Shut Hawaii Down - Slow the Spread of COVID-19 and Protect Our Residents
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The global health crisis created by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an emergency unlike the modern world has ever seen. The majority of cases in the State of Hawaii are travel related, although community spread has now been confirmed. States like California and New York has already taken bold measures to attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, Hawaii must do the same.
We urge State of Hawaii Governor David Ige, and the mayors of the four counties, to utilize their powers under HRS Chapter 127 to institute the following actions:
- Have all residents shelter in place for a minimum of fifteen (15) days. One way to accomplish this would be to shut down all travel on state and county roads to everything but essential travel by residents during this period. Essential travel could include trips to the grocery store for food, medical appointments, care for vulnerable family members (i.e., kupuna or individuals who are immunocompromised), and food distribution programs for children, kupuna, and families in need.
- Do everything in your power to shut down travel into the state. We must take bold, radical action to stop additional travel-related cases from coming to the islands. We are all aware of the economic devastation this will cause, but the protection of human life must come first. Also, there are still small rural islands without confirmed cases. We must do everything we can to stop the virus from traveling to those islands. Businesses can recover from this crisis, but the hard truth is that there are people in Hawaii who may contract COVID-19 and be unable to recover. Acting now may save lives.
- Coordinate with federal resources to obtain additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders, medical workers, and essential personnel throughout the state. These essential workers should not be forced to put themselves and their families in harm's way because of a shortage of PPE necessary for them to do their work safely. More masks are urgently needed. More PPE is urgently needed.
- Expand testing. The state should be utilizing every resource available to conduct testing. This includes private and university labs with the resources to provide assistance. We know we have only identified a fraction of the positive cases in Hawaii. We need more tests now.
- Suspend the collection of general excise tax (GET) for the next 90 days. We must do everything we can to help small, local businesses survive this crisis. We should be helping businesses maintain cash flow and encouraging them to keep their workers on payroll as long as possible.
- Grant an extension on the collection of state income tax until July 15. The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have already granted an automatic extension on federal income tax until this date. The state should do the same to provide taxpayers financial relief during this emergency.
- Suspend the collection of property tax for the next 90 days. Families, especially those who may have lost their jobs due to this crisis, need to be able to buy the food and supplies they may need to weather this crisis. While we are aware that the counties need the resources, ensuring the safety and food security of local families should take priority during this emergency.
All of the above actions are within the power of our governor and mayors. Inaction and delayed actions will cost lives. Inaction will further the economic devastation we are already beginning to face. We need true leadership now more than ever.
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