Working from home may be the new normal for many, but for a talented segment of the workforce, it is not an option. Now, more than ever, professionals with disabilities are being called on to perform vital work in response to COVID-19.
Manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) has become a priority for many individuals with disabilities. Others continue to be a part of janitorial teams, which means possibly entering buildings with known exposures to the virus.
Right now, janitors — including those with disabilities — are putting the safety of others above their own. Their unwavering commitment is helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Individuals with disabilities perform these jobs with pride every day, regardless of the risks.
Prior to the pandemic, people performing these vital jobs were often overlooked. Now they are considered essential personnel. As communities work to provide PPE to those who need it most, let’s not forget our janitorial staff. Most importantly, let’s give a round of applause to this essential workforce, now and in the future.
President and CEO, SourceAmerica Patrick Gartside
Executive director, Work Now Hawaii
More testing needed to protect Kalihi residents
To date there has been no widespread testing in Kalihi, which has the highest concentration of housing in the entire state.
Kalihi is home to working families, including our immigrant population, whose members are on the front lines battling COVID-19 in health care, hotels, retail, restaurants and care homes. Many constituents are economically disadvantaged or homeless, and can’t get medical care except at community health centers.
Recently, the state Department of Health squelched the city’s plans to conduct testing in our community health centers and the Ka‘aahi Street temporary quarantine facility. The DOH didn’t offer any alternatives to the city, despite local labs having the capacity to do more testing — up to 3,000 a day. The fact is COVID-19 is spreading in all communities, and if we don’t start testing more people equitably, then all of us are going to get pounded by the second wave.
Honolulu City Councilman, District 7
Public workers lose out to biggest corporations
Hawaii’s public workers perform all of the essential services and tasks that people take for granted as always available to them.
Some are obvious, such as first responders: police, firefighters, nurses, EMTs, sheriffs and lifeguards. But there are also what I like to call the forgotten front lines. They are the thousands of government workers who process your tax filings, your drivers’ licenses, building permits and restaurant health compliance ratings, check on licensing standards for preschools and care homes, and staff the public schools.
Their pay is already low; they cannot afford pay cuts and furloughs. The biggest corporations always get massive bailouts but the working people of this state and country keep getting asked to do more for less. Surely there is a way to avoid cutting their pay.
People ignoring health and safety restrictions
Aloha spirit? More like ainokea!
As a kupuna, I had to shop and included a meal to support a nearby restaurant. The lack of compliance to health and safety restrictions was shameful. One person in the market was not wearing a mask, and one-way aisle signage to enhance distancing was ignored, causing close contacts.
Of those out running, walking, biking or walking their dogs, three had masks — none on their faces. The Tantalus trailhead parking areas overflowed with cars and people — again, none wearing masks, even those crammed at the lookout.
If this is how Hawaii disrespects each other, please bring the tourists back. People can go back to work and service them. This will reduce their ability to be out spreading it to those trying to comply and stay safe. They can then choose between safer behavior or affording health care needs for themselves and their family.
‘Essential’ standard arbitrary, ill-defined
This latest on-again, off-again flap over whether florists should be allowed to open on a contactless delivery basis is ridiculous. Is Gov. David Ige trying to singlehandedly kill off Hawaii’s economy?
The problem is that businesses are being judged as “essential” or “non- essential,” categories that are arbitrary and ill-defined.
Instead, businesses should be judged only on whether or not they can operate in a safe manner, either by careful attention to social distancing, or by contactless deliveries.
Every retail and service business that can operate safely with these restrictions should be allowed to reopen. Immediately.
We need hair salons more than manicures
I need a haircut now. It has been three months since the last one. Shops can be open with everyone wearing masks, a limit of two customers, and stylists six feet apart.
Forget manicures and pedicures. Please consider this option for opening hair salons.