Governor: Staying at home the only way to beat COVID-19

  • IGE

Gov. David Ige on Wednesday recognized the challenges faced by Hawaii residents during the statewide lockdown aimed at slowing the progression of COVID-19, and discussed ongoing efforts to provide relief to those affected by the ongoing pandemic.

“Today is Day One of the statewide stay-at-home order, and I’m fully aware of how this mandate is a challenge and burden for everyone across Hawaii,” he said during a Wednesday news conference streamed on Facebook Live. “I cannot stress enough the importance of staying at home or in your place of residence. This is the only way we’re going to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii.

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“I know our community understands why this order is necessary; however, it impacts our neighbors who have lost their jobs and businesses that have closed their doors.”

Among the efforts to aid those affected by the pandemic, the Hawaiian Homes Commission has approved the deferral of mortgage payments for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands direct loans for six months beginning in April.

According to a DHHL news release, lessees or borrowers who might need time beyond the six-month deferral can request assistance from the department.

“We can already see there will be a long-term economic impact from the COVID-19 crisis, and the department felt it was important to act swiftly in the interest of beneficiaries during this uncertain time,” Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman William Alia said in the release. “This action affects over 1,200 direct loans administered through DHHL. Anyone with a loan through a private institution is encouraged to contact their lender immediately should you be experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The state Department of Human Services also is “taking aggressive actions to protect the health and safety of the individuals and families we serve by maintaining essential services to help the people of Hawaii during the COVID-19 crisis,” Director Pankaj Bhanot said during the news conference.

The department is working in collaboration with its partners to ensure uninterrupted services to residents currently receiving services, and all future applicants.

That, however, is being done in a modified manner, he said, including limiting face-to-face contact with the public to protect the health and safety of everyone.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Hawaii also will extend its deadline to apply for admissions to UH-Hilo, UH-Manoa and UH-West Oahu until Aug. 1.

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“For parents and students who are now thinking about staying home for college, you can’t beat the opportunities across the University of Hawaii system,” UH President David Lassner said in a news release, adding that there is something for everyone at UH — from graduating high school seniors, to students on the mainland wanting to return home, to adults looking for improved economic opportunity through a career change.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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