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Friday, March 27, 2020
March 27, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:34 PM :: 2589 Views

Micronesia Getting 45-Minute COVID Test Results--When will Hawaii Catch Up?

YB Uses COVID as Excuse to Impose Freight Rules it has Wanted for Years

First Arrest for COVID Stay-at-Home Violation? HSTA Member from Anti-Vaxxer School

Hawaii AG: COVID is a Great Excuse to Help Planned Parenthood Make Money Selling Dead Baby Parts

Hawaiian Homes Commission Approves DHHL Loan Deferral

Aircraft Carrier Heads for Guam as 25 Sailors Test Positive

Trump Signs Guam War Claims Legislation

Maui Budget: Property Tax Cut Proposed

CoronaVirus: The Lockdown is Worse than the Disease

PBN: … “We’ve never seen anything like this in the history of the planet,”

That was Gov. David Ige speaking at his Saturday press conference announcing a mandatory two-week self-quarantine for anyone getting off a plane in Hawaii.

He was speaking of the coronavirus itself, and I couldn’t believe my ears.

The history of the planet?

Bubonic Plague wants to know what it needs to do to get remembered, because killing 60% of everyone in Europe apparently wasn’t enough. Small pox and measles are a little miffed, too, since they nearly killed all the Native Hawaiians.

And H1N1 is perplexed. According to CDC figures, Hawaii had 2,221 confirmed cases of that and 13 deaths. It killed more than half a million people around the world in just one year. No one remembers this because it happened in the dim and distant past, way back in 2009-2010. Actually, it’s not a function of time, it’s a function of impact. No one stopped the world for H1N1.

Over the weekend, I asked the governor’s office what projections it was using to guide its decisions. At first, the COVID-19 Task Force replied by email — no name attached — that there were none. Then on Monday, Cindy McMillan, communications director, sent me a three-page document prepared by Hawaii Pacific Health. Using CDC and Johns Hopkins University data tracking cases so far worldwide, it predicts cases soaring here to 5,000 by April 21, and around 40,000 by May 3 — if we do nothing.

But we’ve been doing quite a lot, so I asked the governor’s office follow-up questions:

“Are these the projections the governor’s office is using to guide policy?”

“Slide 3 [projecting that Hawaii hospitalizations will exceed its roughly 250 ICU bed count by April 25] seems most crucial. I see a range of projections for Hawaii ICU admissions based on the U.S. average, Japan and Korea, Singapore. What’s the projected admission rate for Hawaii based on Hawaii’s actions?”

“Lower admission rates have been seen in countries that did not do lockdowns, but rather contact tracing and isolating those who tested positive. Since these methods seem both more effective and less disruptive, was this approach discussed for Hawaii and if so, why was it ruled out?”

“What is the indicator Ige is watching for that will trigger an end the shutdown now underway?”

At press time Wednesday, no answers. I have learned that contact tracing is part of the state’s response from a DOH press conference.

What seems to be happening worldwide is two epidemics. The coronavirus. And an extremely narrow range of policy responses to it. Ige didn’t impose a statewide stay-at-home order because he has historical perspective, it was a political response to the Legislature demanding it, whether it makes sense or not….

tripling of our unemployment rate in three weeks. Businesses are closing, unsure if they’ll reopen. Ball State University economists estimate that 45 days of social distancing will result in nearly 11 million people losing their jobs nationwide. These are public health threats, too, and a mental health crisis in the making. Unemployment is linked to depression, substance abuse, domestic violence, crime, a host of problems; the bankruptcies we could see next are a well-known precipitating event for suicide.

Depending on the speed of the recovery, those miseries could last far longer than this pandemic. Where were these projections when people decided for us that a spiral of increasingly severe shut-downs was our only choice?…

read … Uncertain times, unclear measures in coronavirus pandemic

Honolulu, HART Budgets Face Financial Reckoning—Property Tax Hike Coming?

CB: … Whatever your thoughts are on mandated lockdowns, 14-day quarantines and business closings, one thing is for sure — the economic impact of COVID-19 will require our legislators and elected officials to take a critical look at our county and state budgets.

At the city level, the Honolulu City Council has a strict timeline to meet for next fiscal year’s budgets. An April 1 special budget committee meeting has been cancelled, compressing much-needed work into a shorter timeframe.

The deadline for passing amended budget bills is early June. By that time, we should have a better idea of how much city and state revenues have decreased. Revised projections for the rail surcharge and transient accommodations tax will likely also be available.

In the meantime, however, Council members should look at all aspects of city finances to determine the best way to fiscally prepare for the aftermath of COVID-19.

Council members introduced their first go-round of proposed amendments on March 20. Budget Chair Joey Manahan has proposed over $107 million in budget cuts, including $1.5 million in travel and $88.5 million for mass transit.

He’s also proposed a reduction of $1.5 million in HART salaries and current expenses for government relations and public information….

n addition to looking at particular departments and line items that may be reduced, Council members should look at recent mandates that have not yet been fully implemented and may be postponed.

For example, Bill 68 (2018) regarding annual inspection of all city streams, Bill 70 (2018) regarding restricted parking zones and Bill 39 (2019) regarding lifeguard services may offer opportunities to defer related costs.

Each year certain groups of taxpayers pay reduced real property taxes due to exemptions or deductions. For this fiscal year, the total tax benefits these taxpayers received was $151 million….

read … Honolulu, HART Budgets Face Financial Reckoning

Quarantine Loopholes: 14 Days with Elderly and Pregnant People in your Home

HNN: … There have been many questions about how the state will track those arriving to ensure they’re abiding by the rules.

Right now, it’s unclear how many people are under mandatory quarantine following the first day. Regardless of the number, many believe there are many loop holes in the system.

Edward Bron III just got back to Hawaii from Alaska. He is now required to go into a quarantine for 14 days at home.

“I think it’s very important. I have elderly at my home, and I don’t want to effect them. So I think everyone needs to take it seriously,” Bron said.

Bron says he was handed a form to fill out stating where he was staying and it was verified by his ID.

“They just gave me a piece of paper to read I thought it was kind of laxed. I personally feel if you’re going to do it, I think it should be stricter. My wife is pregnant, I would have loved to gave gotten tested because I don’t want to carry it home," he added….

(Now you know why Chinese people scream ‘This is all fake.’)

Transportation officials said after the form is submitted and they get where they need to be, random phone calls may be conducted to ensure they are still in quarantine.

On Tuesday, the state counted 4,131 arrivals.

State officials say quarantine passengers can still take ride-share or taxis to their designated quarantine areas and they will be checked on by phone call periodically.

Uber and Lyft driver Vincent Ward says the Honolulu airport on the first day of the mandatory quarantine was empty.

“I went to the airport today for two hours. I was 35 of 40 cars. And two hours later, I was still 35 of 40 cars. So that’s when I decided to leave the airport," he said….

read … A noticeably empty airport marks day 1 of Hawaii’s travel quarantine rules

Instant COVID Tests at S Korea Airport

HPR: … Passengers arriving at Hawaii airports are now being sent to 14 days of self-quarantine. On the same day that policy took effect in the state, a different kind of airport screening started in South Korea.

South Korea’s sprawling Incheon International Airport now has 16 open-air testing booths at five locations spread around the airport’s two terminals. The Korea Herald reports they are capable of testing up to 2,000 people a day for COVID-19 — at a pace of testing one person every five minutes.

South Korea has stepped up testing at the airport as well as screening and quarantine requirements. The government reported 104 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday – nearly a third of them detected during airport quarantine screening….

(Waiting 9 days for COVID test result?  Just fly to Seoul.)

Related: Micronesia Getting 45-Minute COVID Test Results--When will Hawaii Catch Up?

read … South Korea Increases Airport Testing for Arrivals

Only 3 Cases—But Police Checkpoints on Kauai

KGI: … Limiting movement is key to keeping community spread of the novel coronavirus at bay.

(IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

Yesterday marked the first day of a state-mandated 14-day quarantine for new arrivals to the island, resident or tourist, through the end of May. And, earlier this week, a work-from-home order was set in place throughout Kaua‘i along with the nightly curfew through the end of April.

With that, the Kaua‘i Police Department has set up checkpoints around the island to ensure residents and tourists are adhering to rules set in place by Mayor Derek Kawakami and Gov. David Ige.

As of Thursday morning, there had been no citations or arrests for violations made to rules implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a KPD spokesperson. But a continued watch that rules are being followed is important, said officials.

“Unfortunately, some bad apples will always ruin the bunch, and enforcement is necessary,” Kawakami said during his Thursday COVID-19 update.

During this update, KPD Chief Todd Raybuck noted that the island’s small health-care system would not be able to handle a quick, mass spread of the virus.

As of Thursday, there were three cases on the island — one resident and two visitors, all remaining in isolation. In total, there have been five confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Kaua‘i. Kawakami said Thursday the two original positive cases, who were visitors, have fully recovered and left the island to return home to the mainland….

Those caught violating the rules could face misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to a year in jail. (Which the ACLU wants to empty of actual criminals to make room for those who challenge the police state.)

Checkpoints are ensuring that those out and about are following rules. People are asked to stay home as much as possible, limiting travel to necessary reasons like picking up groceries, attending doctor appointments or traveling to care for the elderly, disabled or minors. Traveling to part take in outdoor activities like biking, surfing or swimming is allowed while practicing social distancing.

In part, the KPD is also screening incoming calls to determine the level and type of response. Screenings could determine if the proper response is speaking to an officer over the phone, being directed to file a report online or being asked to meet outside the home to ensure proper social distancing.

read … KPD starts stay-at-home enforcement

We’ve Completely Eliminated Tourism: ‘The Process is Going Very Well’

HTH: … The state’s new policy of quarantining air travelers for two weeks already has reduced visitation rates to a trickle.

Zero planes landed at Hilo International Airport Thursday, the day Gov. David Ige’s 14-day quarantine mandate took effect, and only 10 arrived at Kona International Airport, said Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara.

Statewide, arrivals this week dropped by 87 percent compared to last year, Sakahara said.

Now that the quarantines are being enforced, Sakahara said he anticipates visitation rates will drop even further.

“This has never been done in the state of Hawaii, and it’s also never been done by any state in the country,” Sakahara said. “With that being said, the process is going very well.”…

read … Now We Just Need to Get Rid of all the Unemployed People

Green: COVID Hospital Surge Not Here Yet—Maybe Mid April

HNN: … Hawaii has not yet seen a surge of coronavirus cases yet, but Lt. Gov. Josh Green predicts that’s likely to change over the next several weeks.

“Between April 15 and April 25 is when I think we’ll start seeing more hospital activity,” said Green, who’s a physician and is the state’s liaison with the Hawaii health care community as they respond to the pandemic.

(Just like global warming.  The disaster is always coming, never arrives.)

So the state is preparing for that expected influx in cases by conducting an inventory of available hospital beds — and figuring out if a makeshift medical facility in a public venue might be needed.

Statewide, there are a total of 3,069 hospital beds.

On Thursday, Green said about 1,000 of those beds are empty.

In the event they fill up, hospitals could potentially increase capacity by turning rooms used for surgery into additional intensive care units.

“For instance, Hilo Hospital is capable of expanding 67% by using some of their surgical rooms and some of their clinics,” said Green….

read … Just Around the Corner

83K New Unemployment claims, processing for new unemployment checks could take a month

HNN: … The state is overwhelmed by the massive influx of new claims: 82,963 this month so far and 67,071 just this week alone.

State Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami has added about 40 staff members to help process the filings but he warns it could be three to four weeks before checks can go out….

CB: Hawaii Jobless Claims Top 80,000 As Coronavirus Sinks The Economy

read … Due to flood of new claims, processing for new unemployment checks could take a month

Hawaii unemployment fund will burn thru $600M in a few months

SA: … The floodgates haven’t opened wide yet, but the pool of state unemployment insurance money is about to start draining at an incredibly fast rate — so fast that the roughly $600 million fund could be dry several months from now.

Despite the dire sound of such a loss, the growing legion of jobless Hawaii residents shouldn’t worry about money being available to pay them unemployment benefits for up to six months.

“We’re going to be able to pay benefits one way or another,” said Bill Kunstman, spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

That assurance is possible because the state can borrow from the federal government to cover benefit payments until the normal mechanism for building up the fund — employer payroll taxes — recovers along with the broader economy as the government lifts restrictions on business activity put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Murakami said there’s no reliable estimate how fast the fund likely will be depleted because not everyone filing for unemployment qualifies for the $648 maximum weekly benefit, and they might need the benefit for fewer than the maximum 26 weeks.

If everyone who filed for unemployment so far this month got the maximum payment, the fund would be down to nothing in 11 weeks.

“The $594 million that we had in the fund at the start of March will be depleted quickly,” he said….

read … Hawaii unemployment fund will run out, but safety net awaits

Hawaii County’s mayor draws heat for seeking ‘exemptions’ to stay-at-home order

HNN: … Kim, meanwhile, insists he’s working with Gov. David Ige but asking for “flexibility” not exemptions.

“We wanted to point out that bookstores, bicycle shops and garden shops and those things, we would like to be put on essential list and I think most of it has been adjusted to and will take a better look at it,” said Kim….

Kim is 80 and has been hospitalized in the past for heart attacks.

Hawaii News Now asked him why he isn’t working at home.

“People pointed out to me many, many times that I am 80 years old that I’ve had more than health issue, heart being one of them," he said.

“First of all, I would never jeopardize family or workers if I was a threat to them as far as the virus. If you question any of the workers here, I feel very good.”

As for Kim’s political career, he told Hawaii News Now that he still hasn’t made a decision on whether he’ll run for mayor again. This is after he’s been been promising for weeks that he’d make an announcement soon….

read … Hawaii County’s mayor draws heat for seeking ‘exemptions’ to stay-at-home order

Hawaii military deployments upended by coronavirus

SA: … At least 15 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed within the U.S. military in Hawaii, with a sailor assigned to a Pearl Harbor shore command among recent cases.

A service member at Special Operations Command Pacific at Camp H.M. Smith also is part of the list.

But the Army community in Hawaii is by far reporting the most cases — 12 as of this evening.

The potential for the fast-moving virus to spread in the close quarters of ship-based crews had the Navy send the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt to Guam today to test all 5,000 aboard.

A new overseas “stop movement” order put in place by the Pentagon, meanwhile, has raised questions about current deployments of Schofield Barracks soldiers to Thailand and Iraq and Hawaii National Guard soldiers to Afghanistan and left other key Pacific assignments in doubt….

SB: ‘We’re Fucked’: Aircraft Carrier Outbreak Sends Troops Scrambling

AP: Virus Takes Toll on US Military

read … Hawaii military deployments upended by coronavirus

Homeless coronavirus quarantine site in Iwilei expected to open next week

SA: … An empty building behind the Institute for Human Services women’s shelter in Iwilei is expected to open on Tuesday or Wednesday to treat potential homeless people afflicted with the novel coronavirus.

City officials on Tuesday signed a right of entry to allow state Department of Health workers to access the 26-room building at 909 Kaamahu Place, Councilman Joey Manahan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today.

The building is informally known as the “Kaaahi” project after the name of the closest cross street to Kaamahu Place.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is expected to announce details later today.

Because of the lack of sanitation in homeless encampments, concerns have been growing that the novel coronavirus could spread rapidly among Hawaii’s more than 7,000 homeless population.

Hotel workers from Unite Here! Local 5 went into the Kaamahu Place building Tuesday and Wednesday to clean up the 26 rooms that are capable of housing a total of 52 people and did other prep work like installing shower curtains, Manahan said….

read … Homeless coronavirus quarantine site in Iwilei expected to open next week

2 arrested, 70 cited for violating stay-at-home orders, Honolulu police say

SA: … Honolulu police have issued 70 citations and made two arrests for violating the stay-at-home orders put in place to try to to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with most of those people cited in public parks after ignoring officers’ instructions to leave, according to a police spokeswoman.

Arrests were made at a park in Waipahu and another in Kaneohe, and Hawaii County police also reported arresting and charging a Kailua-Kona woman early today for violating the state stay-at-home order. Violating the order is a misdemeanor offense punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and a year in jail.

The Kauai Police Department planned to establish checkpoints around that island starting this morning to enforce the stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. David Ige and Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami….

Related: First Arrest for COVID Stay-at-Home Violation? HSTA Member from Anti-Vaxxer School

read … 2 arrested, 70 cited for violating stay-at-home orders, Honolulu police say

Advocates fear for domestic violence victims who must shelter in place following double homicide in Ewa Beach

SA: … A 21-year-old man is in police custody in connection with the slaying of a 23-year-old woman and her 6-month-old boy Wednesday in Ewa Beach — creating heightened concern about possible dangers to domestic violence victims sheltering in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The domestic violence-related homicide occurred at a unit at 91-214 Hanapouli Circle at the Sun Rise townhome complex near the Ewa Town Center.

Police arrested Kendall Rashad Ramsey, identifying him in an arrest log as the woman’s boyfriend.

Positive identification of the victims are pending, according to the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office.

Advocates say they fear for domestic violence victims as Hawaii’s mandated stay-at-home order continues through April 30.

“This is exactly what we’ve been worrying about at the Domestic Violence Action Center,” said Executive Director Nanci Kriedman. “The escalation of abuse when victims are restricted at home with their abuser.”…

read … Advocates fear for domestic violence victims who must shelter in place following double homicide in Ewa Beach

$2T Stimulus Solves Sunscreen Hysteria Problem

P: … Special deal: Tucked in the final bill is language ensuring that the FDA reviews newer and more novel ingredients for over-the-counter sunscreen products in a timely fashion.

How they got it: The shout-out for sunscreen is part of a long-awaited effort to reform the over-the-counter drug industry, added to the rescue bill amid backing from that industry and various health groups. Besides expanding FDA oversight of over-the-counter products, the provision would streamline the process to change safety labels. Legislation has passed the House and Senate in various forms over the past two years. Last year the Senate easily passed a bill in a 91-2 vote.

In addition to the over-the-counter reforms, the final relief package makes some updates to the Sunscreen Innovation Act, a 2014 bill co-sponsored by McConnell and signed into law by former President Barack Obama. In a statement at the time, McConnell lamented the slow review of applications for sunscreen ingredients that could potentially be more effective at protecting skin, adding that the bill will benefit Kentucky workers that manufacture “innovative sunscreen ingredients at facilities” in the state….

Precisely as Explained: Anti-Sunscreen Hysteria Designed to Force New Products Past FDA

read … Sunscreen

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