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Wednesday, April 15, 2020
April 15, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:35 PM :: 1101 Views

Kauai, Oahu Require Face Masks in Public

Panos: First Call to Plan for Re-opening the Local Economy in Hawaii

COVID Count; 13 New Cases, 26 Released

Petition: Hawaii COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Not Being Paid!

Deal to Save Meadow Gold Collapses—Honolulu Plant Will Shut Down April 30

Economist unpacks disruptions to Kauai, Hawaii Island real estate

House Committee: COVID-19 Testing and Reopening Economy

Hawaii CoC petitions governor for more COVID aid

COVID Cluster at Two Kailua-Kona McDonalds

Rethink Tourism for Post-COVID Hawaii

US DOJ Defends Drive-In Church Against COVID Shutdown   

Senate Confirms Judicial Nominee Without Meeting

American Samoa Leaders, State Department Appeal Citizenship Ruling

Unions: Governor is proposing 20% pay cuts for ‘most’ state employees

HNN: … The governor has proposed a staggering 20% pay cut for “most” public employees as early as May 1, according to two public sector unions.

In a letter to its members Tuesday, HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said the union hasn’t received a formal proposal and it’s not clear if the salary cuts would be implemented as furloughs or as across-the-board salary decreases.

“According to the governor’s human resources and budget directors, the cuts are meant to prevent an economic collapse as the coronavirus pandemic cuts off a major sources of state revenues,” Rosenlee said….

HGEA confirmed it had also received the pay cuts proposal verbally, and plans to reject it….

A spokeswoman said in addition to the 20% pay cut, the governor has proposed a 10% pay cut for first responders in several bargaining units — including nurses, correctional workers and others….

In a news conference Tuesday, Gov. David Ige declined to confirm furloughs were being discussed.

But he did say, “We are being prudent and looking at all options to reduce costs.”

He added that with more than 100 hotels closed and tourism brought to a virtual standstill amid a stay-at-home order and mandatory quarantine for travelers, the state has seen a significant drop in tax revenues.

He said the state is “looking at a number of other activities to manage funds we have in anticipation of significant reductions in revenues to fund state services.”

State workers last faced furloughs during the Great Recession.

Back then, so-called “Furlough Fridays” amounted to an 8% pay cut for teachers.….

read … Unions: Governor is proposing 20% pay cuts for ‘most’ state employees

Honolulu Salary Commission taking up 3% pay raise plan for city officials

SA: … Despite firm rebukes from Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council, the Honolulu Salary Commission is scheduled Thursday to consider voting on a recommendation that would give most top city officials a 3% pay raise July 1.

But Commission Chairman Kevin Sakamoto said Tuesday that the idea of recommending no raises — in the face of an anticipated economic downturn due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak — is also on Thursday’s agenda.

The 1:30 p.m. meeting at the City Council’s third-floor chambers at Honolulu Hale is public, but no oral testimony is being accepted. The meeting is not being broadcast live….

Related: Virus Makes Honolulu Hale Pay Raises Inopportune

read … Honolulu Salary Commission taking up 3% pay raise plan for city officials

COVID 56 Hospitalized but DoH says only 26

CB: … Not only does the DOH provide less information than Green on its COVID-19 website, the data it does release is missing what, some argue, is critical context that can better explain to the public Hawaii’s vulnerabilities to the coronavirus and the health risks posed by its spread to those living in the islands.

On April 6, for instance, when state officials announced the fifth death in Hawaii, the DOH also told the public that since the beginning of the outbreak 26 people had been hospitalized with COVID-19.

Green, however, gave a different number in his daily social media presentation. According to him, there were a total of 56 people in the hospital suffering from COVID-19 symptoms that very same day, or more than twice what DOH officials were saying publicly….

“When you put out 26 when the number is really 56 you’re downplaying the problem and giving the public the wrong impression,” said Tim Brown, a senior research fellow at the East-West Center who specializes in infectious disease epidemiology and modeling.

“I’m a firm believer that in public health you give the public the truth and let them make their own choices.”

In particular, Brown would like to see the DOH provide more information about contact tracing and the clusters of positive coronavirus cases that are popping up in the community so that individuals can use that information to change their habits. He said this will be especially important as officials consider allowing businesses to reopen and life begins to get back to some semblance of normalcy….

Hawaii’s DOH lags behind agencies in other states when it comes to sharing relevant details about the severity of the pandemic, where it might be surging and whether local hospitals are prepared to handle the load.

Some experts worry that a lack of information could mask a lurking danger or provide residents with a false sense of security when vigilance is needed to shelter in place, work from home and stay away from friends and family.

Statewide coronavirus testing results, for example, have shown a leveling off in the number of positive cases in recent days. But lag times in getting results and other gaps in the testing, such as undercounting low-income communities that don’t have as much access to health care, could skew the trend lines….

read … Hawaii Lags Behind Other States In Release Of COVID-19 Data

Safety versus liberty: Constitutional freedoms tempered by COVID-19 crisis

HTH: … Thomas cited legal cases in Hawaii and on the mainland where courts have upheld government restrictions during times of emergencies, from the burning of Honolulu’s Chinatown during the bubonic plague to the quarantining of Hansen’s disease victims. Thomas focused on “the practical realities” of how he expects courts to rule, based on that history, not on what might be considered right or wrong or good or bad public policy.

The webinar comes as more Hawaii residents are chafing under stay-at-home restrictions and losing their jobs as nonessential businesses are closed. In addition to frustration with cabin fever experienced by residents, businesses are losing big money, landlords worry about paying their mortgages when tenants can’t pay their rent and everyone hopes to get bailed out by the government.

Panos Prevedouros, a civil engineering professor and unsuccessful candidate for Honolulu mayor, is one of the most vocal pushing for loosening of restrictions.

“Hawaii hardly has a COVID-19 problem. Our hospitals are not busy. The calls for new curfews, more mask usage and policing beaches with drones are verging on the ridiculous,” he said in a Monday blog posting. “Local politicians are on an one-upmanship game for restrictions, instead of getting busy with charting a path for the long-term control of COVID-19 cases, and actions to recover our economy.”

Whether courts will rule against government remains to be seen, and if it does happen, it will happen after, not during, the current crisis, Thomas said.

Lawsuits filed in other U.S. courts based on COVID-19 stay-at-home requirements, curfews and other social distancing measures have gained little, if any traction, he said. So far, no such lawsuits have been filed in Hawaii, he said.…

The webinar was sponsored by the Grassroot Institute, a Honolulu-based nonprofit, public policy think tank that “seeks to educate people about the values of individual liberty, economic freedom and accountable government,” according to its website….

read … Safety versus liberty: Constitutional freedoms tempered by COVID-19 crisis

Why No Public Testimony for House, Senate COVID Committees? 

TGI: … The State House and Senate have each convened a “Special Committee on COVID-19”. Ostensibly the mission and goal of each committee is to monitor and review the pandemics’ economic impacts, and the executive branch’s management of the situation. Unfortunately, neither committee provides an opportunity for public input or testimony. Citizen input is a valuable and necessary component of any successful information gathering process and should be welcomed, not prohibited….

read … Foresight, not hindsight should be our legislatures goal

Realtors, Construction, Landscaping Back to Work on Kauai

TGI: … County of Kauai has loosened restrictions for construction and landscaping and for realtors starting today, cracking open the stay-at-home mandate and allowing some local residents to get back to work.

Mayor Derek Kawakami announced Tuesday that starting today those in the trades can work on residential construction projects — but there can only be two workers and the homeowner present at the job site at one time.

That applies only to jobs with an open building permit with the Department of Public Works….

PDF: New Rule

read … Back to Work

Staff: Things Got Out Of Hand Quickly At Maui Hospital

CB: … A week ago, Josh Masslon, a nurse in the intensive care unit at Maui Memorial Medical Center, was at work when he received an alarming text from his wife.

She had just watched a press conference streamed live on Facebook in which Maui Mayor Mike Victorino announced a cluster of at least 15 positive COVID-19 cases at the hospital.

“Everybody’s phones started going off and everybody was like, ‘Holy cow, there’s an outbreak at the hospital,’” Masslon said.

“This is not something we found out about from anyone in the administration or management,” he added. “We found out from our friends and family. We found out from social media.”…

There are now 36 people linked to a coronavirus cluster at Maui Memorial. Those infected include 27 employees and nine patients, Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday, citing a letter from the hospital CEO….

there has been no widespread testing of hospital staff who do not have symptoms and health care workers interviewed by Civil Beat said they have not been notified by management if they had been working closely with a staff member who has later tested positive. …

read … Staff: Things Got Out Of Hand Quickly At Maui Hospital

State launches new online portal for tracking unemployment claims

HNN: … The state Unemployment Office has launched a new web link for people to track their claims.

The status form went online Tuesday after multiple complaints from people waiting to receive benefits.

Since March 1, some 230,631 jobless claims have been filed. That’s roughly a third of the state’s workforce.

Also Tuesday, more help arrived for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Nine volunteers ― librarians and library staff ― set up another processing site at the state library, which is currently closed to the public.

Stacey Aldrich, the state librarian, said they reached out to Department of Labor Director Scott Murakami to offer their services. …

read … State launches new online portal for tracking unemployment claims

DOH, DOE to modify school-reopening terms

KHON: … Opening schools without having to wait until a month passes with no positive COVID-19 tests. That’s what the state health director says he’s hoping to work out with the state public schools superintendent….

read … DOH, DOE to modify school-reopening terms

Lawsuit: Special Ed Students Need Extra Help When Schools Reopen

CB: A potential class action suit proposes that the Hawaii DOE set parameters to assess the needs of Hawaii’s special education students during the school closures….

HGEA: Continuing-to-provide-essential-services-for-special-needs-individuals

PDF:  Complaint

read … Lawsuit: Special Ed Students Need Extra Help When Schools Reopen

Kauai Council makes Brun ex-officio member

TGI: … Kaua‘i County Councilmember Arthur Brun has been in federal custody in Honolulu since his arrest this winter. But, his place on the council cannot be revoked, and he remains a member.

To get around that, the council has voted to make Brun an ex-officio member, which will strip him of his voting rights.

“If he is not able to participate,” Chair Arryl Kaneshiro said, “he shouldn’t be on the committees.” …

Since he is still a member of the council, Brun earns $5,261.67 per month….

read … Council makes Brun ex-officio member

Justice Department takes church’s side in COVID 1st Amendment suit

AP:  … The Justice Department took the rare step on Tuesday of weighing in on the side of a Mississippi Christian church where local officials had tried to stop Holy Week services broadcast to congregants sitting in their cars in the parking lot.

As the coronavirus pandemic spread, leaders at Temple Baptist Church in Greenville began holding drive-in services for their congregation on a short-wave radio frequency from inside an empty church save for the preacher.

Arthur Scott, the 82-year-old pastor, said Tuesday that it was a good compromise for his group, a “wonderful way to preach the gospel and still it's like they are there, but you can't go out and see them, but you know they're there.” …

read … Justice Department takes church’s side in 1st Amendment suit

Mental patient arrested for allegedly threatening to blow up hospital, police station

HNN: … Police said 39-year-old Peter Yoo told a doctor that he also wanted to shoot people.

According to officials, Yoo was being treated at a medical center in Kailua for a mental health condition.

Police arrested him on suspicion of first-degree terroristic threatening. …

(Question: Remember Diamond Head incident?)

read … Man arrested for allegedly threatening to blow up hospital, police station

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