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Thursday, April 9, 2020
April 9, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:56 PM :: 2128 Views

DoH Hid Maui Hospital COVID-19 Cluster Since Mid-March

Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Resignation of DoH Leaders

Is Hawaii Really Run by the HTA?

Safety Dance: Are There Limits To Lockdowns?

Airports Corporation takes on new sense of urgency

COVID: 25 New Cases, Total Hits 435

Honolulu Zoo achieves accreditation

Public Comment: DoE Seeks ESSA Waiver

COVID Projection: Hawaii Peak of 10 Deaths Per Day on Sunday

HNN: … Univ of Washington researchers are predicting that Hawaii will peak at 10 deaths a day by Sunday, with an estimated 112 deaths by the summer. Those projections are down from 155 deaths earlier this week ….

(They’re decreasing … uh … exponentially.)

April 7, 2020: UW Revises estimated Hawaii COVID deaths down to 155 from 372 

read … Governor defends pandemic response as Hawaii reports 6th COVID-19 death

State may redeploy a few idle HGEA Members Next Week—DLIR Hiring New Employees Off Street while 1000s Paid to Sit at Home

SA: … Reinforcements could be headed to process a massive backlog of Hawaii unemployment claims as soon as Friday or Monday from a pool of 706 idle state workers.

That’s the “target date” for the state Department of Human Resources Development to redeploy the first of about 90 state employees from other departments, where they can’t work because of coronavirus safety measures but still get paid, to the state Department of Labor &Industrial Relations, where a struggle exists to process more than 200,000 unemployment claims filed since March.

Ryker Wada, DHRD director, informed members of the Special Senate Committee on COVID-19 of the expected reassignments at a Wednesday meeting during which he also provided the first public accounting of how many state employees have been idled with pay at many, but not all, state departments.

Wada also said he has yet to receive information from several departments — including the Department of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, Department of Land &Natural Resources and Department of Business, Economic Development &Tourism — about how many emergency workers they could use.

The uncertain timetable for reassigning more idle workers drew critical comments from committee members.

“Why does it take us so long?” asked Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa). “There’s a lot of people out there who have lost their job and who can’t even get the unemployment.”

Since the beginning of March through Tuesday, 201,836 unemployment claims have been filed in Hawaii, including 6,903 Tuesday….

To help with the overload, DLIR has shifted workers from other areas within the department to help process claims but can’t project how long it will take to issue checks. The agency recently also posted hiring notices for temporary unemployment assistant and processing specialist jobs that pay $2,620 to $3,488 a month…. 

SA: Troubleshooting is occurring on IT carrying-capacity limitations at the newly opened call center at the Kakaako “Sandbox” facility, which has been plagued this week with spotty connectivity due to heavy demand.

CB: More Than 700 State Workers Are Home Awaiting Reassignment

NR: Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 meets again Thursday, April 9

read … State to redeploy initial idle workers by Monday

DoH Finally Agrees to Allow Contract Testing

CB: … Hawaii COVID-19 testing criteria now includes people not showing symptoms who have been in close contact with people who have tested positive, Department of Health officials said Wednesday.

The policy calling for more widespread testing follows a previously held and hotly debated position that Hawaii would follow a more conservative approach and reserve testing only for people showing symptoms…

on a per capita basis, Hawaii already ranked among the nation’s most aggressive in terms of the numbers of tests conducted. As of Wednesday, Anderson said, some 15,000 tests had been conducted in Hawaii.

In terms of controlling the virus, Ige said, “We are outperforming virtually every other state in the country.”…

HTH: Lieutenant governor disagrees with CDC guideline to only test those with COVID-19 symptoms

read … Hawaii Officials Announce Expanded COVID-19 Testing

Accurate Rapid Testing key to Reopening Hawaii

HNN: … Right now, there’s only one rapid test that’s been fully approved by the FDA, he said. Many say the device will be a game changer.

The state recently acquired 15 of these $20,000 machines from Abbott, which can deliver accurate test results in minutes.

The state is sending them to hospitals on Oahu and the neighbor islands. But in the future they could be used at airports.

“This is the test (we want) if we want to turn the open for business sign in Hawaii on again,” Miscovich said.

“Most of us in the medical world would be comfortable if we had a high level, quick test like that.”…

Related: Blood Test Provides Instant COVID Results—Rejected by Hawaii DoH

read … At-home COVID-19 testing kits are now available. The problem? They’re very unreliable

How Many Quarantined from COVID?  State, Counties Disagree

HTH: … The number of COVID-19 cases reported daily by the county Civil Defense agency has often differed from the number reported each day by the state Department of Health.

On Wednesday, for example, a Civil Defense alert issued just after 8 a.m. noted the total number of positive tests for Hawaii Island was 27, from which 21 had been cleared by the DOH and the remaining six quarantined at home.

As of noon Wednesday, however, the DOH reported 26 total cases in Hawaii County, nine of which have been released from isolation.

(Big Island quarantine count 6 or 15???)

On Tuesday, Civil Defense reported 26 cases on Hawaii Island, and on Monday, 25, while the DOH reported 23 both days.

Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said the county receives its numbers from the DOH district health officer on the Big Island….

MT: ‘Underwhelmed’: As Hana and Moloka’i confront their first COVID-19 cases, elected officials are frustrated with notification procedures

read … Several variables could be behind differing totals of COVID-19 cases

Honolulu Cruise Ship Disaster Begins?  6 crew members of Pride of America cruise ship in Honolulu Harbor test positive for coronavirus

SA: … Six crew members of the Pride of America cruise ship, which is docked at Honolulu Harbor, have tested positive for coronavirus, state transportation officials said today.

Two of the crew members have been hospitalized and four are in isolation on the ship, the Hawaii Department of Transportation said today.

(Those four must be removed from the ship and quarantined on land or the infection will spread.)

There are about 500 crew members on board which is home-ported in Honolulu…

CBS: Grand Princess Passengers File Lawsuit, Claim Negligence In Coronavirus Response

read … 6 crew members of Pride of America cruise ship in Honolulu Harbor test positive for coronavirus

Lt. Gov. Josh Green questions plan to release prisoners, Mercado Kim points out emergency is being used as “an excuse to let out prisoners early.”

SA: … Lt. Gov. Josh Green today questioned a controversial plan to release low-risk jail inmates to try to block the spread of the new coronavirus in the state’s overcrowded correctional system, telling state senators that if corrections officials have the right personal protective gear, then “prison is safer than Costco.”

During testimony before the Special Senate Committee on COVID-19 this morning, Green said that “if you release prisoners who are already anti-social in some way, I really worry that they’re not going to listen to all the social distancing and quarantine rules.”

Green was responding to questions about a request by the Office of the Public Defender that the state immediately reduce the populations in its overcrowded state jails to prevent the spread of coronavirus….

State Sen. Donna Kim suggested the inmates are probably safer inside the jails because they are not exposed to the spread of coronavirus in the larger community, and said that even if some prisoners were released, “you’re not going to let out enough to be able to have social distancing within the prisons anyway.”

“Unless you release 50 percent of them, you’re not going to achieve what you’re hoping to achieve, and the unintended consequences are huge,” said Kim, (D-Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa). She suggested the emergency is being used as “an excuse to let out prisoners early.”

Green replied that if corrections officers get masks and the appropriate personal protections equipment, “then prison is safer than Costco, if I may.”

SA Editorial: Pursue options to move inmates

read … Lt. Gov. Josh Green questions plan to release prisoners, declares ‘prison is safer than Costco’

Military won’t say how many COVID-19 cases in Hawaii—Number Reported to DoH and Included in State Totals

SA: …There have been exceptions in Hawaii. The Air Force said Friday — four days after the Pentagon edict — that an active-duty airman assigned to Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Field had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Army in Hawaii also reported Friday, in a notice meant to inform parents, that a Fort Shafter child care center employee had tested positive for the virus.

The Navy as a whole had 460 positive cases as of Tuesday — with about 200 sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt down with COVID-19, according to Military Times.

The Army had 361 cases, the Air Force 322 and the Marine Corps 78, the publication reported.

Farah, the Pentagon press secretary, said base commanders “are instructed to continue to work with local community health officials to share information on base community cases.”

Officials said military COVID-19 case information is funneled through Tripler Army Medical Center to the state Department of Health on a daily basis — and the military cases are captured in the daily state totals that are publicized.

But how many military cases make up the state total and what services or commands they are a part of are not made public….

read … Military won’t say how many COVID-19 cases in Hawaii

Two Hawai‘i National Guardsmen test positive for COVID-19

KITV: … The Guardsmen were not a part of the Guard activation or in the Joint Task Force supporting various missions around the State.

The Hawai'i Air National Guard member is a traditional Airman with a full-time civilian job. This Airman has not interacted with any other Air Guardsmen since their unit’s February drill assembly. The Airman is currently quarantined, monitored by their medical provider and is experiencing very mild symptoms.

The Hawai'i Army National Guard member works full-time for the Guard and started teleworking in mid-March. This Soldier had no interaction with Guard coworkers. The Soldier is also isolated in quarantine, being monitored by medical a provider and is also in good condition….

read … Two Hawai‘i National Guardsmen test positive for COVID-19

Guam’s Growing Coronavirus Challenge

TD: … Once the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Guam on March 15, Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero was quick to respond. The next day schools and nonessential government offices were closed and soon after, public parks, beaches, and most businesses followed. Travel restrictions and a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government facility for those arriving on the island were imposed. Group gatherings were prohibited.

Early, aggressive steps, the governor said, were responsible for Guam’s relatively low number of cases. But as COVID-19 cases rise, the governor’s handling of the crisis is receiving mixed reviews, especially the decision in February to promote Guam as a coronavirus-free tourist destination to visitors from the region where the outbreak began….

read … Guam’s Growing Coronavirus Challenge

Pandemic Deals Blow to Plastic Bag Bans

AP: … Just weeks ago, cities and even some states across the United States were banning straws, limiting takeout containers and mandating that shoppers bring reusable bags or pay a small fee as the movement to eliminate single-use plastics took hold in environmentally conscious America.

What a difference a pandemic makes.

In a matter of days, hard-won bans to reduce the use of plastics — particularly plastic shopping sacks — have come under fire due to worries about the virus clinging to reusable bags, cups and straws.

Governors in Massachusetts and Illinois have banned or strongly discouraged the use of reusable grocery bags. Oregon suspended its brand-new ban on plastic bags this week, and cities from Bellingham, Washington, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, have announced a hiatus on plastic bag bans as the coronavirus rages….

read … Pandemic Deals Blow to Plastic Bag Bans

Real Estate Listings Drop Sharply for April

PBN: … The Realtors Association of Maui noted in its monthly report that the first effects of COVID-19 were evident in March with a 43% drop in new listings for single-family homes. Pending sales, deals that are scheduled to close in April or May, dropped 42% for single-family homes and 56.8% for condominiums. Overall inventory on Maui fell 20.4% for single-family homes and 7.6% for condos.

Those effects were not as pronounced on Oahu, where pending sales of single-family homes were 10.8% higher than a year ago, but new listings for homes and condos were 16.7% and 14.3% lower than a year ago. Total active listings of single-family homes were 17.9% lower than a year ago, while active listings of condos were down by 3.2%

read … Hawaii home sales in March don't reflect coronavirus, but effects are coming

DOE: 4 weeks of no new coronavirus cases before public schools can reopen

HNN: …  The state Department of Education is not planning to reopen school campuses in Hawaii until four weeks pass without any new reported cases of coronavirus, according to a memo that was distributed to educators this week.

Public schools across the state were already scheduled to remain shuttered until the end of April because of the pandemic, which has already sickened at least 400 people in Hawaii.

But with that time frame rapidly approaching, and dozens of new cases being reported on a daily basis, the new guidance makes it appear unlikely that in-class learning at Hawaii schools will resume during the 2019-2020 school year….

School calendars posted on the Department of Education website list May 28 as the last official day for Hawaii’s public school students. May 29 is scheduled to be the last day for teachers….

read … DOE: 4 weeks of no new coronavirus cases before public schools can reopen

Pandemic impacts school services for special needs students

KITV: … With schools closed, it also means special needs students including those on the autism spectrum in need of behavioral therapy or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) aren't getting the access they normally would to one on one specialists….

It's something one Maui mom is already seeing firsthand.  Rachel Steven says her son Hunter, a Kindergarten student at King Kamehameha III Elementary School is already slipping in his behavior.

She says since the schools closed, his progress he had this school year regressed. "He's spitting, he's biting himself, punching himself in the head, he's using excessive profanity, his world is turned upside down," Rachel says.

She says aside from a view brief conferences with support staff, he hasn't had full access to teleconferencing with his specialist.

The Hawaii State Department of Education says during the school closure, it's not possible for specialists to make house visits, but where possible, they're working to provide telepractice where appropriate….

read … Pandemic impacts school services for special needs students

Another Homeless Drug House Goes up in Flames

SA: … Honolulu firefighters this evening extinguished fire at Pensacola Street home, which neighbors called a “hoarder” house frequently used by homeless people (who always practice social distancing).

The abandoned single-family home at 1421 Pensacola St. caught fire late this afternoon and possibly damaged a neighboring home.

Carol Lopez, who lives next door, said a neighbor alerted her to the fire at the house, which she said is frequented by homeless people who sometimes do drugs there (because they have not been FORCED into shelters).

“Last year, about four or five times, I’ve called the fire department because it was on fire,” Lopez said. “They come and put the fire out … but that’s all they did.”

Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Jeff Roache said the amount of trash inside the property affected how quickly firefighters were able to control the fire….

read … Homeless Drug Addicts Burn Another House

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