11,000 Hawai‘i Residents Tune in to Rep. Gabbard’s Tele-Town Hall
Nearly 11,000 individuals tuned in to hear Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Dr. Miscovich discuss the state and national coronavirus response and answer questions live.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted the telephone town hall to provide updates on the national and state response to the coronavirus. She was joined by Dr. Scott Miscovich, a physician who has been leading COVID-19 testing efforts and a senior advisor to Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
Testing was the dominant theme of the evening, but the Congresswoman also fielded questions from Hawai‘i residents on topics ranging from protective measures for healthcare workers and medical supplies to social distancing and economic assistance.
*Courtesy Rep.Tulsi Gabbard / Sound Cloud
“Testing is absolutely critical in our fight to defeat the spread of Coronavirus. While testing numbers have increased, both here and across the country, we are nowhere near the scale of testing proven to be effective in countries like South Korea,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
“Dr. Miscovich and his team who are conducting testing across the state are working very hard to improve access to testing so that we can better contain the virus. Just like healthcare professionals across the state, they are in dire need of masks and other personal protective equipment. I and many others are working hard every day to get them what they need so they can take care of all of us,” she said.
Rep. Gabbard began the telephone town hall by giving an overview of the third emergency coronavirus response funding bill to pass Congress and the legislation’s help for Hawai‘i.
Dr. Miscovich gave an update on testing in Hawai‘i and highlighted the importance of testing in helping to “flatten the curve” by identifying cases early, isolating those who are sick, and slowing the pace of infections. Both Rep. Gabbard and Dr. Miscovich stressed the importance of following CDC guidelines and social distancing practices to keep yourselves and your communities safe and healthy.
Rep. Gabbard also answered questions about the CARES Act, noting that social security recipients who do not typically file a tax return will be able to receive their payments directly, and will not have to file a 2019 tax return, as was previously reported.
She highlighted the importance of provisions to expand unemployment insurance for workers and extend them to independent contractors and self-employed people in the gig economy. She also gave an update on the work happening in Congress right now on a forth emergency funding bill, calling for including monthly direct payments to continue until the pandemic is no longer a public health emergency.
Rep. Gabbard has previously hosted two telephone town hall events, on March 18 and March 25, in order to update Hawai ‘i residents with news about what is being done to confront the pandemic and assist those who are being affected by it.
On March 27, the House passed H.R.748 by voice vote. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is the third bill passed by Congress as part of its emergency response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The bill includes direct cash payments to Americans, assistance for those who are out of work due to the outbreak, funding for small businesses, hospitals, and health care workers, and state and local governments. The bill’s funding for state and local governments includes at least $1.2 billion for Hawai‘i.
In March, working with Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation, she sent two letters calling on President Trump to Hawai‘i’s request for medical equipment, supplies and resources for the state.
On March 21, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for an immediate implementation of a 14-day self-quarantine for all passengers arriving in Hawaiʻi, both visitors and returning residents. The state later announced that a self-quarantine requirement would be implemented on March 26, but Rep. Tulsi Gabbard continued to advocate for an immediate implementation. She also sent a letter calling on the President to issue a minimum two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order — a proven, effective solution to slowing the spread of the virus.
Rep. Gabbard voted to pass the first round of emergency funds to address the novel coronavirus. Some Federal funds are already reaching Hawai‘i. The first coronavirus emergency funding bill that she helped pass in Congress has now led to over $750,000 being allocated to 14 community health centers in the district, according to Rep. Gabbard.
Rep. Gabbard voted on March 14 to pass H.R.6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide free testing for COVID-19, two weeks of paid sick leave, up to three months paid family and medical leave, unemployment insurance for furloughed workers, food security for those who rely on food stamps, student meals, senior nutrition plans, and food banks, and increase federal Medicaid funds for local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems.
Rep. Gabbard also introduced H.Res. 897, a resolution that would provide an emergency non-taxable Universal Basic Payment of $1,000 per month to all adult Americans until COVID-19 no longer presents a public health emergency. She was the earliest Member of Congress to introduce legislation for a Universal Basic Income-like payment as a temporary economic stimulus package to directly and immediately help Americans as they weather this crisis.
As the virus was first spreading in different parts of the world, Rep. Gabbard called on the Trump Administration to suspend flights from South Korea and Japan given the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in these countries, until they can guarantee all passengers will be tested prior to boarding flights to the United States.
In order to ensure that any treatment developed for COVID-19 is accessible and affordable, Rep. Gabbard joined a letter to President Trump demanding that pharmaceutical companies are not issued exclusive licenses for the production of such treatments or capitalize on drugs that have been funded by taxpayer dollars.
Rep. Gabbard also wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling for clear guidelines for state and local governments to receive federal reimbursement for the costs they are incurring as part of their response to this public health crisis.