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Saturday, April 18, 2020
April 18, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:23 PM :: 1751 Views

Model Shows Hawaii Could Ease Social Distancing in Early May

Crush the Curve: Urgent Steps Hawai‘i Can Take to Contain the Covid-19 Pandemic

259 Candidates File for Election

Judiciary Postpones Trials Until End of May

COVID Count: 919 Tests, 21 New Cases, 20 Released

18 Ways To Get Hawaii Back On Its Feet Again

CB: … According to the state Department of Labor, almost 250,000 people have lost their jobs over the past few weeks because of Gov. David Ige’s statewide shutdown — and the state is in a poor position to do anything about it.

State tax revenues, meanwhile, are expected to fall by up to 25%. According to a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii analysis, that would create a budget deficit for fiscal 2021 of between $710 million to $1.8 billion, undoubtedly forcing drastic budget cuts at a time when emergency services could be in extremely high demand.

But just as government policies in reaction to the pandemic have worsened this mess, there are some ways our lawmakers could help the state pull out of this budgetary tailspin and avoid prolonged economic pain and suffering.

the governor should stick by his proposal to cut the salaries of public employees by 20%. In the past he has ordered departmental budget cuts —- of 10% in fiscal 2018 and 5% in fiscal 2019 —- but either way would be desirable.

He needs to trim government expenses ASAP, though the current situation might require some discretion as to which department budgets are cut.

read … 18 Ways To Get Hawaii Back On Its Feet Again

Serving their Union Masters: Senators Blast Governor’s Plan to Cut HGEA, HSTA, UPW Salaries   

CB: … This week, after a meeting with the governor regarding proposed pay cuts, Dela Cruz asked departments for budget scenarios that the Legislature can use to build a new budget that can weather the economic fallout from the pandemic.

At Friday’s hearing, he accused Takayama of inappropriately continuing to filter all agency responses.

“I thought we’ve been through this drill already,” Dela Cruz said. “If there is a sense of urgency, I don’t understand why you continue to filter and censor information.”

Takayama said that she and the Department of Budget and Finance want to make sure the information is accurate before sending it to the committee.

In March before the pandemic ramped up in Hawaii, Takayama told departments not to respond to the Senate with their plans on how they would deal with COVID-19 and how the virus could affect their budgets. She’s said at past meetings that she wants all the departments to be on the same page.

But there’s still miscommunication between the departments and slow movement on actions to help the state cope with virus related business, like getting more workers to overburdened unemployment offices.

In other committee meetings in the past month, department heads have told the senators that they are still waiting on direction from Takayama. In other instances, Takayama has said that they should be taking action themselves.

When the senators pressed her on the budget information on Friday, Takayama said, “I think you’re taking it wrong.”

“We want to make sure we follow our usual policy,” she said.

“These are not usual times,” Sen. Michelle Kidani told her.

Dela Cruz considered invoking a rarely used law that allows the committee to subpoena the government for information.

“Why do you want to make this so difficult?” he asked Takayama.

“I don’t think we are making this more difficult,” she said.

That ticked off Kidani.

“Do you realize there are people hurting out there, Linda?” Kidani said, adding that lawmakers were left out of discussions to cut pay for state employees. “And you think you aren’t obstructing information? Come on.”

The slow trickle of information coming from the administration was a primary reason why Senate President Ron Kouchi set up the committee in the first place. The senators have repeatedly cited a law  that requires the state to supply the Legislature with information when asked….

KHON: Takayama said again that she would talk to BNF and get the budget information to the Special Senate Committee on COVID-19 on Monday

HNN: "We all don’t want the 20% furloughs that was discussed. We want to be able to look to provide options and yet somehow you’re determined not to allow that to happen.”

read … Things Are Not Good Between Hawaii Senators And The Governor

Hawaii has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, USA Today reports

SA: … Hawaii’s rate of 21.7% topped Michigan at 21% and Rhode Island at 20.6%.

The lowest rates were 4.9% for South Dakota followed by 5.8% for West Virginia and 6.2% for Florida.

Hawaii’s rate during the period is up from 2.7% in the first two months of this year.

USA Today compiled state unemployment claim totals published by the U.S. Department of Labor for the week ended April 11 and three preceding weeks. The newspaper then divided the four-week total by the most recent workforce tallies available by state, which was in February, to get a rough unemployment rate.

That Hawaii’s rate topped every other state wasn’t surprising to Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations officials, given the local economy’s high dependence on one industry — tourism — that has almost completely seized up.

“We knew early on that Hawaii was going to get hit very hard, so we’re not surprised that some analysts have concluded that we have the highest percentage of the workforce filing for benefits,” said Bill Kunstman, DLIR spokesman. “When we passed 200,000 filings in early April, we were flabbergasted at the magnitude of the situation.”…

Kunstman added that it is highly likely USA Today totals are incomplete because the federal data is missing some claims.

Also, unemployment filings have continued pouring in this week, which means Hawaii’s unemployment rate has risen above the four-week USA Today snapshot that was based on 145,205 claims.

read … Its an undercount

Dozens of emergency homeless shelters built in Hilo parking lot

KITV: … A new emergency shelter program kicked off today with the construction of 32 shelters at the NAS Pool parking lot. More than 50 volunteers, including members of the Hawaii County Fire Department's Recruit Class, pitched in to build the shelters, with guidance from HPM Building Supply.

The temporary shelters measure 10 x 8 feet, and will be ready for occupants by early next week. They're designed to accommodate the most vulnerable homeless individuals that are frail, elderly or have pre-existing conditions. Each unit can house up to two people. About 40 eligible individuals have been identified to stay in the units….

Sharon Hirota, the Mayor’s Executive Assistant in charge of homelessness issues, thanked the County Department of Parks and Recreation for making the site available for this project.  Project participants will have access to the restrooms and showers at the NAS Pool, which is currently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(It is amazing how easily this is done when the decision to do it is made.  The ONLY problem other islands have it the wrong leadership.)

read … Genius at Work

Maui Council Priority-- Near ban on plastic disposable utensils OK’d

MN: …The Maui County Council gave unanimous final approval Friday to a bill that bans nearly all sales and use of plastic disposable food ware in Maui County.

The measure, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2022, heads to Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino’s desk for approval.

In another watched item in Friday’s meeting, the council deferred action on a measure to place a county manager charter amendment on the November ballot.

With the passage of the plastics bill, food providers will be prohibited from selling, using and providing plastic disposable food ware, including forks, knives, spoons, straws, coffee stirrers, cocktail picks and chopsticks. Those items cannot be used at county facilities or county-sponsored or -permitted events or concessions.

Food providers are allowed to offer nonplastic alternative utensils but only upon request or approval of the customer….

read … Near ban on plastic disposable utensils OK’d …

Governor Allows Bars to Reopen for Take-out Liquor Sales

KHON: … Hawaii Governor David Ige signed the attached Executive Order (No. 20-04) that authorizes liquor licensees to sell unopened beer, unopened wine, or pre-packaged cocktails with food for pick up, delivery, take out, or other means to be consumed off the licensed premises.

The Executive Order also authorizes the Honolulu Liquor Commission to waive, suspend, or postpone any deadlines or administrative procedures as it relates to licenses or classes.

“The Honolulu Liquor Commission appreciates the temporary relief provided to our licensees by the Governor’s Executive Order,” said Franklin Don Pacarro, Jr., Liquor Control Administrator of the Honolulu Liquor Commission. “The ability to provide unopened alcohol products with takeout food orders makes practical sense, with no appreciable negative impact to the health and safety of the community.”

This Order is in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 30.

The Honolulu Liquor Commission office is closed to comply with the Mayor’s Stay at Home Order. Individual Permits A, B, C, D are being accepted by email. The office is scheduled to re-open on Friday, May 1. Please continue to visit honolulu.gov/liq for updated information. …

read … Takeout liquor sales allowed during Stay at Home Order

Domestic Violence Shelter Flooded with Calls

MN: … The agency’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline is receiving 30 to 50 calls a day, up from 15 to 20 calls previously, Sanoe Ka’aihue said….Women Helping Women needs exceed its 26 beds…

While other crimes might decrease amid the COVID-19 pandemic, “that definitely does not apply to domestic violence,” Sanoe Ka’aihue said.

“We’re expecting a larger wave,” she said.

Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said last week that police are watching the number of domestic violence calls, recognizing that domestic conflicts might become more heated be are in effect.

Domestic violence reports are usually in the top five or 10 in number of calls requiring officers’ response, Faaumu said.

“It’s never off the top 10 calls,” he said….

read … Shelter expecting ‘uptick’ in abuse

With schools closed, parents are navigating a new reality in which they’re tasked with steering their children’s education.

CB: … Hawaii public schools are now closed through the rest of the school year, which ends May 28. There is no telling if they will be on track to re-open as scheduled come August given the changing COVID-19 situation.

That means more of a strain on parents.

“It’s not like I can hand them their schoolwork, leave for a few minutes, and expect them to finish it on their own,” said Jim. “Many times I want to join in their laziness and nap this pandemic away, but I try my best not to give in and push myself to help them get into that same mentality they would have when they’re at school.”

Yamauchi, who works in children’s mental health at the state Department of Health and also teaches at University of Hawaii, says her daughter is an independent learner who can be challenged with more reading. But subjects like math are a little dicier.

“If I knew for sure she’d go back to school in August, I’d feel more confident she’d catch up,” she said. “I keep thinking, I just need to get to May, but even May doesn’t seem like the light at the end of the tunnel.” ….

At Waipahu Elementary, a school with a large immigrant population that has traditionally relied on home visits to encourage kids to keep coming to school, Vice Principal James Suster said communication with parents is one of the biggest challenges during the shutdown. While many schools send emails, many of his parents rely on phone calls.

“Some ask, when is school starting again?” he said. “They have no clue of what’s going on, even in the news. They’ll ask, can I come in to pick up stuff? You can tell with these phone calls, they haven’t been able to access any (new information).”…

read … With schools closed, parents are navigating a new reality in which they’re tasked with steering their children’s education.

Lassner: ‘Uncomfortable’ changes ahead at UH

HTH: … “Let me say, we are committed to deliver a high quality UH education, and we have no intention of refunding tuition and academic fees that are dedicated to the cost of delivering education. That work continues,” UH President David Lassner said Thursday in and update to the Board of Regents….

Lassner said there was no cost savings associated with moving courses online, and UH has always charged the same tuition regardless of the mode of instruction.

However, UH assembled teams to take a comprehensive look at academic and student-related fees and identified those that could be refunded on a prorated basis….

Outside of tuition, Lassner said room and board are the largest expenses for students at UH-Manoa and UH-Hilo, and those will be refunded on a prorated basis from the time each student vacated their room.

Arrangements also are being made for students who did not return to the campuses after spring break to either pick up their belongings or have them shipped.

He said Hawaii will receive more than $40 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act — $9.99 million from the Governor Education Relief Fund and an estimated $32.6 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Lassner said UH is now beginning conversations with Gov. David Ige’s office regarding the Governor Education Relief Fund, which can be used for early childhood, K-12 or higher education.

UH’s allocation of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund will be divvied up between the system’s 10 campuses. UH-Hilo is estimated to receive nearly $3 million….

read … Lassner: ‘Uncomfortable’ changes ahead at UH

Hawaii’s jail population drops by 619 inmates since March Because Courts Stop Sending Criminals

SA: … “This is due to the huge efforts made by the State Judiciary, county police departments and PSD’s Intake Service Division as they work together to limit the number of people requiring admittance into the jails,” Public Safety said in a news release. “All decreases were pursuant to independently issued court orders.”

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of the prisons or jails statewide, Public Safety said.

An order by the Hawaii Supreme Court set a deadline of Monday, April 20, to have the parties select probation and pretrial inmates for court-considered release.

Prosecutors will have three days to submit their objections. The courts will determine by April 28 who may be considered for release.

The Federal Detention warden agreed to resume accepting up to 100 state Public Safety inmates, which went into effect April 13….

WHT: Couple accused of burglarizing homes amid pandemic to stand trial

read … Hawaii’s jail population drops by 619 inmates since March

Flu cases drop in East Hawaii

HTH: … East Hawaii has had a marked drop in flu cases since measures to prevent COVID-19 have gone into effect.

Chad Shibuya, director of infection control at Hilo Medical Center, said earlier this week that COVID-19 and the flu are both spread mainly through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.

Within three weeks of implementing COVID-19 prevention measures like increased hand-washing and not touching one’s face, and limiting opportunities for people to gather by shutting down schools and businesses, Shibuya said fewer flu cases are being seen in HMC’s emergency department.

“We’ll have an odd one or two (cases) there, but nothing compared to what we were seeing three or four weeks ago.”

The hospital was in the middle of its flu season, Shibuya said, and prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, HMC had about five new flu cases per day….

Of 1,921 specimens tested for influenza that week as part of the DOH’s flu and respiratory illness surveillance program, 80 were positive for the flu….

read … Flu cases drop in East Hawaii

Bailed Out Airlines Ask Permission to Cut Hawaii Service

KTUU: … Below are cities in which airlines are asking for exemptions to reduce or eliminate service, at least temporarily:…

CNN: Canada will require all air travelers to wear face masks

read … Bailed Out

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