In brief: June 21, 2021

  • The Pride of America is anchored in March 2020 in Kailua Bay as visitors disembark a tour bus before catching a tender back out to the vessel. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered its travel warning for cruise ships Wednesday, recommending only unvaccinated passengers avoid cruise travel. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

Club offers small business microgrant for women

The Zonta Club of Hilo is accepting grant applications to provide funding for women-owned businesses on Hawaii Island. Women who are seeking financial support to start up or improve upon a business are encouraged to apply.


Applications are available online at and are being accepted via email to by midnight or by mail postmark on July 31.

The Pay It Forward program of the local chapter of Zonta was launched in 2014 with an initial generous donation from Nancy Cabral, a Zonta member and owner of Day-Lum Rentals &Management Inc. Cabral’s desire was to encourage other women to achieve financial independence and business success. Since its inception, many other generous donors have contributed to these microgrants for women entrepreneurs.

The program goal is to help women in our community start up or expand a business through a microgrant intended to give a helping hand. The grant will be for up to $2,000. Awardees are required to submit a written report after one year, and will be asked to present the report to the club. Awardees are encouraged to “Pay It Forward” when they are able.

“Encouraging women to succeed in their goals to provide a better community for Hawai‘i Island is an important part of the mission of our club. The Pay It Forward Program is one of the many programs our club offers to empower women and girls through service and advocacy,” said Zonta Club of Hilo President Julie Engelhardt.

Applications may also be requested by mailing: Zonta Club of Hilo Pay It Forward Program, PO Box 1915, Hilo, HI 96721-1915.

The Zonta Club of Hilo is a member of Zonta International, whose mission is to empower women through service and advocacy. Hilo Club projects include Fashion Frenzy, Magnificent Me Girls Conference, college scholarships, and Amelia Earhart Girls in Engineering Day.

For more information, visit or email

CDC’s travel warning for cruise ships eases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered its travel warning for cruise ships Wednesday, recommending only unvaccinated passengers avoid cruise travel.

The COVID-19 risk for unvaccinated passengers on cruise ships is now set at Level 3, the second highest, down from Level 4. Previously, the CDC recommended all passengers avoid cruise travel.

The changes come as the cruise industry prepares to restart from U.S. ports in the coming weeks. The first test cruise was scheduled for Sunday — Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas ship from PortMiami — and the first revenue cruise for June 26 — Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge ship from Port Canaveral.

“Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high,” the CDC said.

The agency recommends that all cruise travelers get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before their trip and three to five days after their trip. Unvaccinated passengers should self-quarantine for seven days after a cruise, even if they test negative. If they do not get tested, they should self-quarantine for 10 days after a cruise, the agency said.

The COVID-19 vaccine is a key component of getting the cruise industry restarted. No cruise ships have left from U.S. ports since March 2020 after outbreaks and deaths on several ships forced the industry to shut down.

US jobless claims rose last week for first time since April

Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance rose slightly for the first time since late April, likely a temporary blip for a labor market that’s otherwise improving as the economy reopens.

Initial claims in regular state programs increased by 37,000 to 412,000 in the week ended June 12, Labor Department data showed Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 360,000 applications.

The jump in claims was concentrated in three states — Pennsylvania, California and Kentucky. Even with the increase, layoffs have declined significantly in recent months as health concerns ebb and businesses ramp up hiring. Economists forecast continued improvement in the labor market through the end of the year, with an expectation that the unemployment rate will fall below 5% by the end of the fourth quarter.

Meantime, Michigan and Alabama posted the largest declines in initial claims.

Continuing claims for ongoing state benefits were little changed at 3.5 million the week ended June 5. Initial applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed and gig workers rose last week.


Federal Reserve officials are watching for signs that employment is “inclusive and broad-based.” At the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting Wednesday, Chair Jerome Powell said the pace of improvement in the labor market has been uneven.

“Factors related to the pandemic, such as care-giving needs, ongoing fears of the virus, and unemployment insurance payments appear to be weighing on employment growth,” Powell said. “These factors should wane in coming months, against a backdrop of rising vaccinations, leading to more rapid gains in employment.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email