergency funding bill currently being negotiated to provide some forbearance on federal government-backed loans.

Lt. Governor Josh Green gave an update on the latest public health status and strongly urged individuals to respect the stay-at-home guidance being issued. He noted that the greater restrictions on travel to and from the state may help significantly hamper the spread of the virus. He also helped address questions about the differences between the coronavirus and influenza as well as how the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads.

Hilton Raethel, President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi, noted that there is still a shortage of appropriate swabs, test kits, and reagents necessary to conduct the amount of COVID-19 screenings. He noted that even though manufacturers are ramping up production, this is still a shortcoming nationwide. Raethel noted that the HAH is working hard to ensure that healthcare workers — both medical and support staff — have the protective gear they need to be able to serve the public as well as ways in which retired healthcare professionals can be engaged, as needed, to help with the public health response.

Jane Sawyer, Hawai‘i District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, discussed what resources are available to small business owners and employees to weather the pandemic. She covered the amounts and rates of loans available to small businesses, including non-profit organizations, and directed listeners to the SBA’s website to sign up for these programs. Sawyer emphasized that engaging the local SBA staff ([email protected] | 808.541.2990) will allow businesses to connect with assistance quickly as the national website is currently strained by the volume of requests from across the country.

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