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Wednesday, March 18, 2020
March 18, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:54 PM :: 2519 Views

Ige Orders Bars, Restaurants to Close--Asks Tourists to Stay Away

COVID Circulating at Capitol? DoH Silent

Scams Galore: Hi-Tech Tax Credit Crowd Gets in to Digital Currency

Katherine Kealoha Surrenders Law License

Crushed by COVID? Small Businesses Have Only Hours to Apply for Aid

HSTA Files Grievance over COVID Plan

Coronavirus: Modern Research & Chinese Medicine

Imua TMT Panel Discussion -- Live and Interactive

Will Corona Virus Kill Hawaii’s health care system?

SA: … Right now, Hawaii physician supply has become increasingly short of what’s needed statewide by a whopping 820 doctors, according to the University of Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment.

Already shorthanded, we are now looking suddenly at the pointy end of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic coming straight at us full frontal, and it ain’t looking good. Germany President Angela Merkel recently said 60-70% of Germans could be infected: “The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system.”

Oops, way too late here. We are already overburdened.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Nebraska BioContainment Unit estimate only 30% to be infected here, maybe 1% mortality but 3% for elderly over age 65.

Still, not comforting at all.

And it gets worse: 20% of Hawaii physicians, 595 docs, are over age 65 (33% on the Big Island). If only 20% of those docs get sick, and only 2% die, that’s 178 sick and six dead. Those not too sick still shed the virus for five-plus weeks, and sick ones may be out for months. They’ll be isolated from patient care, further overloading the already struggling system, and all that time, office expenses keep mounting and no revenue comes in….

The American College of Surgeons now “recommends each hospital and surgeon should … plan to minimize, postpone, or cancel electively scheduled operations, endoscopies, or other invasive procedures” — i.e., immediately shut down the vast majority of surgical practice, until “we can be confident that our health care infrastructure can support a potentially rapid and overwhelming uptick in critical patient care needs.”

A lot of docs are barely getting by, hanging on by fingertips to practices on the edge of running financially in the red, cursing all the obstacles they face practicing in Hawaii that are dragging them down from doing what they love. That was barely “sustainable,” but now this is career-ending. Suddenly….

read … Don’t kill Hawaii’s health care system

Surge of patients could cripple isle hospitals

SA: … The situation might get substantially worse if the state doesn’t “flatten the curve” of infection now, with an estimated 40% of the adult population potentially being infected over a year in a moderate-case scenario, according to a ProPublica analysis based on a model by the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Over 12 months Honolulu hospitals could get an estimated 93,700 coronavirus patients, requiring 3,120 beds, nearly four times the number of available beds, based on moderate estimates. That would overwhelm intensive care units that have an average 73 available beds, 9.3 times times fewer than what is needed, the data shows.

The state currently has 340 intensive care unit beds and 561 ventilators — machines that provide oxygen for patients unable to breathe on their own in severe respiratory distress, according to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii….

read … Surge of patients could cripple isle hospitals

Hawaii Co Council Meetings Will Continue, Public Excluded, Press May be Excluded, Written Testimony Will be Posted When we get Around to it

WHT: … They say you can’t fight city hall. In these uncertain times, you can hardly even go there.

Starting with next week’s meetings, the Hawaii County Council will limit public participation in order to create social distancing to help curtail the spread of coronavirus. Live-streaming of the meetings on the County Council website and broadcasting afterward on Na Leo TV, however, will continue….

Under the new procedure, made allowable under the state Sunshine Law by a supplementary emergency proclamation Gov. David Ige signed Monday, council members will be split between the West Hawaii Civic Center and the county building in Hilo, Chung said. Committee meetings and the council meeting will be scheduled on a single day, instead of the usual two days….

The public will not be allowed in the room. Satellite videoconference sites in Waimea, Kohala, Puna and Naalehu will be closed.

There will be no oral testimony. Instead, written testimony on agenda items will be accepted before noon on the business day before the meeting via email (, fax (961-8912) or postal mail (County Clerk’s Office, 25 Aupuni St., Hilo, HI 96720)….

Henricks said testimony will ultimately be posted in the council’s official record, indexed to the original bill, resolution or communication, available online, as is done now. It won’t happen right away, however.

“They’re part of post-meeting actions that we keep up with as time permits,” he said, “but they will eventually be part of the record.”

Ige’s supplemental proclamation loosens Sunshine Law restrictions “to the extent necessary to enable boards to conduct business in person or through remote technology without holding meetings open to the public.”

“Boards shall consider reasonable measures to allow public participation consistent with social distancing practices, such as providing notice of meetings, allowing submission of written testimony on agendized items, live streaming meetings and posting minutes of meetings online,” the supplemental proclamation reads. “No board deliberation or action shall be invalid, however, if such measures are not taken.”

Jeff Portnoy, a First Amendment attorney who frequently represents the media, including West Hawaii Today, when seeking access to government records and meetings, called the governor’s proclamation “over-broad,” and “kind of like martial law.” He sees the county’s decision as understandable and more reasonable, especially if, as is being discussed between West Hawaii Today and Chung, a media representative is allowed in the room….

read … Council closing meetings; Meeting live-streams to continue, but no oral testimony

Navatek Spoons out $700K in Campaign Contributions—Only Makes News When they Give to a Republican

CB: … A Civil Beat analysis of Federal Election Commission data shows Kao and top executives from Navatek, which was born out of Pacific Marine & Supply Co., donated nearly $450,000 to federal candidates and causes from 2002 to 2019.

When combined with the contributions of principals from Pacific Marine and its various offshoots and affiliates that number increases to more than $700,000.

But it’s the donations from Kao and other Navatek principals that stick out most.

Nearly 75% of contributions were made between 2013 and 2019. That increase comes after the December 2012 death of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, Hawaii’s most powerful politician who steered billions of dollars into the Aloha State through his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In the years since Inouye died, Navatek executives donated heavily to other members of Hawaii’s federal delegation, including tens of thousands of dollars to Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai, both of whom served on the House Armed Services Committee.

Kao and his employees also bet big on U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to replace Inouye and, like him, is now on the Appropriations Committee.

Federal Election Commission records show Schatz has received nearly $90,000 from Kao and others who list Navatek as their employer.

Navatek CEO Martin Kao explained the company’s need to expand its campaign contributions following the death of Sen. Dan Inouye in an interview on Hawaii News Now in 2013….

They donated another $125,000 to political action committees supporting other key lawmakers who have their fingers on the strings of the federal purse, including Democrats Dick Durbin, Tammy Baldwin, Chris Coons, Jack Reed, Jeanne Shaheen and Jeff Merkley.

Recently they began donating generously to Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and appear to be tied to dark money contributions that have drawn a complaint to the FEC from the watchdog Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C.

Each senator has a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and many of them also represent states where Navatek has opened satellite offices.

“What these people from Navatek did was diversified their political portfolio rather than stake all their bets on one senator,” said John Hart, who’s the chairman of Hawaii Pacific University’s communication department and a long-time political observer. “They are giving a lot of money to a lot of different people and they are focusing on appropriations. In other words, they are going where the money is.”…

Feb 3, 2020: Sen Susan Collins Campaign Is Being Helped by a Mysterious Hawaii Company

read … This Hawaii Defense Contractor Has Emerged As A Major Political Player

Major Honolulu mayoral campaigns halt or slow down

SA: … Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced Tuesday that she is suspending all campaign activities effective immediately.

Fellow candidates Keith Amemiya, Rick Blangiardi, Choon James and Kym Pine all said they are doing so as well.

The campaign said it will reschedule the events when health officials determine it’s safe to hold public gatherings….

The deadline to file to run for office this year is June 2….

read … Major Honolulu mayoral campaigns halt or slow down

Potentially coronavirus-infected homeless being turned back out onto streets without medical evaluation

SA: … Discussions are underway to triage and quarantine homeless people who test positive for the novel coronavirus in a 26-room, three-story building behind the Institute for Human Services’ women’s shelter on Kaamahu Place in Iwilei.

IHS already has been screening clients coming into it’s separate men’s and women’s shelters since last week. But now that there is “community spread” of the virus, starting Wednesday all 400 clients in IHS’s facilities from Sand Island to specialty homeless homes around Oahu will be temperature checked and assessed every day, including flu tests at IHS’ medical clinics for people who show symptoms.

But there is no way to quarantine clients who may possibly test positive for the coronavirus in the larger men’s and women’s shelters.

“Normally people self isolate in their home,” said Connie Mitchell, IHS’ executive director. “That (Kaamahu Place building) would be an excellent place for that to happen.” ….

Punawai Rest Stop on Kuwili Steet has been assessing people entering the homeless hygiene center but there is no place to isolate possible coronavirus patients because the two stories of future housing are still being built out.

Anyone coming into Punawai who shows a fever or symptoms are “being turned away and asked to seek medical treatment, Manahan said.  “What happens after that, we don’t know,” he said….

read … Iwilei building could become quarantine center for coronavirus-infected homeless

Soft on Crime: Corona Virus Solution is to Let Lots and Lots of Criminals Back out onto Street

CB: … Reduce Prison Population – This will help avoid outbreaks that will further strain our healthcare systems. It includes a moratorium on “sit-lie” bans, which gives criminal misdemeanors to individuals who are poor and on the street, often leading to jail time. Also, end pre-trial detention.

In the long-term, we must raise the minimum wage, preserve and expand our public housing stock, legislate family leave and sick leave for all, and more, to take meaningful steps to protect all of Hawaii’s residents.

To be clear, these actions are the floor, not the ceiling….

(Wisdom: Actually prisoners are safest from Corona locked up in  uh …’isolation’… away from the public.)

read … What Your UH Manoa Tuition Dollars are Paying For

NC Corona Patient Came Home from Hawaii Sick

HCHN: … Jeff Hensley wasn’t feeling well when his plane touched down in Raleigh on March 7.

He had just returned from Hawaii with all of the symptoms of coronavirus — a cough, fatigue, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath — everything except one.

He didn’t have a fever….

On Thursday, March 12 — eight days after Jeff Hensley started feeling sick — the fever finally struck.

When it did, he drove himself to Cape Fear Valley’s Health Pavilion North in neighboring Cumberland County. There, Toni Hensley said, her husband sat for seven hours waiting in isolation to be tested for COVID-19.

He returned home afterward, under orders to remain in isolation. The next day, Toni Hensley said, her husband received a phone call saying he had tested presumptively positive for the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since confirmed the positive test, she said….

read … Wife of Harnett County man with coronavirus says testing should have been done sooner

Tourism shocks could cost tens of thousands of jobs

SA: … Davis said Arival, a destination experience company, reports that the nation’s activities and attractions industry has seen an average 42% drop in bookings. As such, 1 in 4 operators risk failure in the next three months, she said.

Peter O’Riordan, owner/operator of Sea Maui, said Ige took a step in the right direction, but said “clearer verbiage” might be needed to convince some people to comply.

O’Riordan already had closed his snorkeling and catamaran operation before Ige’s Tuesday address and said it would remain shuttered through at least April 1. He and four of his workers had to get tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday after the state Department of Health notified them that a customer had exposed them to the new coronavirus ….

read … Tourism shocks could cost tens of thousands of jobs

Local construction industry may bear out in COVID-19 fallout

SA: … Construction has been one of the top five contributors to the state’s gross domestic product, or economic output, in recent years.

Generally, the industry is one of the most cyclical, with booms and busts off broad economic cycles. Yet there is some optimism at the moment that construction — close to a $10 billion industry in Hawaii — might stand up relatively well even as retailers, restaurants, airlines, hotels and visitor attractions cut back operations in response to the spread of COVID-19.

“I don’t see a case for shutting down construction activity as you would see in food service,” said local economist Paul Brewbaker of TZ Economics….

read … Local construction industry may bear out in COVID-19 fallout

Another Side To The HPU Saga

CB: …In 40 years of teaching in public and private universities, I have never encountered an institution where faculty and staff salaries were frozen for almost a decade.

Moreover, the salary freeze occurred while administrative salaries rose to between $250,000 to $300,000 a year, several times higher than HPU’s average faculty salary.

As the story reports, “HPU’s enrollment … declined … from a high of 10,331 in 2010-11 to a low of 4,884 in 2017-18. And as the number of students has decreased, so has this big source of revenue.”

To compensate for less revenue, HPU increased tuition and fees to $27,493 in 2019-2020 with room and board costing $17,953. The full cost of attending HPU rose to $45,446 a year, or $181,784 for a four-year degree (HPU is no longer the bargain it once was). While HPU’s tuition is still lower than many private nonprofit colleges in California and the Pacific Northwest, these lower costs come on the backs of faculty and staff whose salaries are frozen….

AP: Get out of jail? Inmates fearful of (smiling at) coronavirus argue for release

read … Another Side To The HPU Saga

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