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Tuesday, April 7, 2020
April 7, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:24 PM :: 1161 Views

Attorney: Emergency Declaration Did Not Suspend Transparency Requirements of County Charter

Livestream Panel: Uniting TMT and Maunakea

Coronavirus: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Most Aggressive States Against the Coronavirus -- Hawaii Jumps from 46th to 11th to 4th

Sherwoods Protesters Cited for Violating COVID Emergency Order

HNN: … On Monday morning, about 20 protesters turned out at the park and the crowd included kupuna and children.

“It’s kinda hurtful that the mayor would allow this to happen,” said Kalaninui Akau who got a citation.

Police say there were two citations, 28 warnings and no arrests.

On the citation, police wrote “Rules of the Mayor." HPD later explained the citations were for violating emergency laws after ignoring officers warnings to leave….

Related: Attorney: Emergency Declaration Did Not Suspend Transparency Requirements of County Charter

SA: Fining movement steps on constitutional rights  

SA: Mayor Caldwell criticized for resuming Sherwood project during coronavirus crisis

read … Mayor defends decision to move forward with Waimanalo park project that drew protests

UW Revises estimated Hawaii COVID deaths down to 155 from 372

SA: … University of Washington researchers who are modeling the coronavirus pandemic in states across the U.S. have significantly reduced their projected number of deaths and related statistics, including here in Hawaii.

But the model, which was updated Sunday, still shows a possible 155 deaths in Hawaii by August, down from an earlier projection of 372….

(They will keep on revising this down until it matches the real number.  Then they will stop.)

ILind: Forecast predicts Covid-19 deaths in Hawaii will peak next weekend

SA: “Typically on weekends you see a decrease in the number of cases simply because reports are not submitted as quickly as they are during the week, and I think the worst is still yet to come.”

SA Editorial: Critical time for isles, so stay home

read … Model revises estimated Hawaii deaths down to 155

Want Free Money?  Apply for Welfare—Nobody Will Check your Check

HTH: … State Department of Human Services Director Pankaj Bhanot said Monday that eligibility restrictions will be loosened for general assistance payments — commonly known as welfare — because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at Gov. David Ige’s media briefing, Bhanot said provisions of Ige’s emergency declaration mean those who apply for benefits will, for now, be the beneficiary of “a presumptive eligibility for general assistance for the duration of the emergency.”

He added benefits certification periods have been extended and compliance checks suspended, for now.

General assistance, in most cases, isn’t available to able-bodied individuals…. (hint, hint)

read … State eases welfare requirements

Puna Councilman Opposes Inmate Release During Pandemic

BIVN: … I have received a high volume of calls within the past 24 hours regarding the proposed release of convicted criminals who are housed at Hawaii Community Correction Center (HCCC) in Hilo….

I oppose any release of inmates from HCCC. Placing close to 100 inmates into our community is outright dangerous. Our police force is taxed and people are scared; this move just adds fuel to the fire, especially in Puna.

There are existing State Facilities like Kulani Honor Camp and Hale Nani where these alleged “safe inmates” can continue to be supervised. There are options to an outright release into the general population of East Hawaii. Also note that none of the released inmates will be able to leave the island until that “essential” travel ban is lifted.

The Department of Public Safety has stated that currently there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at HCCC or any other State Facility….

SA: Corrections system overpopulated by 445 inmates, state says

read … Puna Councilman Opposes Inmate Release During Pandemic

Two More Homeless Deported

SA: … The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH) returned two homeless men to Los Angeles on Monday, the first day of the nonprofit’s COVID-19 flight assistance program.

The program, which is funded with a grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, aims to ensure that travelers to Hawaii don’t stay here unless they have the resources to follow a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. Visitors to Hawaii are required to bear all quarantine expenses, including lodging and food delivery….

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said Sunday’s trans-Pacific visitor arrival count was 126. The number of visitors Saturday was 106; it was 94 on Friday and 89 on Thursday.

Officials don’t know why visitor counts have picked up. They say, anecdotally, that some of the visitors are coming to take advantage of cheap deals. Others might be second-home owners or vacation renters seeking to hunker down in Hawaii rather than where they live, where COVID-19 cases and restrictions could be worse.

Rich said visitors to Hawaii, who are flagged for not having lodging, are given a choice to prove that they have found a place to stay or leave. Violations of the quarantine mandate could result in a misdemeanor with fines up to $5,000 and one year in prison….

read … State tourism agency pays to send visitors home

Inter-Island Quarantine lacks enforcement

SA: … Since the start of the trans-Pacific quarantine on March 26, the counties have been receiving information about arriving trans-Pacific passengers. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau calls to alert hosts that they have visitors arriving who are subject to a quarantine order. The agency also randomly calls the visitors to check for compliance.

But that’s not happening for interisland flights. Counties anxious to monitor interisland arrivals say they aren’t receiving timely information. In addition, Hawaii Tourism Authority and HVCB staff are not making calls to interisland travelers who are subject to the quarantine, according to HTA spokeswoman Marisa Yamane.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said Monday that information needed to enforce the interisland quarantine is coming late. It’s the responsibility of local police to enforce it, but police get critical information about interisland passengers a day late, he said…. 

WHT: ‘They never checked in:’ Kona woman who returned from New York questions quarantine enforcement

HTH: Quarantine enforcement impeded by lag in getting traveler data from state tourism agency

KHON: More than 1,400 flew interisland since 4/1 quarantine order

read … Quarantine of Hawaii interisland visitors lacks enforcement

New instruments will provide COVID-19 results in minutes

HNN: … State health officials are expecting a shipment of 15 Abbott rapid testing instruments to arrive on Tuesday, courtesy of the federal government.

They’re used to read the company’s new rapid COVID-19 test, which was granted emergency clearance for use by the FDA a little more than a week ago.

Roughly the size of a toaster, the instruments may prove to be a game changer in the fight against COVID-19.

“It’s like a flu test basically. And it can test positive within five minutes and by the time 13 minutes has passed you know if you’re negative,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green said.

Green says the plan says is to deploy the instruments to hospitals across the state. But for now it seems the number of people who will benefit from the new technology is limited.

“There’s a huge backlog on the number of test kits that are available for this particular instrument,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson.

Anderson said the tests are being rationed, and added he expects to receive only enough kits to test 120 people each week for the foreseeable future….

So far, 14,079 people have been tested for coronavirus in Hawaii.

Private labs have done the bulk of the work with results taking anywhere from a few days to well over a week….

Detroit was one of the first cities to deploy the rapid tests. Last Thursday, they were made available to first responders who had been advised to self isolate but had not yet tested positive for the virus….

read … New instruments will provide COVID-19 results in minutes, but test kits are limited

Remove GE Tax from Medical Practices to Save Private MDs

SoR: … “So, from the Big Island we’re very much in a state of crisis there. We have a 44% shortage of physicians on the Big Island. About 230 doctors is the number of physicians that we’re short of and of the remaining practicing physicians 32%, or basically a third of the remaining doctors, are 65 years old or older.

It’s very hard to recruit new physicians into the community. We’re in a position where private practice is basically on the verge of going extinct. The margins in order to practice profitably with a small practice, which is a small business of course, are so low that with additional pressures — like the GET tax and the low Medicare reimbursements along with the high cost of providing care — it’s basically preventing any new physicians from coming in. And unfortunately, as the older physicians start to retire or have health conditions of their own, we’re entering a state of a period where some of the health care bones of the Big Island are starting to collapse…

…We have gotten together a task force, a physician shortage crisis task force, that’s comprised of community physicians, the 50-member independent physicians association of East Hawaii, and hospital-based physicians. And so, we have four former chiefs of the medical staff at Hilo Medical Center, for example, on our team and we’re looking at what’s happening globally. We’re talking among ourselves and we’re trying to advocate for solutions. We have already worked with our congressional delegation in Washington, particularly Representative Ed Case, in order to inform CMS why our rates are so low compared to other high-cost states like Alaska, and that’s had some success already.

We’re also reaching out to the legislature and stating that the general excise tax of 4.7% with the county surcharges basically strips a lot of these narrow-margin medical practices and puts them into the red. So, if the GET and the surcharges were applied to the hospital system, our understanding from talking to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii is that most if not all hospitals in Hawaii would be in the red and would have to either limit services or possibly close. So, if the state legislature agreed that the GET tax on hospitals and hospital-employed physicians is a bad idea because would it cause collapse of that portion of the sector, why would you apply it to community-based physicians?” …

read … What They’re Watching: Dr. Scott Grosskreutz

Curfew and stay-at-home orders result in fewer traffic crashes

KITV: … The Kaua‘i Police Department’s assistance with the implementation of the emergency curfew and stay-at-home orders, along with the the community’s compliance, have significantly reduced the number of traffic crashes islandwide.

There has been a 27% decrease in traffic crashes from February to March. A total of 130 traffic crashes occurred in February whereas March had 95.

The most notable reduction, however, was related to major traffic crashes. There was a 41% reduction from 44 in February to 26 in March.

Minor traffic crashes also declined by 20% from 86 in February to 69 in March.

And even though some 4,000 drivers passed a day-time checkpoint on Kaumuali‘i Highway near Halfway Bridge last week, largely for essential travel purposes, Kaua‘i is reported to have the highest percentage of people staying at home in the state. The information is based upon a March 29 Google Mobility Report that tracks location data. …

NR: 04-07-20 Hawaii County DUI stats

read … Curfew and stay-at-home orders result in fewer traffic crashes

Hawaii Island home prices increase nearly 10% in March  

PBN: … Sales of single-family homes on Hawaii Island rose 11% in March and the median price for homes and condominiums grew by nearly 10%, compared to a year ago, while the number of condos sold declined 10%, according to statistics provided by Hawaii Information Service on behalf of Hawaii Island Realtors.

There were 234 single-family homes sold in March, which was 11.43% more than the 210 sold in March 2019. The median price of those homes was $417,500, an increase of 9.48% from $381,360.

The median price of a condo was $410,000, which was an increase of 9.33% from $375,000 in March 2019. That was based on sales of 64 units, which was 9.86% fewer than the 71 units sold in March 2019….

read … Hawaii Island home prices increase nearly 10% in March

Parks and Rec hearing closed to the public

TGI: … The Department of Parks and Recreation is proposing new rules for use of county sports fields/stadium facilities and playgrounds, and there’s a public hearing about those rules today.

That meeting isn’t open to the public, though.

County of Kauai announced the public hearing in a press release yesterday, saying the purpose of the public hearing is to outline and establish uniform rules and regulations for use of these facilities, provide “equitable opportunities” for use, prevent abuse and misuse of the sports fields/stadium facilities and playgrounds and “provide reasonable control of recreational activities”….

read … Parks and Rec hearing closed to the public

KPD resumes firearms registration

TGI: … The Kaua‘i Police Department (KPD) resumed limited firearms records operations on March 31 and is expected to expand to full-service operations by appointment only on April 7.

The resumption of services was due to support from Gov. David Ige and the Hawai‘i Criminal Justice Data Center.

“I appreciate Governor Ige accepting the county police chiefs’ requests to suspend the deadline for firearms registrations as required under HRS chapter 134,” said Chief of Police Todd G. Raybuck. “Additionally, we now have a portable LiveScan fingerprint device loaned to KPD from the Department of the Attorney General’s Hawai‘i Criminal Justice Center, that will enable KPD records personnel to maintain safe social distancing practices while conducting mandatory fingerprinting for some firearms transactions.”…

read … KPD resumes firearms records

DeepGreen to make run for battery metals from seafloor

MC: … DeepGreen Metals, a Canadian start-up planning to extract cobalt and other battery metals from the seafloor, has added a new area to its seabed portfolio, which it believes could potentially help it solve the bottleneck supply of critical battery metals needed for the world’s green energy transition.

The strategic acquisition of Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), announced Tuesday, gives the Vancouver-based company exploration rights to a third area inside the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ)  in the Pacific Ocean.

The 4,000-kilometre swath of ocean, stretching from Hawaii to Mexico, is known for containing enough nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese to build over 250 million electric vehicle batteries. …

(Translation: The Eco-Cars create the need for the deep sea mining that the ecos have so strenuously opposed.  Yes, you should be laughing.)

read … DeepGreen to make run for battery metals from seafloor

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