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Tuesday, March 24, 2020
March 24, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:12 PM :: 1163 Views

Hawaii: First COVID Death was Undiscovered Patient

Ige Statewide 'Stay at Home' Order Thru April 30

Shelter-In-Place ordered for Honolulu and Maui through April 30; Curfew for Kaua‘i through May 3

Imua TMT Panel Discussion -- Live and Interactive

Map: COVID Spreads Across Pacific Islands

UH researcher’s team helps create vaccine for COVID-19

Impeach Harry Kim

Most Aggressive States Against the Coronavirus -- Hawaii Jumps from 46th to 11th

Pine: Cut Blaisdell to Fund Medical Care

Insider Benefits: Senate President arranges testing for Asymptomatic Senators

HTH: … State Sen. Lorraine Inouye of Hilo said she tested negative for the COVID-19 coronavirus and has returned home to Hilo…. She said she was tested Thursday, despite being asymptomatic, and went into self-isolation in Honolulu until she received word of her negative test for the potentially deadly virus….

Inouye, who chairs the Transportation Committee, said Senate President Ronald Kouchi brought a private physician into the state Capitol on Thursday to test her, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chairman of the Ways and Means committee, and others, including Kouchi.

The testing occurred after Sen. Clarence Nishihara, chairman of the Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee, disclosed that he tested positive after displaying symptoms of illness following a late February trip to Las Vegas.

Inouye said Kouchi made the announcement during a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee, of which she’s a member.

“Because of our close contact, working with the senator, on (the news of) his positive test, the concern was there were too many of us who could be infected,” Inouye said. She added the physician was brought in for the tests “at the urging of (Kouchi) and the Department of Health.”

“Most of the senators who were in town did get the test,” she said. “Sens. Kahele, Kanuha and Ruderman already left Honolulu. I was the only Big Island senator that remained in Honolulu.”

Inouye said tests of the senators she’s aware of “came back negative, like me..”….

Neither Kouchi nor the DOH, through its COVID-19 media email address, responded to questions by the Tribune-Herald in time for this story.

Questions for DOH included whether the state agency actually did urge the testing while telling the public to not seek testing unless individuals show symptoms.

Questions for Kouchi included whether he facilitated the testing of himself, Inouye and the others despite what CDC and DOH are telling the public — and whether he thinks asymptomatic elected officials are entitled to testing unavailable to ordinary citizens exposed to the virus who show no symptoms of illness.

A DOH media release on Monday stated, “Individuals who are not experiencing systems do not need to be tested.”

read … Inouye negative for virus, says Senate president arranged testing of asymptomatic senators

3,300 Tested for Corona So Far—77 Positive

SA: … the Chamber has urged mitigating measures, such as rent and mortgage relief, loan forgiveness and expansion of the coronavirus testing. Ige on Monday confirmed that of the 3,300 tests completed, only 77 have come up positive….

read … ‘Stay at home’ rule vital across isles

Guam: 29 Cases, 1 Death

AP: … Federal Public Defender John Gorman requested that U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson be barred from entering the court in Hagatna, Pacific Daily News reported Monday.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ordered that anyone who has traveled outside of Guam over the previous 14 days should not be allowed in the courthouse.

Gorman said Anderson recently returned to the U.S. territory from a vacation trip to Thailand, which the judge's ruling noted Anderson did not deny.

"He has by now, gone into the U.S. Attorneys office and/or met with various U.S. Attorneys staff. He has willfully broken the quarantine and potentially infected that entire office," Gorman wrote in his request.

Anderson did not have contact with any staff members and was prepared to work remotely, he said, adding that he did not travel to a “high-risk country” and does not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.

Guam had 29 confirmed cases of the virus and one death as of Monday, officials said.

read … Judge Bars US Prosecutor From Entering Guam Court Over Virus

9,000 unemployment claims filed over Weekend

HNN: …   Last week Tuesday that number soared to 3,000 but Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the number of filings dropped significantly.

Not because people weren’t trying to file claims, but because the system wasn’t allowing them to do so.

Over the weekend, the numbers soared again, indicating the system was indeed working.

Saturday there were almost 4,000 new filings. Sunday, that number was almost 5,000….

Two new gateway servers and two new web servers were added to help accommodate the wave of filers, and the amount of staff taking phone calls and processing claims was tripled.

The biggest change, though, a form that can be filled out online and sent in electronically, allowing people to file even after hours and on weekends. To access that form: click here….

SA: Hawaii’s unemployment assistance gets a fix

read … After days of stumbles, state fixes system for filing unemployment claims

Bus Ridership Drops Sharply

CB: … So far, service is holding firm to the existing schedule. But as of Friday, TheBus had seen cash fares fall 40% during the crisis, according to Jon Nouchi, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation Services. That mostly reflects the drop in occasional riders and tourists. Most regular riders use a bus pass and don’t pay with cash.

Similarly, Handi-Van — usually one of the busiest paratransit systems in the nation — has seen at least a fourth of its ridership evaporate. That’s largely due to the halt in social programs that heavily rely on the service, Nouchi said.

Normally, TheBus sees just under 200,000 rides a day. DTS is still assessing the overall drop in ridership. It expects TheBus to lose even more passengers in the days and weeks ahead.

Service levels could change if ridership sinks too low….

read … Honolulu Bus Drivers ‘On The Front Lines’ Of The Coronavirus Crisis

Good time to build TMT

SA Editorial: … At the end of this public-health crisis, recovery will take every bit of worthy economic stimulus, which should not be squandered. That's why Hawaii simply cannot allow the Thirty Meter Telescope to slip through its fingers.

Today, as Hawaii descends further into coronavirus' economic pit, worthy shovel-ready projects will be key to helping the state rebound.

TMT surely rises to the top: Project manager Gary Sanders recently noted that the telescope is "shovel-ready, just not shovel-accessible." ….

It's been an ongoing shame that TMT has been kept at bay here. After all, Hawaii's modern astronomy industry was born from disaster: not a viral crisis like today, but from the devastating 1960 tsunamis that decimated the Hilo side and left the Big Island economy in shambles. And there is a proud history of astronomy embedded in Hawaiiana: the early Polynesians were skilled navigators who sailed the open oceans using knowledge of the stars….

Related: OHA in Court: ‘Mauna Kea Must be a Money-Maker for Us’

read … Good time to build TMT

EMS inundated with non-emergency calls

KHON: … “Examples of calls we’ve received… this morning we got a call and she was too scared to leave her apartment and she wanted the paramedics to go and pick up her medication for her,” Chock said.

He said EMS has responded to calls for people who wanted to have their temperature checked and asked how to work thermometers. “Those are not emergencies,” he said….

read … EMS inundated with non-emergency calls, asks public to stay home

Caldwell Refuses to Spend More to Reduce Homelessness

CB: … As Oahu continues to struggle with one of the worst rates of homelessness in the nation, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s final budget proposal as mayor includes little new funding to tackle the problem.

City officials said they’re doing all they can to provide services that include housing vouchers, outreach and hygiene centers.

“We don’t have any increases this year,” said Honolulu Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland. “It’s sustaining all these programs.”

While Witty-Oakland said the city increased operational funding to address homelessness throughout Caldwell’s tenure from practically zero to $10 million, that’s a drop in the bucket of the city’s nearly $3 billion proposed operating budget. It represents one third of one percent. By comparison, the administration budgeted four times that – nearly $40 million – for vacant positions.

In Caldwell’s capital proposal, human services represent 0.8% of the nearly $1.3 billion budget. That’s about $10 million.

“We haven’t been doing enough,” said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. “We’ve got to take care of the people who are living on our streets.”

City officials said if they’re going to increase housing funds, the state needs to boost its financial support of mental and behavioral health services.

“It’s our professional opinion that unless we layer in the health care, we will not be responsibly spending that tax dollar on behalf of the community,” Witty-Oakland said….

Related: Pine: Cut Blaisdell to Fund Medical Care

read … Honolulu’s Spending On Homeless Stagnates Even As Problem Persists

Homeless will be Left to Rot in the Streets

CB: … To help contain the spread of the coronavirus, homeless encampments should not be dismantled by police, and public restrooms should be open and stocked with hygiene products for unsheltered people.

That’s the advice Honolulu received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

(Hint: This method will reduce the COVID infection count and the COVID death count because COVID among the homeless will not be diagnosed and their deaths will be attributed to other causes.  The lower numbers will help Trump look good.)

But as of Monday morning, Mayor Kirk Caldwell had not committed to following that guidance. On Sunday afternoon, the city called off “compassionate disruption” of encampments scheduled for the following day. By Monday afternoon, the mayor suspended these actions going forward except for cases that present an “imminent danger to public health and safety.”

Restrooms in public parks throughout Oahu remain closed and water turned off.

(COVID could be a great opportunity to exploit the homeless’ fear of COVID –perhaps momentarily exceeding their desire for meth-- in order to force them into Single Room Occupancy SRO shelters.  But instead …)

“Our administration is reviewing those recommendations by the CDC,” the mayor said at a Sunday afternoon press conference announcing an emergency “stay at home, work from home” order. “We’ll be taking action based on those guidelines in the near future.

On Monday afternoon, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the suspension of so-called “sweeps.” Public restrooms at city parks will remain closed. …

(Because nobody at Honolulu Hale can visualize building 1,000 8’ x 12’ SROs out of 4x4s and plywood to force the homeless into.)

read … Keep the Homeless Homeless

Hawaii public school cafeteria workers begin free meal service

SA: … Public school cafeteria workers distributed 1,089 breakfasts and 2,603 lunches to children Monday, the first day of the free Grab-and-Go meal service for students on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii island and Kauai.

The meals were offered at 23 schools and will be extended to more schools Tuesday and Wednesday, reaching 39 campuses statewide during spring break, which has been extended through April 6 to stem the spread of COVID-19….

The food is packed in containers and available for pick up outside cafeterias from 7:30 a.m.-8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-noon. Parents or caregivers must bring their child when picking up the meals, under federal requirements….

read … Hawaii public school cafeteria workers begin free meal service

Time For Neighborhood Boards To Become Community Councils

CB: … Originally it was believed that there would be more incorporated cities around the islands and the City Council as we know it today used to be known as a County Board of Supervisors. This would be the governing body that would oversee a number of city councils in a particular county.

As an alternative, the County Board of Supervisors became the Honolulu City Council.

As Oahu grew, the need for local representation and a conduit for resident voices to get to their council member in Honolulu became self-evident. Rather than expanding the City Council system, the neighborhood board was created….

Right now neighborhood boards are looking for ways to update their images to more closely describe their members and areas they represent. The term “community council” is a forward-moving idea, a rich and progressive update to an outdated title….

As Explained: Kahuku and Waimanalo Protests show why Hawaii Needs Municipal Government

read … Time For Neighborhood Boards To Become Community Councils

Cruise ship passengers bused to flights out of Honolulu

SA: … Jewel passenger Edmund Pinto, who is a former Associated Press editor, called Hawaii’s restrictions “over the top” for people who haven’t walked on land since March 11. “The state rules make little sense,” he said via text message while going through customs screening on the ship. “Flights into Honolulu are bringing more risk to your population than this ship.”…

The cruise line chartered at least 10 flights to locations including, Sydney, London and Los Angeles, said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for Hawaii’s Department of Transportation.

On the ship, passengers would go through U.S. customs and be screened by cruise line doctors. Then, they would enter a terminal at the harbor, where they would undergo thermal screening. Anyone with symptoms, such as a fever, would be evaluated by doctors. Passengers with no symptoms would board buses to the airport for their flights, Sakahara said.

“So far there haven’t been any symptomatic passengers at this point,” Sakahara said Monday morning after about four large buses transported passengers to the airport. “At no point will the cruise passengers be with the general public at large.”

The process will continue Tuesday, until all passengers have departed. About 1,000 crew members will remain on the ship, Sakahara said….

read … Cruise ship passengers bused to flights out of Honolulu

100 Years Ago Spanish Flu Killed 2,300 in Hawaii

CB:  … Hunkering down at home during COVID-19 with extra time, I decided to find out how many people in Hawaii were affected by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed more than 50 million people worldwide.

I thought it would be interesting to consider what happened in Hawaii from 1918 to 1920 compared to what’s going on in the islands now as we struggle to get through the new pandemic.

It turns out Hawaii, like the rest of the world, was hit hard by the Spanish flu, also known then as “La Grippe,” with more than 2,300 dying and many thousands of others infected.

(BTW 2,300 would be nearly 1% of the territory’s population in 1920.  Equivalent death toll today: 14,000.  So far COVID-19 has killed just 1 person in Hawaii.)

What surprised me was that Hawaii’s world famous Olympic swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku was among those stricken by the Spanish flu. And for a while, it was touch and go for The Duke, whose influenza turned into life-threatening pneumonia….

AP: Can blood from coronavirus survivors treat the newly ill?

read … Even The Duke Was No Match For The Spanish Flu

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