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Wednesday, April 22, 2020
April 22, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:48 PM :: 3848 Views

A Low-Risk Plan to Re-Start Hawaii’s Economy Now

UHERO: Hawaii Needs Free Money from the Sky to Support Local Economy

COVID-19 Relief Options Approved by Hawaiian Homes Commission

Hawaii Air Quality Cleanest in the Nation

Ira Einhorn, Earth Day's Dirty Secret

Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion

Hawaii’s Virus Response: ‘Medieval Frankenstein’ Sidelined

CB: … As she choreographs Hawaii’s top team of disease busters, Park has become the center of controversy.  Critics say she has led us down the wrong path in a number of ways — testing, accessibility to data, even her personality gets in the way.

Supporters say she is just the right person for the job and has the credentials to prove it. But she is being undermined in many ways, they say….

In 2017, a state audit found that the Hawaii Health Department’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, under Park’s leadership, did not have a formal communications plan to share news and guidance on disease outbreaks with the public. It also uncovered poor information-sharing practices between the division and other arms of the health department, as well as outside agency officials.

The result, according to the audit, was confusion, discord and delayed or duplicated efforts in the division’s work to halt the spread of disease in the islands….

Criticisms of Park and her coronavirus response echo the audit’s findings. Several people interviewed by Civil Beat said Park is whip-smart, unflappable and devoted to her work, but also insular in her decision-making, dismissive of differing opinions and, at times, condescending.

“I think somewhat there’s an attitude of ‘You’re all amateurs,’” said Dr. David Derauf, a physician and executive director of Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services. “I think that, you know, she’s the professional here. This is her kuleana. This is her program. And she’s a highly intelligent person. But it’s bigger than one person right now. No one person can do this.”

Park’s conservative approach to testing has come under fire, although it is based on CDC guidance to not test people who are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms and can recover at home in isolation. This policy aims to preserve test kits and personal protective equipment that might be needed should the outbreak worsen, she has said.

Many Hawaii doctors say she’s wrong.

“I think it’s fair to say that (Park) probably might be the only individual in the state that has that view,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, who has conducted dozens of drive-thru testing operations with volunteer medical workers across the state. “It’s so opposed to what the world experts are saying that I would classify it as medieval.”

Doctors like Miscovich who want more screening say it’s hard to measure the scope of infection in Hawaii under such narrow testing criteria when the most current research shows that most people infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all….

Park concedes that sometimes things get chaotic in her office. Chronic understaffing has been a problem. The Disease Outbreak Control Division has 64 positions, of which there are 16 vacancies including the senior-level job of investigation branch chief and several administrative positions.

A rotating roster of about 35 unpaid volunteers are helping to fill in the gaps in manpower.

“It’s a lot of different pieces and it looks a bit like Frankenstein,” Park said….

During the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii, Park was frequently a central player at press conferences, on television news specials and in appearances before legislative committees. But more recently she’s been out of sight. Anderson, the DOH director, and Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a doctor who has been openly critical of the DOH testing effort in particular, have fielded most of the question about the virus response.

“She’s being ignored and sidelined,” according to one person who is directly involved in Hawaii’s COVID-19 response. “In many cases she’s not even being invited to take part in policy discussions.”…

Flashback:  VIDEO: Hawaii DoH Official Goes on 10-minute Rant Against Corona Testing

read … She’s Running Hawaii’s Virus Response. But Should We Trust Her?

Japan: Travelers Get COVID Test at Airport—Result within Hours

SA: … Travelers who arrive to Japan relax on temporary cardboard beds after taking a coronavirus test at Narita International Airport near Tokyo. They’re headed to nearby hotels to quarantine until they receive their results, which usually come back within several hours. Japan is requiring tests for people who fly in from dozens of nations, including the U.S., China and Italy….

SA: U.S. OKs 1st coronavirus test that allows self-swab at home

Related: Hawaii: The Road to Corona Recovery Leads Through Japan

read … New use for cardboard

100% Tested Tourists Key to Reopening

SA: … As Hawaii considers opening back up, Vieira said the current emphasis on public health and safety needs to change from enforcement to prevention. Economic recovery plans for travel should emphasize rapid COVID-19 testing, social distancing and other safety protocols, he said.

Vieira envisions a process where every traveler to Hawaii gets tested and must present a negative result before being allowed entry. Once they are here, social distancing policies should be consistent.

“If we have the proper rapid testing and safety protocols in place, our isolation could work to our benefit,” Vieira said. “We could own the rebound and get people back to work, which should be a focus given that we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation.”

However, Vieira cautions that even after the state reopens to travel, recovery will be far from immediate.

“Once things start to open, hotels will be lucky if they are getting 30% to 35% occupancy,” Vieira said. “I’d like to see us at plus 40% occupancy, which is the break-even point for most hotels, but I don’t think that’s possible this summer.”…

read … Hawaii’s visitor industry showed signs of deterioration before hotels began to close

Hawaiian Airlines Cuts More Flights

SF: … Hawaiian Airlines will be ending service to Boston, Las Vegas, Portland, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, and Seattle. In addition, the airline will suspend a regional flight to Lahaina on the island of Maui….

read … US Airlines Seek Exemptions To Minimum Service Requirements

Public worker union urges Ige to borrow $4B to pay them to sit at home

SA: … The head of the state’s largest public worker union is urging Gov. David Ige to borrow money from the federal government if necessary to avoid deep pay cuts for public workers, and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said Tuesday he also wants to explore the borrowing option to help close a $1.5 billion state budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hawaii Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira wrote to Ige on Tuesday warning him that the 20% pay cuts or furloughs Ige proposed last week would have “a devastating effect” on Hawaii’s economy.

Perreira cited data from a report by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization that concluded a 20% public worker pay cut would reduce the state’s gross domestic product by $3.3 billion between 2020 and 2022….

(Typo: It should read ‘increase.’)

As an alternative to pay cuts, Perreira and Schatz both cited UHERO’s suggestion that the state might borrow from the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Lending Facility, which was designed to allow states and municipalities to borrow money when they don’t have other ways to raise cash.

The Municipal Lending Facility can make loans of up to 24 months, and the state and counties together could borrow as much as $4 billion, or 20% of their general fund revenues, according to UHERO. For the state, the proceeds could be used to bridge what Ige expects will be a six- to 18-month downturn in state tax collections and other revenues….

Meanwhile: LA To Furlough 15,000 Civilian Employees In First Post-COVID Budget Plan  (I guess nobody in Calif found out about the magic money from the Feds.)

HSTA: Economic experts say cutting employees’ pay would make Hawaii’s economy worse

HSTA: President says aid to states will be discussed in future bailout bill

HSTA: Governor says state pay cuts ‘the last resort’ in dealing with coronavirus' financial effects

read … Public worker union urges Ige to borrow from feds instead of cutting workers’ pay

Unions Exploit Maui Memorial COVID Cluster

SA: … lawmakers passed a measure in 2015 authorizing privatization of the Maui Region of the Hawaii Health System Corp., which included Maui Memorial, Kula Hospital, Lanai Community Hospital and associated clinics. Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland, Calif., but with a long history of providing health care in Hawaii, was selected to operate the community hospitals.

After a protracted delay involving logistical concerns and lawsuits by the Employees Retirement System and United Public Workers, the managed-care organization took over operations of the Maui County hospitals in July 2017….

Before long, employees and their union representatives were airing grievances about what they (wanted the public to) perceived to be an erosion of care at the facility.

UPW placed a full-page advertisement in the Maui News last year criticizing Kaiser for sacrificing quality of care and safety while spending millions of dollars in transition subsidies provided by the state on “aesthetics and moneymaking departments.”…

Background: Hospital Reform? Randy Perreira Says "F*** You"

read … Maui Memorial works to improve communication, safety policies amid cluster of cases

Lawmakers pretend to look to diversify Hawaii’s economy away from tourism

KHON: … The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major hit to the tourism industry and businesses that rely on it. Now lawmakers are looking into other ways to bring in money to the state in the future, looking for ways to break away from relying solely on tourism. They say now is the perfect time to start.

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

“It’s only when we have situations that we are facing today where we really look at what the future should hold,” said Sen. Glenn Wakai, Senate Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee chair.


Some of the proposals for alternative economic developments include expanding agriculture, which is something Hawaii is familiar with.

“We’ve talked about agriculture. We’ve talked about value added products and exporting, and those are the kind of jobs that we can get people moving quickly,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz who represents Wahiawa and Mililani Mauka.

But Wakai is proposing something a bit different. He’s looking into the future with aerospace technology, aquaculture and alternative energy.

“We import 70 percent of the fish we eat in Hawaii. That is a startling statistic. We should be a net exporter of fish, crustaceans, [and] ogo seaweed,” said Wakai…

(Good ideas.  All doomed.  He’s about to tell you why….)

But these developments will take some time. Wakai estimates it could be about five to ten years of planning before we can reap the benefits.

(Wrong.  Just get out of the way.)

“I don’t have the magic wand that by 2025 we’re going to have a robust [innovative] economy, but I’d like to try and move this discussion passed theoretical to, you know, on the ground, let’s move dirt. Let’s throw money at it. Let’s find great minds together to come up with reinventing the entire economy,” said Wakai.

For right now, he said they have to figure out how it would work and how much money and resources they’re willing to put in….

(Solution: Get government out of the way.  Businesspeople will build these businesses if you stop obstructing them.  Step one: Convert the GE Tax into a sales tax to stop pyramiding.)

Sen. Wakai, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, will be presenting their ideas for reopening the economy and moving forward in a webinar on Friday….

read … Lawmakers looking to diversify Hawaii’s economy away from tourism

Gabbard Spending a Lot of Time Trying to Reconnect with Her Constituents … Hmmmmm

CB: … For Gabbard, the return home meant hitting the beach and reconnecting with a constituency she all but abandoned while running an unsuccessful Democratic campaign for president.

The congresswoman has held a number of telephone town halls to discuss the outbreak, how Hawaii is responding and what federal resources are available to residents who have lost their jobs and shuttered their businesses.

She’s also taken shots at Hawaii Gov. David Ige and his administration, calling on him to fire two of his top health officials or resign himself so that his lieutenant governor, Josh Green, a doctor, can take over the state’s response to the pandemic.

Gabbard’s office did not make her available for an interview with Civil Beat, but in a press release said she was headed back to Washington this week to participate in votes, including on a new $484 billion coronavirus aid package that was passed by unanimous consent Tuesday in the U.S. Senate.

Schatz, like Gabbard, has also tried to connect directly with constituents by developing an online resource guide to help them navigate the coronavirus aid package, known as the CARES Act, that was signed into law last month…..

read … Our DC Delegation At Home: Cooking, Yardwork, Surfing And Politics

Mayor Kim Mandates Face Masks in All Stores

SA: …Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim today issued a new emergency rule mandating that all customers age 5 and older wear face masks or coverings before entering essential businesses or riding the bus, among other requirements….

HTH: Kim’s new mask rule more strict than governor’s proclamation

read … Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim issues strict rules in response to coronavirus

Contradictory, Changing COVID Orders Confuse Public

HNN: … On Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell extended the city’s stay-at-home order through the end of May.

Meanwhile, the statewide order is set to expire next week.

On Monday, Governor David Ige said he is not sure when the state will start to reopen.

“We continue to look at what the conditions are for reopening and we will be evaluating that as we move forward,”

For many Oahu residents, it is hard to keep up.

“Clearly there's confusion. You hear one thing, you get a text, you hear another thing. So, there is confusion,” said Kakaako resident Russell Shogren. "We need some clear-cut direction.”

Another confusing and conflicting order is what is allowed on the beach….

SA: Tack On Charges--Honolulu police arrest 91 in connection with coronavirus emergency violations

read … Confusion lingers as state and county orders differ

Corona Virus News:   



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