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Wednesday, March 25, 2020
March 25, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:59 PM :: 1127 Views

Green 'Fired' from State COVID Response in Dispute Over Mass Testing

Corona Towers: Council Hides Behind Quarantine, Gives Development Deal to Convicted Felon

90 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases in Hawai‘i: 14 New Cases

Hawaii Doctors Battle State Health Department Over COVID-19 Testing

CB March 25, 2020: … Lt. Gov. Josh Green and doctors call for more tests to stem a wave of patients while the state health department advocates conserving testing capacity….

The doctors who want more screening say an expansive testing program can show who has the disease and how it spreads and thus stop it. They are calling for widespread screening of people showing symptoms and even, in some cases, people not showing any. The most recent research on the virus shows that about 80% of cases are mild or asymptomatic.

The health department is calling for a far more conservative approach based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its policy is to not test some people who have mild symptoms and can recover at home in isolation – to save test kits and other supplies that might be needed should the outbreak worsen.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: CDC guidelines serve to reduce the number of COVID diagnoses and the number of deaths attributed to COVID.  This makes Hawaii look cleaner, easing the way for a tourism recovery.)

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is also a medical doctor and in the camp calling for more testing, said the health department’s approach is misguided.

“You cannot allow a wave of COVID-19 cases to sweep over the state all at once because we’ll have massive fatalities if we do,” Green said.

After speaking out on the testing issue, Green has been banned from the state’s COVID-19 response task force….

LINK: Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 holds second meeting today

RELATED: Green Ouster Related to COVID-19 screening of Senators?

RELATED: Hawaii: The Road to Corona Recovery Leads Through Japan

read … Hawaii Doctors Battle State Health Department Over COVID-19 Testing

MDs Prescribing Corona Treatments

CB: … When Ruth Krukar, 90, went to Longs Drugs last week to pick up a prescription refill of the antibiotic she takes to prevent lung infection, a pharmacist informed her that her $20 copay could soon jump to $200.

That’s because demand for the medication azithromycin, best known by the brand name Zithromax Z-Pak, is increasing in response to preliminary findings that the drug may help treat coronavirus patients.

Commonly prescribed to treat respiratory infections, Z-Pak could potentially also help reduce the duration of the COVID-19 virus when taken in tandem with an anti-malarial drug, according to a French study published last week.

“I emailed my five kids and said, ‘Yippee-yay, I’ve been on the right medication for a change!'” said Krukar, a retired research librarian who lives in Hawaii Kai with her husband….

There is some preliminary evidence, for example, that the antimalarial drugs chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine can reduce the symptoms of COVID-19 in patients infected with the virus.

Although the FDA issued a statement affirming that the drug hydroxychloroquine is not approved for coronavirus treatment, President Trump last week publicly overstated the drug’s potential to treat coronavirus patients, claiming that there’s been “very, very encouraging results.”  As a result, the drug’s supply suddenly faltered for American patients who depend on it to treat other diagnoses.

A ProPublica report found that Lupus patients who use the same medication to combat the effects of their illness have been faced with shortages….

Doctors are also stockpiling these unproven drugs for themselves and their family members, and they’re prescribing them to patients…

(Most of this article is whining about how many drugs are now in short supply because patients are using them.  Here’s the solution: CRANK UP PRODUCTION.)

WSJ: Chloroquine is a synthetic form of quinine, a centuries-old compound for malaria that is found in small amounts in products such as tonic water

Related: Actor Daniel Dae Kim says Trump’s malaria drug was ‘secret weapon’ in 4-day coronavirus recovery

read … Coronavirus Could Send The Cost Of Your Prescription Drug Soaring

Nearly 20,000 unemployment claims filed in a single day

HNN: … As tourism comes to a standstill and businesses close, some 19,534 people filed for unemployment in Hawaii on Monday ― setting a single-day record.

While the number is jaw dropping, it does show the changes the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations made to the system over the weekend are finally working.

Earlier, the system was overwhelmed and thousands reported being unable to file claims.

The online form that launched Monday is working much more smoothly.

Director Scott Murakami says he is now trying to hire 23 more people in the next week or two to prevent another bottleneck in the next step, “We’re setting up our next line of defense which is actual claims processing. Part of that is that the learning process takes a long time."

The additional 23 would bring the claims office up to 68, last week Monday it was at just seven workers….

SA: Major hotels close across the state; job losses mount to more than 40,000 since mid-February

PBN: DLIR: More than 40,000 Hawaii residents have filed unemployment claims in March

read … Nearly 20,000 unemployment claims filed in a single day

Hawaii Unemployment System Housed on 30-Year Old Computer

SS: … Hawaii Chief Information Officer Douglas Murdock told StateScoop that his state typically receives fewer than 100 new claims for unemployment benefits on a typical day. But in recent weeks, Hawaii, which greeted 10 million tourists last year, has started logging thousands of new unemployment claims daily.

“Tourism feeds Hawaii and if tourism’s not here, we’re going to have to find other ways,” Murdock said. “A lot of people are going to be relying on that unemployment insurance capability, so we’ve got to make it more robust.”

Hawaii’s unemployment eligibility system is about 30 years old and lives on a mainframe, Murdock said. It usually works without interruption, he said, but recently the old system and the website residents use to file claims have had trouble connecting with each other under the increased load…

read … States spend big on remote-working tech, brace for unemployment

COVID Solution: Will Supreme Court Order lots and lots of Criminals out onto the Streets?

TGI: …  The Hawai’i Office of Public Defenders has petitioned the Hawai’i Supreme Court to release inmates convicted of misdemeanors or of parole technicalities through the use of grants, pardons and reprieves to lower facility population and potentially prevent a community spread of COVID-19.

Kaua’i County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar endorses the OPD’s petition. Last week, his office filed several motions to have low risk inmates removed from the Kaua’i Community Correctional Center for supervised release.

In his own response sent Tuesday to Gov. David Ige, Kollar urged officials to provide emergency releases to low-risk inmates with less than five years on their sentence with underlying health conditions like heart disease or respiratory conditions and those who are over 60.

Kollar’s office reviewed inmate logs at the KCCC and filed nine motions for inmate release. The medium-sized community custody facility has 138 inmates. No inmates have met criteria for COVID-19 in the state, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety.

The OPD petition is signed by the state’s Public Defender James Tabe, Attorney General Clare Connors and prosecuting attorneys across the state, and included a Consent Decree filed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey from earlier this week which granted similar relief….

(How many of the released criminals will end up homeless and then get COVID from the other bums?)

read … COVID-19 and the incarcerated

Homeless Suddenly Willing to Accept Shelter After Bathrooms Close in Parks, Restaurants

CB: … After a wave of criticism, Honolulu announced on Tuesday that it will reopen city park restrooms it closed last week – reversing a move that defied federal guidelines and left Oahu’s over 2,000 unsheltered homeless people with few hygiene options during a pandemic.

Beginning tomorrow, city bathrooms will again be open, the city said in a news release. The facilities could close again temporarily for “maintenance, cleaning, and/or renovations,” the notice said.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration made the announcement amid immense public pressure and after homeless advocates called a press conference to voice opposition to the decision. The news left community members somewhat relieved but confused.

“I’m glad to hear that,” said James Koshiba, a volunteer with the nonprofit Hui Aloha. “The question that leaves me with was why the bathrooms had to be closed in the first place.”

Honolulu Housing Director Marc Alexander said on Monday that the bathrooms were closed because “we’re trying to encourage people not to congregate in parks.” He cited the challenge of keeping the facilities sanitary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping public bathrooms open 24 hours a day and stocked with hygiene materials amid the coronavirus outbreak.

(CLUE: Trump looks better if Corona numbers are lower.  Keeping the homeless homeless will hide Corona cases and deaths.)

With bathrooms boarded up, homeless people like Steven Samuel De Gruy have had a hard time finding a restroom. He tried to visit HONU, the city’s homeless navigation center, but couldn’t find it. De Gruy, a disabled veteran who goes by “Zorro,” said he’s been trying in vain to contact public officials….

(Better Idea: Lets exploit this opportunity to reduce homelessness by using the powers of the emergency order to quick-build 1,000 SRO shelters and FORCE the homeless into them.)

read … Honolulu To Reopen Public Bathrooms, State Keeps Theirs Closed

Kim administration studying stay-at-home order for possible exemptions

HTH: … Hawaii County’s legal department is combing through a stay-at-home emergency proclamation that Gov. David Ige signed Monday, looking for interpretations that best fit the Big Island, said Mayor Harry Kim on Tuesday.

Kim said he had asked Ige for a statewide order to create more consistency, and he and the other three county mayors worked with the governor to draft the language. Not all of his proposed exemptions made their way into the final product, Kim said, leading him to direct Assistant Corporation Counsel Renee Schoen to go through the document to see how much flexibility the county has in interpreting the order.

“Unfortunately, the proclamation had already been sealed,” Kim said, “and we will try to see if we can be flexible in interpretation to make sure, first of all, we do not jeopardize the people of Hawaii Island — but asking for exceptions on things that would not jeopardize the island.”

Counties can make laws stricter than state laws, but not less stringent, under the state constitution.….

read … Kim administration studying stay-at-home order for possible exemptions

Panic Monger Hooser: Stay Calm over COVID, ‘This too shall pass’

TGI: … I especially appreciate our (Kauai) Mayor has not overtly criticized or publicly “piled on” Governor Ige, second-guessing as to whether or not his decision-making has been aggressive enough. Whether or not such criticism is deserved, there is a point when this type of conversation is not helpful and in fact, is counter-productive. I believe that we crossed this point a few days ago….

The truth is the economic disruption while severe and extremely disruptive is temporary. The heartbreaking reality for those perhaps already stretched to their limit before the arrival of Covid-19 is that even if temporary, they will get pushed over the edge and lose everything. But for most of us, I believe we are in the midst of temporary hardship. An incredibly stressful hardship, but temporary – and necessary for the greater good.

For what it’s worth, I believe the worse will be over relatively soon. Approximately 3 months after the first outbreak, new cases of Covid-19 in China have been dropping slowly but steadily over the past few weeks. Restaurants in the hardest-hit areas are starting to reopen and economic activity is slowly restarting.

Following this pattern, we should likewise be turning the corner in 3 months or so. At some point, the hotels, restaurants and related businesses will then gradually start reopening. Airlines will begin reinstating previously canceled flights and our local economy will start climbing back to health. The economic recovery will take some time, but a year from now will feel much more like normal, than the uncertainty and stress we are all feeling now.

… during the coming blur of actions and activity that accompany all disasters and the subsequent rush to recovery, we must always remember three things: This too shall pass, the sun always comes up the next day and we are all in this together….

(Summary: Mindless panic is reserved for fake crises such as Superferry, GMOs, pesticides.  When the crisis is real, we must stay calm.)

Failed Hysteria: Proposed Aquarium Fishing Ban Appears Dead In The Legislature

read … Covid-19, County leadership and moving forward

Hawaii health officials retract report of death attributed to coronavirus

SA: … Hawaii health officials said today they are reevaluating the first death that was attributed to the coronavirus.

“There apparently were some procedural issues with regard to the test,” said Health Department Director Bruce Anderson.

He said the test was done by a private laboratory and the results were determined to be inconclusive.

“We’re wanting to run that test again,” Anderson said at a news conference today. “We should have conclusive results on that before the end of today.”…

UPDATE: Not Caused by Corona

read … Hawaii health officials reevaluating state’s 1st death attributed to coronavirus

Emergency Medical Services makes public call: Don’t use 911 if you think you have COVID-19

KITV: …residents are calling 911 thinking they have coronavirus, but most of the time they’re not life-threatening.

"We're seeing on average about 70 calls a day specifically for COVID-90," said Honolulu EMS Assistant Chief of Operations Korey Chock. "A single digit percentage probably is life threatening."

It takes time and resources to answer each 911 call -- a delay first responders say are putting lives at risk.

Another concern? Their supply of protective goggles, masks, gloves and gowns.

“The more calls we go on, the more personal protective gear we have to use,” Chock said.

EMS has 21 ambulance units to save the lives of 1 million residents and thousands of tourists on Oahu.

“We're asking people if if you feel that you have virus-like symptoms, and it's not life threatening, find other means to get your questions answered, rather than utilizing the ambulance,” EMS Paramedic Supervisor Laura Kumamoto said.

Other resources you can contact? Your doctor, clinics, the Queen’s Medical Helpline at 808-691-2619, and 211….

read … Emergency Medical Services makes public call: Don’t use 911 if you think you have COVID-19

City Makes Parking Available in front of Take-out Restaurants

KITV: … Mayor Caldwell and the Department of Transportation Services' first initiative outlined in the city's press conference on Tuesday was designating parking stalls for restaurants, drive-thru and pick up.

Businesses with metered parking in front of them can obtain up to three bags from the City.

The Department of Transportation Services says no parking will be allowed in stalls designated with the special bag. The stalls with the bag are intended to allow customers to drive up to their restaurants….

read … Mayor Caldwell and DTS outline initiatives and changes to transportation programs

Kahuku? PUC to Discuss Windfarm Setbacks Today

IM: …In recent years the State Legislature has authorized an increasing number of facilities on agricultural land in general, and prime agricultural land in particular.

Agriculturally based fossil fuel power plants and renewable energy systems have escaped review because of a lack of laws and extremely lax enforcement.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO, MECO, and HELCO) are currently evaluating 76 renewable energy projects.

It is of paramount importance that a method be developed to incorporate rural communities into an evaluation of where diverse types of projects are proper and what the setback requirements should be to avoid a lengthy regulatory fight.

HECO needs to learn from Na Pua Makani and Hu Honua BioEnergy, two on-going legal fights started in 2008.

The alternatives are legal fights at the Public Utilities Commission using only electronic documents that can be filed from rural communities. The coronavirus did away with the costly need to make multiple paper copies sent by first-class mail.

Today the Public Utilities Commission is hosting a day-long meeting of several dozen people via Zoom videoconferencing….

read … Renewable Energy Zoning Requirements Need Updating

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