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NHPI 3R Statement – August 13, 2020 pg. 1
NATIVE HAWAIIAN & PACIFIC ISLAND COMMUNITIES IN HAWAII CALL FOR UNITY AND COLLABORATION
“Every day they sit on these issues…more people will die”
August 13, 2020 Contact: Kim Ku‘ulei Birnie 808-383-1651
On behalf of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response, Recovery, and Resiliency Team,
we are calling out and calling to task our County and State Government officials, which includes offices
within the Hawaii State Department of Health, to take this pandemic seriously and push aside the politics.
Our government leaders continue to be slow and effective in their responses to this crisis. They are slow to
make critical public health decisions. They are quick to point the finger and pass the responsibility onto
other agencies and community organizations. They use the bureaucratic red tape they created as an excuse
for inaction. In short, they have failed the citizens of Hawai‘i. And, most negatively impacted by this failure
are our Pacific Islander communities. One in every three cases is a Pacific Islander.
We need our Government officials at the county and state levels to get their act together. We need strong,
honest, and transparent leadership. We need them to work together in an organized and expeditious
manner. We need them to quickly deploy the monies from the CARES Act and other resources to drastically
and quickly increase the number of contract tracers in our communities, and these contact tracers need to
come from our Pacific Islander communities to be effective. They need to ensure that people have both the
physical and financial means to quarantine effectively should they need it – this means a physical place to
quarantine and income for two weeks while under quarantine and ensuring they have a job to return to.
They need to employ and deploy community health workers from the communities most impacted, such as
Pacific Islanders, to work with families and communities in protecting themselves and stopping the spread.
Our Government leaders and agencies need to be held accountable and faithfully carry out the duties
imposed upon them.
Each day they sit on these issues, more and more people are getting COVID-19, more and more people are
being hospitalized, and more people will die. These are our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Our
leaders can do better because we deserve better.
The Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Hawai‘i COVID-19 Response, Recovery & Resilience Team (NHPI 3R)
was established in May 2020, in alignment with the national NHPI Response Team, to improve the
collection and reporting of accurate data, identify and lend support to initiatives across the Hawaiian
NHPI 3R Statement – August 13, 2020 pg. 2
Islands working to address COVID-19 among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and unify to establish a
presence in the decision-making processes and policies that impact our communities.
The priority issues to our communities are:
• Contact tracing:
o Expedite the hiring of all the contract tracers trained (400 reported). The handful that are currently
hired are overwhelmed and inadequate in number to be effective. DOH not to hire as employees but
contract with established community providers
o Change the eligibility criteria for contact tracers to include persons with a high school degree plus
experience in community health
o Hire Pacific Islanders from the communities most affected to conduct education outreach and
contact tracing (or to work with contact tracers). They have the cultural and linguistic knowledge to
be effective in these communities
o Expand CTs to allow for other training opportunities (Pearson and John Hopkins)
o Identify and train to establish state-wide community-based contact tracing teams. Ask for $500K-
• Personal Protective Equipment:
o Masks and sanitizers need to be distributed to communities most affected and whose economic
situation makes it difficult for them to secure on their own.
• Assisting with quarantining:
o Provide free housing to people needing to be quarantined because many live in large
multigenerational homes that make it impossible to isolate themselves in that home and their
economic situation makes it impossible for them to afford a short-term rental
o Also, guarantee 2-weeks pay for those who need to quarantine and that employers will hold their
o Why participate in tracing if someone will be out of work and income for that time and possibly out
of a job
o SNAP benefits: If they are quarantined, no grocery delivery services currently accept SNAP cards
online for payment. In the long term, the state needs to push grocery stores to accept SNAP for
grocery delivery. In the short term, those affected need to be given gift cards to allow them to
purchase food and cover delivery costs
o Targeted but culturally appropriate PSAs and other educational materials are needed. Already
developed by other PI national partners and need to use those to eliminate additional costs
o PI community health workers need to be hired to work directly with PI families, communities, and
organizations that work with PI communities and be included in the tracing team as an critical
component (if CHW are not trained as CTs)
NHPI 3R Statement – August 13, 2020 pg. 3
NHPI 3R Co-Leads:
J. Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula
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