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Tuesday, April 14, 2020
April 14, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:38 PM :: 1150 Views

Recktenwald: Are the courts still open?

UNITE Here Local 5 -- "Safe Hotel Operations in Pandemic Conditions"

Police Question People on Virus-free Island of Lanai 

Kauai Mayor Orders Entire Island to Wear Masks Outside

State Administration of Federal Programs: Auditors Find Weaknesses

Civil liberties in the age of the coronavirus

Hawaii 3rd-Lowest COVID Per Capita in USA

SA: … The data provided by Johns Hopkins and published by time.com shows that only Minnesota and West Virginia have per capita infection rates that are lower than Hawaii’s rate of 36 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population. That is far below the national rate of 177 infections per 100,000 population.

It is also noteworthy that Hawaii tests for coronavirus at a considerably higher rate than most states. According to data compiled by Vox, Hawaii continues to rank among the top 10 states for testing per capita, which suggests Hawaii’s infection rate may be more accurate than rates reported by some other states.

read … Hawaii’s coronavirus infection rate among the lowest in the U.S. — so far

Talks about how to lift stay-at-home order begin

HNN: … Hawaii reported just five new COVID-19 cases Monday in what Honolulu’s mayor called “very good news” — and proof stay-at-home restrictions are working.

The new cases bring the statewide total to 504.

It’s one of the lowest single-day counts in weeks and comes amid early discussions about how — and when — the state and counties could begin lifting stay-at-home restrictions.

Those orders have shuttered scores of Hawaii businesses, brought tourism to a virtual standstill, closed school campuses and prompted tens of thousands of Hawaii residents to work from home….

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a news conference Monday there are no plans to re-institute the curfew, calling it a trial that “served its purpose.”

“We’re not going to do this in the future,” Caldwell said….

While Hawaii’s daily case count appears to be trending downward, officials aren’t yet certain that stay-at-home restrictions will be lifted April 30 as scheduled.

Caldwell indicated that the order could be lifted slowly rather than all at once.

And Gov. David Ige said something similar in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday. He said discussions are underway for a “phased-in” approach to lifting the state’s shutdown.

“We will begin to think about which businesses we can allow to reopen because their activity does not promote social gathering and the possibility of infecting others,” he said. “We’ve started the conservation amongst the mayors to determine what would be the conditions that reopen the state.”

read … Talks about how to lift stay-at-home order begin

Contact Testing is the Key to Reopening the Economy—but we would have to transfer HGEA members to new jobs so we’re all doomed

CB: … the ability to conduct such contact tracing is one of UHERO’s prerequisites for reopening the economy. HMSA also states the need for contact tracing in its work plan, which Mugiishi went over at Monday’s House select committee meeting.

“This contact tracing is really where the action is,” Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said during Monday’s hearing, which was conducted by Zoom and broadcast on public access television.

The challenge is that conducting fast and extensive contact tracing isn’t easy, said Tim Brown, an economist with the East-West Center who co-authored the UHERO paper with University of Hawaii economist Sumner La Croix.

The COVID-19 contact tracing criteria involve tracking down anyone who came into contact – meaning within 2 meters for at least 15 minutes — with an infected person, Brown said. This typically can mean some 30 to 40 people, he said.

“The staffing needs should not be understated,” Brown said….

(Translation: Contract tracing depends on the State’s ability to transfer lots of HGEA members to new jobs.  So we’re doomed because COVID is less important than upholding the sanctity of the HGEA contract—even when Emergency Declaration allows Ige to overrule that contract.)

WHT: Tech chief briefs senators about progress on fixing beleaguered unemployment filing system

SA: State health officials cautioned not to read too much into Monday’s low number, saying it’s likely a reflection of the rate of test reporting over the holiday weekend.

read … Reopening Hawaii’s Economy Will Likely Be Slow and Painful

Coronavirus-Tracking Platform Gets Traction in Hawaii

GT: … An online platform called Aloha Trace is meant to track the spread of coronavirus throughout the state of Hawaii. The online survey focuses on respondent symptoms, location and movement in the community….

Kurisu said the platform is based on the concept of contact tracing, which has been successfully used in South Korea to reduce the disease’s spread. He said South Korean officials used cellphone tracking to monitor the movement of people who tested positive, and alerted businesses or others that they had been in close contact with a virus carrier.

Such monitoring would be illegal in the U.S. because of federal health privacy laws, but working with the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at the University of Hawaii, Kurisu and others came up with the idea of using crowdsourcing to create a similar system….

Jenifer Winter, a University of Hawaii-Manoa professor who researches public health through big data and is not part of the project, said this kind of information could be useful as long as researchers are “contextualizing” it and understand the data’s limitations. She said an analysis of the data should include the understanding that there may be bad actors who intentionally submit erroneous information or overly anxious people who are not infected, but report having symptoms….

Related: 11,000 participate in Hawaii COVID Contact Tracking Survey

read … Coronavirus-Tracking Platform Gets Traction in Hawaii

Hawaii Small Businesses Land $1.6 Billion From Feds

PBN: … Relief money used to keep employees on the payroll during the crisis does not need to be paid back….

read … Hawaii Small Businesses Land $1.6 Billion From Feds

Senators slam Ige for Paying HGEA Members to do Nothing

SA: … Frustrated key state senators Monday blasted Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff and some state department heads over a myriad of coronavirus-­related responses, including admitted lax tracking of arriving visitors, idled state workers not helping with backlogged unemployment claims and the prospect 631 nonessential state workers could join the army of unemployed private and gig workers in just over two weeks, when rents and mortgages are typically due.

Linda Chu Takayama, Ige’s chief of staff, was unable to answer many of the pointed questions from the six members of the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19, adding to their frustrations.

Takayama was scheduled to testify for 30 minutes. Instead she endured nearly 90 minutes of questions that she was largely unable to answer to the senators’ satisfaction.

“It’s just excuses,” said state Sen. Donna Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-­Halawa) in slamming Takayama. “We keep getting these excuses. The only power we have is to ask you folks these questions. We’re not even in session, so we can’t even pass a law. … It’s not acceptable. … People’s lives are in jeopardy.”

Among the questions Takayama was unable to satisfactorily answer:

>> Is the state likely to furlough 706 idled, nonessential state workers who are still receiving salaries? (Ryker Wada, director of the state Department of Human Resources Development, later told senators that the number had been reduced to 631.)

“At this point we’re not talking about it,” Takayama said. “I can’t discuss that right now.” … 

TGI: Applying for unemployment has been a headache for many Kaua‘i residents

read … State senators slam officials over COVID-19 response

Maui County Hides Second Cluster from DoH?

SA: … Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino said there is another possible cluster of COVID-19 cases aside from the Maui Memorial Medical Center.

He said he cannot divulge the location of the other one, but that there is a “strong suspicion” of another cluster.

The Department of Health is investigating, and Dr. Lorrin Pang, the DOH district health officer for Maui, is involved, Victorino said at a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss updates related to COVID-19 on the Valley Isle.

DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said she was not aware of another possible Maui cluster.

State health officials said Monday that the Maui Memorial Medical Center cluster of COVID-19 cases has increased to 34 health care workers and patients. The total includes two more health care workers and one patient who recently tested positive.

Okubo said some had traveled and gotten ill, while others were community spread. The department is continuing to investigate by contact tracing….

(NOTE: Maui County has the highest per-capita COVID cases and it has also kept two clusters secret.  Lesson: Secrecy is counterproductive.)

read … Secrecy

18 workers reassigned to help with jobless claims are only staying long enough to get trained

HNN: … The state Labor Department can use all the help it can get processing the more than 220,000 unemployment claims filed since March 1.

That’s why on Monday 18 workers from other state agencies were added to the department’s 83 staff members.

But Hawaii News Now learned, the additions are only for one week — just long enough to train them.

Then, the 18 will rotate out.

It’s a head scratcher of a decision that left lawmakers irked Monday.

"The public doesn’t want to hear excuses we want to get it done,” said a frustrated state Sen. Donna Mercado-Kim, during a hearing Monday morning.

Kim has repeatedly asked why state workers deemed non-essential can’t tele-work but are getting paid.

She wanted them shifted to needed positions, including at the Department of Labor.

She said it’s vital that the state work as quickly as possible to issue unemployment checks.

“They can’t pay their bills. It’s gut wrenching," Kim said about all those waiting for relief.

Labor Director Scott Murakami said he wasn’t given a full explanation of why the 18 additional staff members were going to be rotated out so quickly.

“The reality of it is that there is not only a training period but there is a period where people gain proficiency and that’s just about a week."

Late Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Resources confirmed the 18 additional staff members are only there until April 20, saying they are “volunteers from other departments whose supervisors approved this assignment on a temporary basis for one week only.”

The statement from Director Ryker Wada continued, “This will allow us to formally notify the identified Category 3 employee (nonessential/unable to telework) this week of their new assignment and work location."

Those 20 will rotate in and be part of a longer-term staff.

Wada also indicated more, Category 3 workers would be sent over later to help process claims….

TL: 67% Drink while ‘Working’ Remotely

read … 18 workers reassigned to help with jobless claims are only staying long enough to get trained

Fabric stores to re-open as essential businesses

SA: … Caldwell capitulates….

read … Fabric stores to open as essential businesses

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