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Tuesday, April 21, 2020
April 21, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:51 PM :: 5815 Views

Hawaii is State Slowing Down the Most During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kahuku Mother Sues Board of Education over Secret, Closed-Door Meeting and Vote

Global Warmers Feeling Forgotten: Civil Beat Agrees to Help

COVID Count -- 2 Deaths -- 2 New Cases -- 14 Recover

Prisoners ARE being released from jail because of pandemic --- One of them is now charged with sex assault

HTH: … A 37-year-old Hilo man who was released from jail April 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic is back behind bars after a federal DNA database identified him as the suspect of an alleged sexual assault that occurred early last year. 

Durrell Lee Alfonso Davis is charged with second-degree sexual assault, a Class B felony punishable by a 10-year-prison term upon conviction, and third-degree theft, a misdemeanor, for the Jan. 21, 2019, incident….

Davis, who was released last week from Hawaii Community Correctional Center for a probation violation on a burglary conviction, was apprehended on the new charges Friday. A warrant for Davis’ arrest was issued after police and prosecutors received results from the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System database identifying him as the person whose semen was found in a condom at the site of the alleged sex assault.

At Davis’ initial court appearance Monday, Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach confirmed his bail at $25,000 and ordered him to return at 2 p.m. Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

Davis remains in custody at HCCC….

April 20, 2020: Arrests Cut down 33% to Keep COVID out of Jails

April 10, 2020: Release of inmates ‘a work in progress’

read … Man released from jail because of pandemic charged with sex assault

One Note Band: DoH Focus on Discouraging use of Antibody Tests

HPR: …Doctors of Waikiki, a private practice clinic, started administering COVID-19 antibody tests specifically to first responders. It has purchased about 15,000 antibody tests from Summit Diagnostic Labs and has tested over 200 people.

Dr. Tony Trpkovski, an internal medicine physician with Doctors of Waikiki, said the clinic was looking for a different way to identify people who have been exposed to coronavirus, and heavily researched which antibody test to buy.

“We’re going to help pull out of the community, first responders, people actually working actively with patients in the field because if they’re infected, that’s horrible. They’re going to infect more people,” he said.

“The only tools we have besides social distancing, handwashing, masks is the PCR test and these antibody tests. We have to use what’s at our disposal.”

The test samples the patient’s blood with a finger prick and can process the results in under five minutes….

He said those coming back positive after the antibody test are then also given a standard PCR test to check if they are currently infected. If the PCR test comes back negative, the patient could return to work, possibly with immunity.

However, Dr. Edward Desmond, the health department’s laboratories chief, said the DOH is not advocating the use of antibody tests or immediately getting antibody tests of its own. 

“We don't yet know what are the performance characteristics for any of the antibody tests. We're not sure yet about how accurate they are. We don't know whether they're always going to give you a positive result,” he said.

“When the patient has a COVID infection, we don't really know for sure that they're going to give you a negative result when somebody has had an unrelated coronavirus infection. Because of the uncertainty about the performance characteristics of the antibody tests, we're not advocating for that at this time.” ….

Desmond said the health department is waiting for the evaluations before it would start to administer antibody tests itself. While the DOH is not stopping private medical practices from offering antibody testing, he said he hopes doctors are explaining the test accurately to patients.

“I hope that patients are not being misled to think that they are a diagnostic test, because they're not,” he said….

March 25, 2020: VIDEO: Hawaii DoH Official Goes on 10-minute Rant Against Corona Testing

read … Experts Warn Against Using Antibody Tests As It Becomes Available In Hawaii

Beach Ban: All Sister Isle Mayors have questions—Caldwell Reopens Parks ‘for Exercise’

HNN: … People are frustrated and confused, which includes at least two of Hawaii’s mayors.

Right now, the Ige Administration says the order lets counties use discretion to allow certain activities; however, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino says the language makes it difficult to determine whether the beaches are legally within his jurisdiction.

“I think the governor must clearly define which of the beaches, which are owned by the state, (exercise) should be allowed,” said Victorino. “It’s still very unclear because they are saying they own all the beaches, but where is the beach line? The vegetation and high water mark changes day-to-day at many of our beaches.”

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami also has questions.

“It is a top priority for our community and our goal is to have clarification on that rule,” said Kawakami in a video statement Monday.

Mayor Victorino says officers are confused and it’s been tough to enforce.

read … Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami also has questions.

COVID: What Cost?

SA: … On one level, the protests that have flared against the stay-at-home orders nationwide amount to a primal scream against conditions that have been devastating to millions of people.

Finding the right balance, weighing public-health risk against economic peril and loss of freedoms, is the excruciatingly difficult problem Hawaii and other states now face….

…Hawaii has held its number of cases below 600 and fatalities to 10 thus far, COVID-19 is a disease that public health agencies must work to avert.

But at what cost? Critics of the restrictions of public movement are asking that question, because what also makes this scourge so fearsome is its economic repercussions.

Although so far Hawaii has escaped the brunt of the disease itself, the economic damage has been brutal, owing to the state’s dependence on tourism. The same barriers that have kept out travelers also have given Hawaii its sad ranking near the top of the nation for the most job losses.

And beyond even the plunge into unemployment, there is the basic civil-liberties question that figures in most policy debates.

Both of these issues to varying degrees factored into Honolulu’s small but pointed protest on Sunday.

A caravan of some 50 vehicles crossed Oahu, traveling from the state Capitol to Kapolei, displaying messages about the need to “reopen” the country. Participants objected to the governmental intrusion in business and personal activities….

read … Limits tolerable for safety, for now

Hawaii unemployment fund could run out in 3 weeks, state could seek federal loan

PBN: … Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami expects the funds to be depleted by May 10, a spokesman confirmed to Pacific Business News on Monday.

House Speaker Scott Saiki said if that projection is accurate, the Labor Department would look to apply for a zero-interest loan from the federal government. Saiki said the assumption is that such federal loans will be forgiven.

Hawaii, which last week tallied more than 244,000 unemployment claims since early March, wouldn’t be alone in asking the federal government to replenish a depleted jobless fund — New York has already asked for a $4 billion no-interest loan to cover its payments and The Wall Street Journal reports other states are expected to follow suit.

State Tax Director Rona Suzuki on Monday told the House Select Committee on COVID Economic Impact & Preparedness that the state is looking at whether the nearly $900 million in federal aid the state is set to receive from the CARES Act can be used to keep the unemployment fund afloat.

The $2.1 billion in U.S. Small Business Administration paycheck protection loans for 11,553 small businesses in the Islands is also expected to offset the high number of unemployment claims — the loans are intended to cover eight weeks of payroll expenses for companies

“We estimate about 170,000 employees are employed by those businesses, said Alan Oshima, who was named economic recovery and resiliency navigator by Gov. David Ige. “And the condition for turning [the loans’ into grants is retention of employment. So ]it’s the employees[ are under UI that we drop off the UI program, at least for the eight weeks, that may make a material difference in what we have to hold in reserve for the COVID relief funds.”

Peter Ho, chairman, president and CEO of Bank of Hawaii and co-chair of the House committee, cautioned that things may not be so simple when workers weigh whether to go off unemployment to go back to work for what may be only eight weeks.

“For instance, people who have been laid off from these businesses who subsequently got PPP funding may not choose, or may not wish, to drop off of the UI and go back onto PPP subsidy because that's an eight-week program versus what they have, and does not have ]an increased federal unemployment payment[,” he said.

For businesses that are unable to operate, especially those tied to the tourism industry, it may cost them more to bring people back, even with the PPP money, because of payroll taxes and the like, he said….

HPR: Stimulus Checks Won't Cover Even A Month's Expenses in Hawaii

SA: Hawaii unemployment checks, except for gig workers, will include extra $600 federal weekly payment starting Wednesday  

KHON: Stay at home extension will stress unemployment funds, but federal assistance is on the way

read … Hawaii unemployment fund could run out in 3 weeks, state could seek federal loan

HMSA Exec in Control of Plan  -- Gradual Lifting of Hawaii’s economy from coronavirus shutdown to start within a month

SA: … Certain places in Hawaii closed to curtail COVID-19 could begin to reopen within a month.

However, lifting restrictions that have crushed the state economy is expected to be a gradual process that takes place at different times for different parts of the state, establishments and industries.

Mark Mugiishi, president and CEO of the Hawaii Medical Service Association, announced the projected timetable Monday as a member of a new team assembled to devise and execute the reopening plan….

(Translation  The plan is designed to safeguard HMSA interests at the expense of all others.)

Mugiishi and others on the team are not yet forecasting which types of businesses or places would likely reopen first.

A gradual reopening is projected to start within a month at certain places, maybe parks or restaurants hypothetically, and expand as capacity for screening, testing and monitoring grows, Mugiishi said. He also said reopening is envisioned on different islands at different times….

A national guideline for allowing restrictions to be lifted includes a “downward trajectory” of COVID-19 cases over two weeks, which parts of Hawaii can claim to have achieved. But new regulations to keep the virus from proliferating again need to be in place first.

Gov. David Ige said he understands the frustration of people, including protesters who demonstrated Sunday on Oahu, who want stay-at-home and work-at-home restrictions lifted now given Hawaii’s low rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

“We’ve seen the decline in business activity, and the impacts it’s had with Hawaii going from one of the states with the lowest unemployment rates to the state with the highest unemployment rate, really, in the span of four to six weeks,” he said Monday during a briefing. “We want to — when the conditions are right — be able to restore to some normalcy activity in our community.”…

Other people on the team include Ige, state House Speaker Scott Saiki, state Senate President Ron Kouchi, Queen’s Health Systems CEO Jill Hoggard Green, Hawaii Pacific Health CEO Ray Vara and Mary Boland, dean of the University of Hawaii School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. Two bank CEOs also are on the team: Bob Harrison of First Hawaiian Bank and Peter Ho of Bank of Hawaii….

VIDEO: Plan To Reopen Hawaii Economy Presented

HNN: Hawaiian Airlines to get $650M in federal aid to continue operating

read … Jump-starting Hawaii’s economy from coronavirus shutdown to start within a month

Congressional delegation wants effective school plan from DOE

KHON:  …Federal leaders are asking the state Department of Education to ensure it’s ready to provide effective schooling — not just enrichment — for Hawaii’s 180,000 public school students if classrooms cannot reopen.

In a letter signed by all four of Hawaii’s congressional delegates, the DOE superintendent is asked to respond to a series of specific questions about how distance learning is being improved to ensure no one is left behind. The delegation wants to see drastic improvements in time for the summer and fall sessions, with $43 million in federal dollars available to support it….

KHON2 has asked the D.O.E. for their response to the letter and will post that when we get it….

PDF: Letter

read … Congressional delegation wants effective school plan from DOE

HPD Writes 2,800 Tickets for Emergency Order Violations

HNN: … On Oahu, the Honolulu Police Department says it does not compare the number of new tickets issued each day, but there was a shift from warnings to citations about a week ago. As of Monday, officers issued about 7,700 warnings and 28-hundred citations for violations of the emergency order. A spokeswoman says most but not all of the warnings and citations were issued for being in parks that were closed….

read … HPD shifting from warnings to citations for violations of the emergency order

Maui Liquor Comm. Harasses Local Distillery over Hand Sanitizer Giveaway

SA: … Maui Brewing Co., which has donated more than 1,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to first responders and others since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, is being investigated by the Maui County Liquor Control Commission for giving away the product with purchase to customers.

Under the rules by the Department of Liquor Control, it is unlawful to “give any premium or free goods of intoxicating liquor or other merchandise in connection with the sale of any intoxicating liquor or to offer or to provide any premium or free goods of intoxicating liquor in connection with the sale of other merchandise.”

Garrett Marrero, CEO of Maui Brewing, said he received a call Sunday from a liquor control officer informing him of the investigation stemming from the free hand sanitizer offer with purchase of beer…. 

MN: Maui Brewing under investigation over hand sanitizer promo

read … Harassment

During COVID, Solar Schemers Grab for Megabux

CB: … Hawaiian Electric is scheduled to unveil its latest round of winning bids – the result of the biggest request for proposals in the company’s history –  on May 8.

On Oahu alone, the company expects the new phase to result in 20 to 29 contracts with private developers and a total investment of $2.5 billion to $4 billion, including land costs. Projects are expected to occupy some 3,000 acres, the equivalent of 29 Aloha Stadiums. Hawaiian Electric officials have said there’s no plan to delay the announcement, despite the COVID-19 crisis….

Meanwhile, there’s an earlier phase of projects already underway. These include AES Corp.’s Waikoloa Solar and Innergex’s Hale Kuawehi solar farm with battery storage on the Big Island and AES Kuihelani Solar on Maui.

Plus, there are three more in development on Oahu: Hanwha Energy’s Ho’ohana Solar project in central Ohau  and two being built by Clearway Energy, called the Waiawa Solar Power and Mililani I Solar projects….

read … COVID-19 Crisis Poses Risks For Hawaii’s Renewable Energy Plans

Hawaii farmers may shut down due to hardships

KHON: … Hawaii farmers are running out of money and could wind up shutting down, which would hurt our local food supply.

That’s according to the head of the Hawaii Farm bureau, who told the House Select Committee on COVID-19 that many of the farmers rely on hotels, restaurants, and schools to stay in business.

Executive Director Brian Miyamoto says the federal government is helping but that money will probably not be available until next month.

“Our farmers need income now,” said Hawaii Farm Bureau Brian Miyamoto.”If they don’t have an income base, they cannot purchase the seed, the water, the fuel for their tractors, pay their leases, pay their labor. Not planting today means no food tomorrow, next week, next month, and potentially next year. We need our farmers to continue to farm and ranch.”

Miyamoto says most farmers do not qualify for unemployment because their families work the farms….

HPR: 'It Is Getting Critical' As Local Farms Struggle With Loss Of Buyers

HTH: Amid threats to supply chain, officials say Hawaii’s farmers need help

read … Hawaii farmers may shut down due to hardships

Homeless COVID Center was all Fake

HNN: … Dr. Scott Miscovich, cofounder of H4- Hawaii Homeless Heathcare Hui, which operates the onsite urgent care clinic, said those numbers are disappointing considering the investment that’s going into the facility.

“We thought we’d be turning 24 people a day in that institute," he said, “It just turned into no this is more focused on addiction and drug and alcohol and all the people involved don’t have any COVID experience.” …

Meantime, Dr. Miscovich and his team are doing targeted screenings in homeless shelters and encampments on Maui, the Big Island and Molokai. …

On Oahu, Alexander says shelter providers are conducting screenings on site, reconfiguring their facilities to practice social distancing and moving people to ease crowded conditions.

And other U.S. cities are using empty parking lots, stadiums and hotels to temporarily house the homeless to decrease the number of people living in crowded group living situations….

read … Plans for walk-in COVID-19 testing for Oahu homeless scrapped

Tulsi Gabbard Has More Than $640,000 In Presidential Cash

CB: … Those reports show she now has more than $640,000 left over, money that the FEC says can go to pay off her debts, refund her contributors, donate to charity, give to other candidates and causes, or transfer back into her congressional bank account….

There are few revelations in Gabbard’s latest campaign filings about her political future.

Records show she transferred about $26,000 from her presidential campaign to her congressional account, money that appears to have been spent with Perkins Coie, a Seattle law firm that represents the Democratic National Committee.

State Sen. Kai Kahele is running to replace Gabbard in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. So far, he’s the only major candidate to report raising any money for the race.

According to campaign spending reports filed last week, Kahele has nearly $500,000 in his campaign bank account….

read … Tulsi Gabbard Still Has More Than $500,000 In Presidential Cash

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