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Kokua Line: Hawaii’s jobless await governor’s decision on whether to seek Trump Administration bonus

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Question: What is the holdup on the extra money for unemployment? Some states are getting it already!

Answer: Gov. David Ige said he would announce soon whether Hawaii will apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program that President Donald Trump created by executive order on Aug. 8. States have until Sept. 10 to apply, but the governor said Thursday that he would announce his decision well before that, within the next few days.

This program provides $300 a week in federal funding on top of a state’s unemployment payment. Numerous readers have pointed out that although that’s less than the $600 weekly federal “plus-up” that expired in late July, it’s better than no bonus at all — especially as the weeks tick by with no agreement among the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and White House to revive the previous federal benefit at any amount. For now, people out of work in Hawaii are left with $5 to $648 a week in standard Unemployment Compensation or $263 to $648 a week in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Ige said he’s committed to providing struggling Hawaii residents more support, but that he also has lingering questions, including clarifying with the U.S. Department of Labor and Federal Emergency Management Agency that participating states will have flexibility to disperse funds to the broadest pool of people who have lost work due to COVID-19.

“Part of the question is about which claimants would be eligible,” he said, adding that he’s awaiting additional federal guidance before finalizing and announcing his decision.

The New York Times reported Thursday, citing a conference call with FEMA and USDOL officials, that 11 states have already been approved for three weeks of LWA funding, including one — Arizona — that began paying claimants this week — a total of $96 million to 320,000 people. Another eight states have applied, it said.

The president’s order caps funding at $44 billion, which the federal officials said should be enough to cover about four to five weeks of benefits, the Times said. It quoted the officials as saying that most states were expected to take part and that none had been rejected.

William Kunstman, a spokesman for Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the department is prepared to implement the program if Hawaii does apply, but deferred further comment to the governor’s office. FEMA and the USDOL have greatly helped states prepare to participate, he said.

FEMA has posted an FAQ about the program at

Q: Please clarify whether Kaiser members can get tested for COVID- 19 at the drive-thru clinics.

A: “Kaiser Permanente members in Hawaii are able to be tested for COVID-19 at any outside laboratory. This means that our members are also able to participate in the community drive-thru testing sites that are being coordinated by the City & County of Honolulu. Members should show their Kaiser Permanente member card to the provider at the time testing is done and request that the provider submit a claim to us for payment,” said Amy Whited, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente.

Honolulu County has announced three drive-thru testing sites for this weekend:

>> Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Geiger Community Park, conducted by Kalihi Kai Urgent Care

>> Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kakaako Waterfront Park, conducted by Premier Medical Group

>> Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wahiawa District Park, conducted by Kalihi Kai Urgent Care


Auwe to the customers in a grocery story picking their way through the stacks of corn on sale. I watched as they picked up each ear, then peeled back the husk to see the condition of the corn. Then they threw back into the bin those that they did not want. I don’t want corn they have handled. I look, and take what I touch and leave. This also goes for other unbagged vegetables. — L.S.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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