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Thursday, April 23, 2020
April 23, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:09 PM :: 3499 Views

New management structure for Maunakea proposed to regents

How Many DoE Students are Receiving Consistent Education? -- Congressional Delegation Demands Answers

Planet of the Humans: Michael Moore Debunks Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative

Maui Injection Wells: Supreme Court Overturns 9th Circuit, Creates New Test

Planes, trains and automobiles — but not ships

COVID Count Apr 22: 6 New Cases, 7 Released

COVID Count Apr 23: 4 New Cases, 11 Released

States with the Biggest Increases in Unemployment Due to COVID-19

Another Maui COVID Coverup: Three Cases, 65 Exposed at Merriman’s Restaurant

‘What Was It All For?’: Divide Grows Over Hawaii’s Lockdown

CB: … The economic costs of the virus have been astounding. Hotels and businesses have closed, and more than 200,000 people have filed for unemployment benefits, a historic high. Still others haven’t been able to access the system. Many renters fear eventual evictions.

Unable to gather, people are discussing the state and county rules and complaining about them on social media.

Residents watching government press conferences resoundingly criticize current leadership in the comment sections of live streams. News readership is up, and many articles are met with a stream of comments either bewailing the restrictions or saying they’re not enough.

On Sunday, about 50 cars drove out to Kapolei in protest of the state stay-at-home order that they say infringes on their civil liberties.

Ewa Beach resident Bernard Noel has been living on Oahu for three years and is currently unemployed. He thinks shutting down makes no sense, and it would be better if the virus makes its way through Hawaii and people built up herd immunity.

“These insane measures cripple our islands. Countless families cannot feed their children. Businesses are in free fall. And I am wondering what was it all for?” he wrote in a long letter  to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Misty Cluett, a real estate agent on Kauai, is one of the leaders of a Facebook group called Walk for Our Rights Kauai dedicated to questioning the new normal.

Cluett thinks the response to the pandemic has been worse than the pandemic itself. She believes the virus is likely more widespread than the data shows, suggesting it’s less deadly than we think.

“I think the stay-at-home order and the cloth mask requirements are excessive and should be ended immediately,” she wrote in a Facebook message.

Cluett says she knows the virus is serious but that normal life could be resumed, even if tourism remains suspended.

“There’s been a lot of fear around this virus. So much so that we are forgetting our humanity,” she said. “It’s just surreal to me that we are living on the premise that everyone is sick! Why do we presume that?”

But even those who think the lockdown is ultimately the right decision aren’t necessarily happy.

“There’s a lot of grief in terms of what life used to be,” says Murakoshi, a “sense of grieving in terms of what was lost, and grieving in terms of missed opportunities as it goes on.”

Every day she reads the news. “It’s insane, what does this mean?” she thought when she read about the drop in oil prices. “How does this ripple through the whole economy? How can I prepare?”…

HB: What Hawai‘i Residents Think About the Crisis

read … ‘What Was It All For?’: Divide Grows Over Hawaii’s Lockdown

Caldwell to Reopen Car Dealers, Realtors

SA: … At least some in the local restaurant and retail industries were uneasy with Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s announcement Tuesday that he will extend his stay-at-home, work-from-home order — aimed at blunting the spread of the coronavirus —by an entire month through May 31.

But Caldwell, in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Wednesday, stressed that the monthlong extension will be just for the broader stay-at-home order, and that it’s very likely the rules will be relaxed within that period to allow activities to be open sooner if it is deemed safe for those activities to reopen.

While he announced the extension on Tuesday, Caldwell said he won’t sign an actual order about it until sometime next week. That order will have modifications including allowing a limited amount of car dealership and real estate transactions to be exempted, and might include golf courses, he said….

It’s possible that other activities, including smaller retail operations, also may be opened up within that one-month period, he said….

read … Honolulu Mayor Caldwell explains 30-day shutdown extension amid concerns

Kauai to Reopen May 3?

TGI: …On Kaua‘i, officials said May 3 could potentially bring the reopening of construction and golf courses on the island, as well as the reopening of “many businesses that have been closed”….

Kaua‘i district health officer Dr. Janet Berreman explained that May 3 date is important because it’s 21 days — or two incubation periods for the virus — from April 5, when the first, and only, case of community spread was confirmed on Kaua‘i.

Waiting that length of time to shift toward reopening is standard for public health officials, Berreman said.

“As a public health physician, if we have no more cases of community-acquired COVID-19 by May 3, I feel confident that in our current environment we can — cautiously — begin to loosen some of the tight restrictions that Kaua‘i has implemented,” Berreman said Wednesday….

TGI: The time is now to plan the safe resumption of life on Kaua‘i

read … Restrictions could be relaxed if no community spread

For those awaiting elective surgeries, physical pain & the unknown of when surgeries will resume is unbearable

KHON: … “When the CDC came out with a recommendation to halt all elective procedures, it brought our practice to a screeching halt,” said Kyle Chun, MD.

Elective surgeries were postponed as the country deals with the coronavirus outbreak.

Chun, who specializes in orthopedic surgery, explains the reasoning behind it: to preserve much needed personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

(This is no longer a valid reason.  Manufacturers have stepped up to provide equipment.)

“The second portion of halting elective procedures is to try and avoid undue complications that may require an additional hospital bed,” he added.

But the longer the lockdown continues, Chun says the issue behind halting elective procedures will worsen – much like his patients pain.

“I think (postponing elective procedures has) taken a backseat. But it’s quickly jumping into the passenger seat at this point. You’re seeing on the mainland, at least, smaller community hospitals are closing their doors because there’s no more elective procedures to keep the revenue going. To keep hospitals functioning. They’re needing bailouts to stay open to treat the public for emergencies.

Chun likens it to a domino effect.

“A lesser known way elective surgeries benefit the community in general. These are the drivers of income and revenue for hospitals. It’s not an industry not necessarily for profit. But this is what we do – we do procedures that improve people’s quality of life. Because these procedures float the other portions of healthcare system that are necessary.

“It’s like nature, we all work together to keep this economy running. This virus has taken us out at the legs. And so, it affects everybody.

“The healthcare system is no different. Everything is intertwined and related. If we don’t have the ability to do surgery, people will not come to see us. Therefore the domino effect goes further down. If this goes long enough, we can’t pay our rent. Now the building owner does not get income. If we can’t see patients to address their surgical issues, we can’t employ our staff, our medical assistants, our X-ray technicians, all the people we employ. It’s a really big domino effect that’s not isolated to medicine. It’s in every facet of the community,” said Chun.

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

read … For those awaiting elective surgeries, physical pain & the unknown of when surgeries will resume is unbearable 

Senators say plan needed as airlines resume flying to Hawaii

SA: … Some international carriers may resume service to Hawaii as early as May 31, prompting the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 to express concern that state government doesn’t have a plan to reopen travel.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres-Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho) asked Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson and representatives from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency what the process would be to reopen tourism if airlift started ramping up in June.

Anderson frustrated the committee when he told them that he didn’t think “anyone’s worked that out.”

(CLUE: If Senators rely on DoH to work this out, it will never get done.  It involves ‘testing’ and DoH has always found a way to oppose testing.)

“No one is even talking about allowing people to start coming here except with quarantine provisions — that’s not even being discussed. We’re not close to that point,” Anderson said. “We’ll have to figure out exactly what screening would be necessary whether its thermal screening or testing or physical exam or whatever the case may be. We’ll need to figure it out and we don’t have that right now.”

Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kaka­ako-McCully-Moiliili) said she’s among the Senate committee members who want a recovery and management plan in place now so that tourism can operate as safely as possible once state and county emergency orders are lifted….

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

(IDEA:  Require test at departing airport. Pre-tested passengers create confidence in air travel and tourism.)

read … Senators say plan needed as airlines resume flying to Hawaii

DoH Against City Purchase of 10,000 Test Kits

CB: … State Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson told a panel of senators Wednesday afternoon that tests conducted in the state must be certified by both the FDA and the DOH.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park shared similar concerns in a phone call last week with the city.

But the FDA does not certify or approve COVID-19 test kits, EverlyWell’s Song said. … 

Companies like EverlyWell, a company that links consumers to labs to get test results, would not likely receive an EUA from the federal government, which has reserved such authorizations for individual laboratories, Christina Song, a company spokeswoman, said in an interview….

While researching other test kits, Kaulukukui found that the kits used by Diagnostic Laboratory Services also do not have an EUA…. 

(UPDATE: DLS says this is a false statement.)

city officials, who plan to spend about $1 million to purchase 10,000 test kits from EverlyWell, say they are still confident that those tests will be reliable enough to expand testing capacity on Oahu….

read … Virus Test Kits Touted By City Lack Federal And State Approval

DoH Accused of COVID Cluster Coverup

WHT: … State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz of Oahu was critical of Health Director Bruce Anderson’s “failure … to properly articulate methodology” for the DOH’s efforts to trace people who came into contact with individuals who tested positive for coronavirus.

He also implied Anderson withheld information from the public about COVID-19 clusters at Maui Memorial Medical Center and three Kailua-Kona McDonald’s restaurants.

Anderson told the committee some of the 32 cases in the Kona cluster included McDonald’s employees from the Marshall Islands and their families.

“We had six, seven employees right off the top positive. We traced them back to … two different McDonald’s,” Anderson said. “They work, go home, and we actually then got some positive cases from when they’re at home, family members who got sick. And they, in turn, took the disease back to other workplaces….

“This Marshallese community in the Kona area … basically were in living situations where they couldn’t effectively isolate themselves.”

Dela Cruz asked if “part of the reason why you don’t disclose this is because there’s a stigma attached, and it makes it more difficult to get responses from these people if you start outing communities?”

“We have found, often, people are blamed where they shouldn’t be,” Anderson replied. “… People go to work when they’re sick but don’t even know that they’re COVID-19 cases. … And we try to balance sharing information that we think might be helpful to give people assurance that we’re aggressively pursuing this, and at the same time … not compromise the investigation by revealing more than we should.”…

WHT: Kona police officer tests positive for COVID-19

WHT: Police chief: All employees tested Monday negative for COVID-19

WHT: Kona Community Hospital reports first inpatient case of COVID-19

RNZ: Marshall Islands has no confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus

read … Health officials criticized over COVID-19 handling

Tourists Leave Address Blank to Fake Quarantine

KHON: …Multiple people have broken quarantine rules since it began, the latest being a pair that broke quarantine more than once….

“Because of what’s happening, a lot of people are putting blanks or they’re not putting the correct address or they’re putting a fake address, and they’re getting through the process and it’s too late to verify it later,” said Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who is on the senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

The process starts when people get off the plane at the airport.

“What’s going happen is they’re going go to… there will be a table set up there. We’re going to first confirm the phone number, because that’s been a challenge for us, is making sure that phone number works,” said Keith Regan, HTA chief administrative officer….

“So we’re going to call the hotel, whatever hotel it is.. we’re going to call them. We’re going to speak to the front desk, we’re going to confirm that John Doe or Jane Doe has an actual reservation,” said Regan.

If any of the information turns out to be false, they will immediately be turned over to law enforcement.

“It’s just going to have to move that way because if you’re not going to be truthful to us, we don’t want to deal with you anymore. Deal with the law enforcement,” said Regan….

SA: Visitors still trickling into Hawaii, but most passengers are residents

KHON: 2 visitors wanted for violating quarantine order more than once found by police

HTH: Three tourists arrested, another cited in Hilo for violating 14-day quarantine

read … HTA rolling out new procedures to prevent quarantine rule breaking

1980s Computers Slow Unemployment Backlog

HNN: …State Sen. Laura Thielen took to Facebook to talk about the slow pace of the work, saying it took her almost four hours to process 29 claims.

“The state unemployment insurance computer system is from the 1980s. It is not user friendly. It’s not quick. It’s not intuitive,” she wrote.

The head of the Labor Department agreed.

“We tried to speed it up as much as possible, but unfortunately some of those systems are rather dated as well," said state Labor Department Director Scott Murakami.

More than 250,000 people have filed for unemployment since March 1, creating a massive backlog that could take months to clear….

Hawaii Government Employees Association, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the Hawaii State Teachers Association -- have signed up about 580 volunteers. About 100 state Legislative staffers are also volunteering while various other state agencies are contributing the rest….

HNN: State says antiquated system to blame for unemployment claims backlog

VIDEO: Gov. Ige and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations director Scott Murakami discuss unemployment issues

read … At least 700 state workers volunteer to tackle unemployment backlog

Contact tracers follow-up positive COVID-19 cases in Hawaii

HNN: … Hawaii has had a total so far of 592 cases of COVID-19. And people who have come into contact with each of those cases have gotten a call from the state Department of Health if they, too, were at risk for coming down with the virus.

“I just wanted to inform you that you may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.”

Lauren Usagawa has said those words to hundreds of people during the last three months as one of the state’s contact tracers. She interviews someone who has tested positive to find out who they could have infected -- and then she calls and interviews each of those people.

“How close were they? What did they do? Were they having dinner with them? Where they sitting next to them? That kind of thing,” she said. …

MN: MMMC Staff still does ‘not feel safe’

read … Contact tracers follow-up with every positive COVID-19 case in Hawaii

Antibody tests show COVID-19 was in Hawaii before first positive test

KHON: …New COVID-19 antibody studies out of USC and Stanford hint that the coronavirus may have been more widespread than originally thought, which would significantly reduce the disease’s mortality rate. Meanwhile, a recent antibody testing may reveal that the virus was in Hawaii as soon as late February….

Antibody tests were used in Hawaii last weekend at the Doctors of Waikiki’s drive-thru first-responder testing. The private practice clinic says their antibody test kits are very accurate.

“I have to tell you the blood test is almost right on point with the PCR test. That’s from all of the data points that we’ve gathered. It’s awesome.” Dr. Alan Wu said.

The results from the drive-thru testing point to COVID-19 being in Hawaii before the state’s first positive test, which was March 6th.

“We tested over 500 first responders and identified about 1% had the antibody and all of them had consistent history of having this really bad upper respiratory infection, flu-like symptoms went through the whole entire household. Seems like the time frame was always late February and early March.” Dr. Wu said….

Doctors of Waikiki is offering antibody testing for essential workers. You can sign up at….

read … Antibody tests show COVID-19 was in Hawaii before first positive test

Sunshine: Kauai Council Rushing Housing Density Law under Quarantine?

KGI: … Written testimony regarding the lifted Sunshine Laws was brought to the attention of the Kaua‘i County Council’s at its April 22 meeting.

One public commentary cited the pace of a bill to allow for two or more multiple-family units to be developed on any size land going through since the Sunshine Law waived at the moment….

“It was laid out in some of the testimony that we were rushing this through … with the Sunshine Law being raised and not taking public testimony on it,” councilmember Luke Evslin said, noting that this ordinance had been considered in June 2019, February and most recently earlier this month.

“We reviewed this again in committee, so we’ve had three opportunities already to discuss it. Two of them were before the sunshine law was lifted,” he explained….

There was more testimony submitted since last meeting, one regarding concerns that councilmembers would benefit from the passing of this bill.

Evslin, who introduced Bill No. 2755, said he would not since he lives on an R-6 lot, and didn’t believe any of his fellow council members would either.

Evslin who has a 700 square-foot lot, and has the allowance for an additional dwelling unit (ADU), said that this policy can provide alternative housing with no changes to density laws, which are determined by zones….

read … Council addresses housing, Sunshine Law

Three Hawai`i Solar Projects Test The Legal Limits

IM: … Three sequential Hawai`i solar project proposals--Castle and Cooke Hawai`i`s Solar Energy Park, Sam Monet`s proposed Feed-in Tariff project, and SPI`s proposed Feed-in Tariff project--test the legal limits on what is and is not allowed….

read … Three Hawai`i Solar Projects Test The Legal Limits

Will There Be “Vote Buying”?

BJ: … we’re going against the 2005 Federal Election Reform Commission which warned of some serious issues. Its report said:

“Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, or too intimidation. Vote buying schemes are much more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.”….

read … Will There Be “Vote Buying”?

Mauna Kea: Hawaii Co Council votes to accept $5.3 million for police overtime

HTH: … After months of delays and revisions, the Hawaii County Council finally approved a deal between the county and the state for reimbursement of police overtime costs incurred during the Thirty Meter Telescope protests on Maunakea last year.

During a meeting Wednesday, the council voted unanimously in favor of a bill and a companion resolution that together authorize the county to accept $5,342,262 from the state as reimbursement for police overtime costs incurred between July 15 and Dec. 31 of last year — a period of increased traffic enforcement on Daniel K. Inouye Highway as protesters occupied a camp on Maunakea Access Road….

read … Council votes to accept $5.3 million for police overtime

MMA star Macfarlane among women suing Punahou, former basketball coach for sex abuse

HNN: … A lawsuit filed in Honolulu Circuit Court today lists Punahou School and Dwayne Yuen, the former coach, among the defendants.

“I ended up losing my love for basketball, which was crazy. That’s what I wanted to do as a career. I wanted to play professional basketball in the WNBA,” Macfarlane said.

Macfarlane, who graduated from Punahou in 2009 and had attended the school since she was in kindergarten, says Yuen started grooming her and her sister, Mahina Macfarlane Souza, beginning in 2003, when she was 12 and her sister was 14.

She said that’s the reason she decided to pursue wrestling instead….

PDF: Punahou Statement

SA: Lawsuit alleges Punahou coach sexually abused girls

read … MMA star Macfarlane among women suing Punahou, former basketball coach for sex abuse

Why Go Away to College if it is Going to Be Online-Only?

CB: … Many in the 2020 graduating class had big plans to go away to college on the mainland. But the prospect of online-only classes and living far from home is changing their minds….

For the thousands of students in Hawaii who head off to the mainland for college each year, a time that would ordinarily be marked by eager acceptance decisions and preparations for a new chapter away from home has been replaced by anxious waiting, uncertainty and serious contemplation of other options, like a gap year or in-state education.

Heimowitz was accepted into four universities, including one of her top choices, American University in Washington, D.C., and the University of Puget Sound in Washington state.

But given the very real possibility colleges could only offer virtual classes, the La Pietra senior, who wants to major in international relations, is looking a little closer to home, to the University of Hawaii Manoa, where she could attend mostly for free from scholarship offers and tuition support….

read … Coronavirus Shakes Up Dreams Of College For Many Hawaii Seniors

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