State creates new webform for filing unemployment claims

These are some of the other COVID-19 related announcements from Monday.

Unemployment claims

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The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations established a new webform for filing unemployment claims that is available 24/7. Individuals can file new claims or continue existing claims.

“Simplifying the web-based application process and establishing an internal phone bank will allow individuals to file claims on a timelier basis,” said DLIR Director Scott Murakami. “I sincerely apologize for the difficulties our community has encountered with our online site for filing claims, but please do not come into our offices as we need everyone’s help to ensure the safety of the community and our staff.”

The department said “the safest and most efficient way to apply for unemployment benefits is through the new webform at https://huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#/

The state will back-date claims and deposit unemployment benefits for eligible individuals who were unable to file their claims because of the overload on the online filing system.

Individuals filing claims will need an account for depositing funds (savings or checking), financial institution routing number and an account number. To be best prepared, have the contact information and dates of employment for all employers during the past 18 months.

The department is still taking appointments and resetting passwords during normal business hours of 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

To reset a password, call 808-762-5751. For phone appointments, call 808-762-5752

The local unemployment offices remain closed to walk-in and in-person services to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Tax due dates changed

Special tax relief for state income taxpayers similar to the IRS is being provided in response to the COVID-19 emergency, according to the state Department of Taxation.

Individual and corporate income tax returns, individual income tax payments and corporate income tax payments for 2019 due from April 20-June 20 are extended to July 20.

Taxpayers entitled to a refund or pay the 2019 income tax due by July 20 receive an automatic extension to file the associated return by Oct. 20.

Additional action is not needed by income taxpayers. The department is making the necessary system changes for these new due dates.

Individual income taxpayers expecting refunds are encouraged to file as soon as possible. Hawaii residents can file Form N-11 (Hawaii resident income tax) for free using Hawaii Tax Online (hitax.hawaii.gov).

Filing and payment dates for all non-income taxes (withholding, general excise, transient accommodations, etc.) are unchanged.

Support UH students

The University of Hawaii Foundation and University of Hawaii established two new funds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help those on UH campuses.

The Urgent Student Relief Fund was created to assist students who find themselves in urgent financial distress. The usual pressures of finishing the semester are exacerbated by the pandemic’s upheaval of routines and constant concern for family and friends.

Financially, many UH students who are already living on a shoestring are even closer to the edge. Students relying on jobs for tuition are being laid off. Others need child care as schools temporarily closed, access to computers as classes moved online, transportation when living arrangements shift, and food when their meals off campus may be in doubt.

“The type of assistance our students need is evolving, but UH is ready to respond,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Hae Okimoto.

The COVID-19 and Infections and Emerging Disease Research Fund will help UH researchers who are working to detect, prevent and cure COVID-19 and other infectious and emerging diseases.

Scientists at the John A. Burns School of Medicine are expanding ongoing development of heat-stable vaccines for viruses, to include coronaviruses causing COVID-19.

The UH scientists also are working on the development of processes for rapid screening and surveillance of COVID-19.

“Our donors and community want to be part of the global solution,” said Tim Dolan, UH Vice President of Advancement and UH Foundation CEO. “As the nonprofit that raises funds to support UH students and research, we are committed to supporting our community in every way we can. We are all in this together.”

The public can donate to either fund at www.uhfoundation.org/give/giving-opportunity/covid-19#donateBox.

Assist Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Hawaiian &Pacific Islands is requesting donations of hygiene products as it ramps up to provide emergency disaster services in the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Supplies requested include hand sanitizer, paper products, cleaning products, face masks and other personal protective equipment. Additional needs will be identified in the coming days. Monetary donations also continue to be needed to assist the response efforts.

“It’s imperative we build up our supplies of personal protective equipment and hygiene products as we continue to assist the ever-growing demand for services in our communities,” said Victor Leonardi, incident commander for The Salvation Army Hawaiian &Pacific Islands Division. “We also have an urgent need for monetary donations to help us secure food and supplies.”

The agency announced Thursday that all Salvation Army officers were appointed to emergency disaster service roles in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, all Salvation Army facilities shifted to emergency response mode and are being made available to governmental authorities for use as quarantine centers, housing for medically fragile individuals, food distribution locations, coronavirus testing and any other services as needed.

Monetary donations to support the efforts can be made at hawaii.salvationarmy.org.

Food vendors step up

State Senate President Ronald Kouchi is working with Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and adjutant general for the state Department of Defense, to coordinate the distribution of food from vendors who have excess inventory because of the shutdown of restaurants throughout the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release, the senator thanked some of the companies that are “willing to step up and help our community during these challenging times.”

The companies involved are Y. Hata &Co., Hawaii Food Products, Armstrong Produce, HPC Foods, Manson Products Co., Ham Produce and Seafood, Finest Food Co., D. Otani Produce, Joe Kim’s Kimchi, Sysco, Watanabe Vegetable Processing, Kula Produce Co., Esaki’s Produce, Hilo Products, Cal-Kona Produce, Farm Link Hawaii, Sustainable Moloka‘i and Kilauea Community Agricultural Center.

Emergency child care offered

Kama‘aina Kids is opening up a preschool site in Hilo for children in kindergarten through fifth grade of essential employees who do not have access to child care.

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Limited space is available. Call 315-0842 to register.

The preschool will be at the Hilo Woman’s Club, 7 Lele St. in Hilo.

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