Newsletter: Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha (Kona, Ka‘ū - Senate District 3)

Aloha Senate District 3 ‘Ohana,

From Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha

3rd Senatorial District Map- Kona, Ka‘ū

Hope this note reaches you well. With every day that passes, witnessing our community’s ability to adapt and adjust to this new normal of physical precautions has been both endearing and promising. Last week was a nice milestone for as we still seek engagement, aside from face-to-face interaction, much of our communication as legislators has moved virtually online. On Tuesday, March 31, Big Island Legislators hosted our first Virtual Town Hall. Now, it may not come as a surprise but there may have been disconnects and muffled responses during our 2-hour town hall. Nonetheless, we were excited to be connected, engage via live-stream with constituents and share updates from State and House leadership. As we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, by remaining at home and practicing safeguard measures, this also comes with finding different ways to enjoy the little things in life. Or to thank those who do so much for our community and ask for little in return.   Therefore, mahalo to those who generously continue to dedicate their time away from the safety of their homes: our first responders, healthcare workers, and every single person carrying out essential roles for the safety and well-being of the West Hawai’i community.  We see you. We appreciate you. And, we cannot get through this without you.   Thank you for your sacrifice and commitment.

Me ka haʻahaʻa,Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha

Senate District 3 | Kona, Kaʻū


On Tuesday, March 31, the Hawai’i Island Delegation hosted its first Virtual Town Hall to provide updates and yield questions from our community online. Mahalo to everyone who participated.  From our community, there were a few questions I wanted to highlight and share my response.  Please see the following:  There have been reports of people experiencing homelessness congregating in front of Hope Services and The Friendly Place in Kailua-Kona. What kind of resources are being offered to people experiencing homelessness to ensure they are able to eat, isolate, practice good hygiene, etc.? 

  • As a community resource, Hope Services Hawai’i is working to make homelessness on Hawai’i Island rare, brief, and nonrecurring. With new several new initiatives in lieu of COVID-19, Hope Services’ street medicine outreach team is conducting screening and assessments at encampments, providing prescription delivery, and ensuring continuity of health care treatment plans. 

  • In partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Island, Hope Services participates in the Community Support Meal Initiative to provide free, prepared meals to residents at the homeless shelter in Kailua-Kona.

  • Additionally, several State and County facilities have been reopened to provide residents experiencing homelessness with public access to hygiene facilities and comfort stations.

Families in South Kona from Honaunau to Ocean View, and in North Kona need to drive long distances to pick up meals at schools currently participating in the State of Hawai’i Department of Education (HIDOE) Seamless Summer Option (SSO) program for grab-and-go breakfast and lunch. What is being done to ensure families in rural areas have access to this program? 

  • The HIDOE is implementing the SSO program a few months earlier than scheduled to support keiki and their families during COVID-19. We are excited to announce that Kealakehe Intermediate School and Na’alehu Elementary School have been added to offer grab-and-go locations for breakfast and lunch pickup in Senate District 3. We are still advocating for further opportunities – including potential delivery services – to improve access of this program for rural communities in South Kona. 

Many residents have experienced financial hardships associated with business closing in lieu of COVID-19. What is being done to ensure tenants who cannot make rent are not evicted at this time?

  • According to the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), residents are  still legally obligated to pay rent, however, if experiencing hardships, renters are advised to contact their landlords as soon as possible to discuss delayed or partial payment options. The Judiciary has stated that legal proceedings relating to summary possession or eviction have been postponed until Thursday, April 30. Therefore, no new eviction orders will be issued until after Thursday, April 30. Furthermore, landlords are prohibited from increasing rent during the state of emergency. For further information, please see the DCCA's Landlord-Tenant Code FAQs

Though there are mandatory 14-day self-quarantine periods for all international, domestic, and inter-island travel through Hawaii’s airports, there have been reports of tourists still congregating in public places. What is the general definition of “essential travel” and how are self-quarantine periods enforced? 

  • The general definition of “essential travel” are people who travel to perform essential functions are subject to self-quarantine while traveling, except when performing essential functions. Self-quarantine means travelers must remain in their place of lodging, order food by delivery, and not receive visitors. For general inquiries on what constitutes “essential travel”, please email:

There is a lot of confusion surrounding conflicting recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal, State and County localities. Should I wear a mask in public? Will this help prevent me from catching COVID-19?

  • Yes. When you leave your place of residence, please wear protective covering like a mask over your nose and mouth. The CDC’s initial statement was that masks do not protect against COVID-19.  Over the course of this crisis, the CDC has updated guidelines to encourage wearing any form of protective face, nose, and hands covering to help prevent already infected individuals from further spreading COVID-19.  

I am still being expected to work and I don’t feel safe. Do I qualify for hazard pay? Will I be fired if I refuse to go to work?

  • Unfortunately in Hawai'i, employees do not qualify for hazard pay through increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) urges businesses and employees to facilitate communication regarding updated workplace policies and responsibilities. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), however, requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19 from April 1 to December 31, 2020. For more information on situations that qualify for emergency leave, please see the United States Department of Labor's Families First Coronavirus Response Act fact sheet.

As gas prices are in a free-fall around the world and at large corporations such as Costco, I have noticed some local businesses have not followed suit. Are there protections for price gauging during this time? How do I report price gauging? 

  • During the COVID-19 crisis, prices are legally frozen and businesses that markup prices to that take advantage of desperate customers are considered illegal price gouging. To report illegal price gouging activities, individuals should send a photo of the receipt and other records of sale; name of business, location of the business (county, city, area); and details of the item purchased to:  

Our next Big Island Legislators Virtual Town Hall will be tomorrow, Wednesday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m., a link will be provided through my Facebook page.


On Monday, April 6, HDOA Chair Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser identified United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program that can provide emergency food assistance for commodities ($1.5 million), the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program ($662,000) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ($2.1 million), all through USDA programs.  An additional assistance of $9.1 million is available for providers of specialty crops and for other producers that supply our food distribution system, such as livestock producers. The USDA will be providing details at:  The HDOA identified that Hawai’i farmers have lost 50 to 60 percent of their market in the first week of the stay at home order, therefore, deciding to defer agricultural loan payments throughout the stay-at-home order. Further, Chair Shimabukuro-Geiser reaffirmed the HDOA’s commitment to working with farmers around the State to open additional drive-through farmers’ markets outside of urban Honolulu. The following West Hawai’i farmers’ market remain open for business: Keauhou Farmers’ Market – Keauhou, HI

  • Update: The Keauhou Farmers’ Market has moved operations to online service only. Customers can order online and pick-up curbside at the former Food Basket’s location in Honalo. Hours of operations isbetween 9:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m. every Saturday. Customers are asked to park in the designated area, remain in the vehicle and provide the order number. Staff is equipped with hand sanitizer and will deliver the produce purchased.  Please note, staff are discouraged from any further interaction with customers. For more information, please visit:

For information regarding farmers’ markets in Senate District 3, that remain open for business, please email:


Starting on Monday, April 6, Kealakehe Intermediate School and Na’alehu Elementary School are the latest campuses in Senate Distrct 3 that have been added to the Department of Education (DOE) Seamless Summer Option (SSO) for grab-and-go breakfast and lunch pickup. As a reminder, breakfast will be served from 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. and lunch will be  served from 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Please note, there will be no interaction between DOE staff and the community. Schools in Senate District 3 serving “grab-and-go”:

  • Kahakai Elementary School

  • Konawaena High School

  • Ka’u High and Pahala Elementary School

  • Kealakehe Intermediate School

  • Na’alehu Elementary School 

Click here for more information about the SSO program, including participating schools.


Through a partnership with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and Hawai’i Lodging and Tourism Association (HLTA), the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) has launched its Hotels for Heroes initiative on April 3, 2020. This initiative provides complimentary lodging to first responders and health care workers, to limit potentially spreading COVID-19 to their families or provide more convenient accommodations. Through this program, participating hotels are reimbursed up to $85 a night per room, in the process, creating much-needed hours for displaced workers.


Based on recent guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommendations from Governor Ige, the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19, the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is looking into a statewide policy on the use of wearing masks that covers the face and mouth. As the State moves towards more preventative measures for COVID-19, I encourage everyone to wear a protective mask, covering the face and mouth, to help prevent the spread of infection throughout our community. 

Mahalo to our local designer Kini Zamora for this great tutorial on sewing your own “DIY” fabric mask! As we showcase our Tutu’s old quilts, Papa’s retired aloha shirts and old, matching palaka fabrics from our childhood, let's keep in mind – we are in this together. Every time you step outside of your home with protective covering, you aren’t just taking care of yourself – but also taking care of your ‘ohana.  


For questions about exemptions to mandatory restrictions, email If you would like to volunteer ideas or resources to assist in the response effort, email


Copyright © 2020 Office of Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Office of Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha415 S Beretania St Rm 206 Honolulu, HI 96813-2407

#COVID19 #Coronavirus #CDC #HawaiiSenate #HawaiiSenateMajority #DruMamoKanuha

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Hawai`i State Capitol
415 South Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

Copyright 2019 Hawai`i Senate Majority