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Hawaii to receive over $3M in federal coronavirus relief for homelessness and prison populations

Hawaii will receive $3.1 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to help detect and prevent potential COVID-19 outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness and prison populations, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said Friday.

“As Hawaii experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, we can’t leave vulnerable communities behind in our efforts to stop the spread of this virus,” Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a news release. “This new federal funding will help make sure homeless shelters and correctional facilities have the resources and support they need to keep people safe and healthy.”

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law on March 11, providing $1,400 in economic stimulus checks to most adults and enhanced child tax credits.

Schatz previously said the coronavirus relief package included over $6.1 billion in estimated funding for Hawaii. Some of that aid is still coming into focus.

Schatz’s office said federal funding provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes $1.44 million in Hawaii for shelters for people experiencing homelessness as well as group homes.

The Hawaii Department of Health “will use this funding to hire workers to coordinate resources, develop strategies, and support community partners to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness and residents of congregate settings including group homes and encampments,” the Hawaii Democrat’s office said. “The funding will also be used to supply these vulnerable communities with COVID-19 tests and other mitigation resources like hand washing stations, hand sanitizer, and masks.”

The funding also includes $1.75 million for federal, state, and local prison populations, according to a statement.

Prisons, jails, and juvenile confinement facilities will be able to to implement COVID-19 diagnostic and screening programs for people who are incarcerated as well as staff, and visitors, Schatz’s office said.

“The funds can also support other mitigation efforts – including COVID-19 contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine strategies, infection control practices, and education and training on ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19 for facility staff and people who are incarcerated or detained,” the statement said.

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