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Wednesday, April 29, 2020
April 29, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:35 PM :: 2900 Views

Hawaii ERS headed for disaster if economy keeps heading south

Contact Tracing: Hawaii Falls Far Short Even After Expansion

USS Kidd Arrives in San Diego to Treat COVID-19 Outbreak; First Cases Emerged More than A Month After Hawaii Port Visit

Wall Street Journal Denounces Maui Liquor Commission

Captain’s Ouster From Virus-Plagued Navy Ship Faces Full Probe

COVID Count: 1,180 Tests reveal 4 new cases, 11 released

Maui Council to Hike Property Taxes, Boost Pay for ‘High Level Attorneys'

MN: … A Maui County Council committee is on track to trim at least $50 million from the mayor’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget, though the working budget does include raises for the Office of Council Services that council members said would bring parity with other county departments….

Many of the cuts came from eliminating expansion and vacant positions, cutting travel expenses, cutting new equipment purchases such as vehicles and holding off on some projects. Some funding from projects has also been shifted from general funds to bonds.

A public hearing on rates for real property taxes is scheduled for 6 p.m. today. There will be no decision-making.

Oral testimony can be provided via BlueJeans videoconference or by phone. To join the meeting by phone, call (408) 740-7256 or (888) 240-2560 (toll free), and enter meeting ID 358865836 and passcode 5937. The hearing also will be broadcast on Akaku Channel 53.

More information on the range of property tax rates can be found at tinyurl.com/yasfm6cx ….

PDF: Current Property Tax Rates

Along with cuts, there are additions. After initially denying increases for top managers in Office of Council Services early last week, the committee decided late Friday night to leave a 2 percent increase in, with members saying that the top staff, who include attorneys, have done their job well for the council and should have parity with the county’s other attorneys. In February, heads of some county departments, including Corporation Counsel, received a 2 percent cost-of-living increase from the Salary Commission that was retroactive to January.

“I feel parity is needed in the salaries,” Council Member Kelly King said in voting for the increase last week.

“I think we have some high- level attorneys in OCS,” King said…

Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura, who voted against the increases for the top managers along with Council Member Riki Hokama, expressed concern about raising pay during a time of crisis.

“Now 30,000 people are not working,” Sugimura said. “I’m worried about our overall expenses and our budget for our people.”….

FB: Maui Undercurrents--While you were sleeping....

read … Council committee works to trim mayor’s $869,800,000 budget

COVID-19 Monitoring Could Turn Hawaii Into A Tourist ‘Prison Camp,’ Critics Say

CB: … Tourists could be required to wear ankle monitors, subject themselves to GPS tracking or facial recognition technology, and/or be quarantined in a guarded facility for the duration of their two-week isolation period…

The potential policies are still being vetted, Attorney General Clare Connors said at a Senate committee meeting on Friday, but they’re already getting some pushback.

“There definitely has to be a monitoring system in place, but it doesn’t have to consist of drastic measures,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki. “Some of these proposals sound a little too drastic, a little too extreme.”…

Malia Hill, policy director for the think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said the ideas are “positively Orwellian.”

“There are serious questions in terms of civil liberties and privacy,” she said.

What officials are considering sounds like a “prison camp,” according to Hill. She believes they are likely to do longterm harm to Hawaii’s reputation as a vacation destination.

“Can Hawaii recover from people posting on Facebook, ‘Just got to Hawaii. Here’s my ankle monitor tan’?” Hill asked….

Saiki said he believes the public understands there may be some “infringement on freedom and mobility” for the benefit of public health. However, he said there’s no need to treat the general public like inmates. People have a reasonable expectation of privacy, he said.

“This is not a criminal situation,” he said. “This is a public health monitoring situation. The approaches we use need to be tailored toward maintaining public health.”

Hill said she is deeply concerned not only about a loss of freedom during the pandemic, but also after.

“It’s a very short hop from ‘It’s OK for tourists’ to ‘It’s OK for any number of other groups,'” she said….

Any surveillance strategies for quarantining people should be done in consultation with public health professionals, said Joshua Wisch, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. They should be regularly reevaluated and time-limited, he said. And invasive methods like ankle-monitoring should only be used as a last resort.  (Translation: ACLU is OK with this.).

Hill is troubled by the lack of opportunities for the public to weigh in on these ideas. At Friday’s meeting, no public testimony was accepted. Citizens and business owners should have a say in how the state keeps them safe, Hill said.

“The idea that you could put out a policy that could really, really harm Hawaii’s tourism industry and the economy with no public feedback is astonishing,” she said.

“There’s a way to phase in letting people back in while watching for signs of infections and taking practical, limited steps to test people, without infringing upon their liberty to move around with government supervision.”… 

HNN: Four More Tourists Arrested

WSJ: Hertz Misses Lease Payment, Prepares for Potential Bankruptcy

SA: More visitors landed in Hawaii Tuesday despite passenger quarantine

read … COVID-19 Monitoring Could Turn Hawaii Into A Tourist ‘Prison Camp,’ Critics Say

Caldwell eyes May 1st for possible reopening of low-risk businesses

KHON: …Pet groomers, workers at an automated carwash, and realtors are part of the low-risk category who could resume work if the number of COVID-19 cases continues in a downward path.

Caldwell said, “If I had the authority, I would like to see this happen by May 1st which is coming up very shortly because I think the risks are low and I think the modification in protecting the customers and the employees.”

Caldwell said a realtor would have to limit the number of people inside a showing to three, while pet groomers would have to maintain their distance from customers.

Ultimately it is Governor David Ige’s decision to open these businesses but Caldwell said he is sharing his vision with the public as discussions between the mayors and governor continue….

Governor Ige said florists are the only non-essential shops that are allowed to reopen on May 1, he said no other decisions have been made yet.

The other types of jobs the mayor said could be part of the first wave of reopening are education tutors, and they must follow physical distancing, as well as car dealerships who would operate by appointment only.

Caldwell said the first weekend of open parks to limited activity went with no major incidents, he is looking forward to opening golf courses next under safety guidelines by the PGA….

The mayor said it is still too risky to consider opening salons and barbershops….

read … Caldwell eyes May 1st for possible reopening of low-risk businesses

‘By mid-month we could see some significant changes,’ LG Green on slowly re-opening the state

KHON: … Green said if Hawaii’s numbers remain low, “by mid-month we could see some significant changes that would relax some of our restrictions, we’re being careful.”

“It’s a balance between making sure we’re ready for a resurgence of the disease, but also having such a small viral load, that we can actually do some of the things safely,” he continued.

He said people would have to continue social distancing and wearing masks in public.

“But I think we’re coming to a point soon where we’re able to re-open the economy and re-store some normalcy,” he added.

Re-opening the economy is part of ‘Phase 2,’ which Dr. Green said is “the post-acute phase of the outbreak.”

“There are a lot of very diligent people working on that right now, so as Phase 2 rolls out, we’ll try and give you a lot of updates,” he said.

To date, 80% of Hawaii’s cases have recovered.

“The curve is flat. It was a success, [Hawaii residents] did it, which is amazing,” he said.

He said states like Georgia re-opening too quickly is reckless.

“Georgia is doing something I think is pretty reckless, I think they’re going to see a spike in fatalities unfortunately,” he said….

read … ‘By mid-month we could see some significant changes,’ LG Green on slowly re-opening the state

Coronavirus antibody tests will start Thursday in Hawaii

SA: … Green is pushing for the tests to be used on passengers arriving in the islands…..  Antibody testing may be a game-changer in lifting restrictions and opening the state back up for business, said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Clinical Labs of Hawaii will start offering blood tests to detect the most common type of antibody — immunoglobulin G, or IgG — that develops about two weeks after COVID-19 infection. The presence of antibodies — proteins produced in the blood by the immune system to protect against viruses — generally means a person has immunity.

“It is a game-changer. There’s probably some asymptomatic folks … who were infected and just don’t know. I’m hoping people get tested, and those people hopefully will never get infected again,” said Dr. Owen Chan, medical director of Clinical Labs. “Hopefully, it stays with you for rest of your life. We still don’t know how our immune systems will work with this particular virus. No one really knows because this virus just came onto the world stage literally months ago. We presume your immunity will be there, but that’s only a presumption because we don’t have the experience yet. Time will tell.”

A spokeswoman for the state’s other major commercial lab, Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc., said its COVID-19 antibody testing will be up and running soon....

CB: COVID-19 Antibody Testing Ramps Up In Hawaii Without DOH Endorsement

read … Coronavirus antibody tests will start Thursday in Hawaii

Public In The Dark as HART Board Approves Another $40M in Change Orders

CB: … Here’s what can be said for sure: Local board members overseeing Honolulu’s more than $9 billion rail project approved nearly $40 million in additional change orders and amendments during a series of meetings Tuesday.

But the public missed almost the entirety of those meetings due to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s latest technical glitches.

HART’s Project Oversight, Finance and Executive Matters meetings were held remotely, using computer software, to practice social distancing. They were supposed to appear on the agency’s YouTube channel.

Only the first 15 minutes or so streamed successfully, however.

The remaining two hours were either too spotty or froze altogether. Thus, the public couldn’t observe as HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins and one of his key lieutenants, Chief Financial Officer Ruth Lohr, briefed board members for the first time on how COVID-19 has impacted Hawaii’s largest-ever public works project.…

SA: HART video system fails, but votes on $40 million in change orders proceed

read … Rail Meeting Crashes Online, Leaving Public In The Dark

An optimistic film industry prepares for the day productions can resume in Hawaii

KITV: … The state's film commissioner, Donne Dawson, said there are roughly two dozen productions on hold, including commercials, TV series and feature films.

She believes that once business resumes, Hawaii will be an attractive destination since producers may be inclined to go to places where the outbreak wasn’t severe.

“I’m talking to people right now from the major studios that are wondering and waiting when we’re going to open our door again because they have projects that they want to send here,” said Dawson.

She said the top priority for the industry, and for the studios in particular, is coming up with strategies for safe work environments.

“Just having the proper protocols in place to deal with on-set hygiene and testing, and making sure that there are very specific protocols that are followed,” she said.

The film industry provided more than 4,000 jobs and generated a record $477 million in direct spending in Hawaii in 2018, according to Dawson….

read … An optimistic film industry prepares for the day productions can resume in Hawaii

Ward Village stores form Hui, ask landlord for price break

KITV: … The Hui says the landlord offered two months' deferment in payments across 12 months starting July, and using some or all of the security deposit towards rent. The group says they need a waiver of rent….

KITV: Hawaiian Electric extends moratorium on service disconnections for non-payments

read … Ward Village stores form Hui, ask landlord for price break

Kauai hasn’t seen a new COVID-19 diagnosis in 15 days. Now, they’re reporting no active cases

HNN: … For 15 days, Kauai hasn’t seen a single new case of coronavirus. And on Tuesday, a new milestone: the island’s last COVID-19 patient in isolation was allowed to leave the hospital.

That means there are no known active cases on Kauai.

The decline in the threat has many wondering: What now?…

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami hasn’t yet indicated how he’d like the island to reopen. But he instituted strict emergency orders early on, including a nighttime curfew, and bristled at the suggestion that Kauai act as a test case for the reboot of the tourism industry…

“As always, we must proceed with cautious optimism,” Kawakami said, in a Facebook update Tuesday.

“There is no doubt that we will see more cases of COVID-19 on Kauai at some point.”…

read … Kauai hasn’t seen a new COVID-19 diagnosis in 15 days. Now, they’re reporting no active cases

Kim eyes reopening some businesses as long as safety measures are in place

HTH: … Kim said Tuesday he will investigate other businesses that can reopen safely and submit requests to the governor to reopen them as well.

“Opening or closing businesses should be based on one thing only,” Kim said. “And that is how much of a risk is there of spreading this disease.” …

Kim said small businesses such as bookstores or bike shops should be allowed to reopen, in part because big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target, which carry books and bicycles, have been allowed to remain open despite drawing substantially larger crowds than smaller businesses would.

In addition, he said, those businesses “seem like they’re a natural fit for staying at home.”…

read … Kim eyes reopening some businesses as long as safety measures are in place

Kokua Kalihi Valley among Oahu clinics demanding access to COVID-19 testing

KITV: … Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says a plan to get testing kits into local community health centers is not off the table, despite the state Department of Health's objections.

Under the $2 million deal the city was negotiating with Texas-based company Everlywell and UPS, 10,000 test kits would be available and used at Oahu health centers, such as Kokua Kalihi Valley, or KKV.

But DOH director Bruce Anderson objected to the plan, citing concerns with Everlywell, and Mayor Caldwell put the project on hold.

KKV serves about 10,000 people a year, including essential workers, seniors, people in multi-generational households, and residents from public housing projects. It's a vulnerable population that staff and community leaders believe deserve on-site testing.…..

SA: VIDEO: Mayor Kirk Caldwell says city will pursue aggressive testing for coronavirus

read … Demanding

Hawaii Labs Improve COVID-19 Testing Turnaround Times

CB: … DOH says results from most diagnostic testing can now come back within 24 hours. But the state’s plan for testing once the economy reopens is still unclear….

Collectively, the Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Clinical Labs Hawaii, Kaiser Permanente, Adventist Health Castle and Tripler Army Medical Center have the ability to conduct 3,000 tests per day now. All five laboratories are federally certified to conduct the tests….

The number of specimens they receive these days has not reached that limit, Desmond said. Together, the laboratories have been producing anywhere from 400 to 1,000 test results per day.

As of Tuesday, 28,577 people have been tested….

read … Hawaii Labs Improve COVID-19 Testing Turnaround Times

Some Adult Care Homes Want Inspections Halted—COVID is their latest Excuse

CB:  … For most senior care homes, strict no-visitor policies have been in effect for more than a month. Not even family members are allowed to see their loved ones in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the state health department is still sending out inspectors on sometimes unannounced visits — and they’re keeping their shoes on, alarming some care home operators….

SA Editorial: Keep guard up for care homes

read  … Some Adult Care Homes Want Inspections Halted

Kauai Homeless Tent City Festers Under Bridge

TGI: … Napuanani McKeague of Voices of Kaua‘i Lydgate La Hui that manages the homeless area said there are 19 children and 14 kupuna among the population of more than 100 people who occupy the camping area that is currently designated as maximum capacity….

Maui: Homeless Suffer without Tourism Industry to Mooch off

HCH: HOPE Services arranges hotel for homeless during pandemic

read … Lydgate keiki get school supplies

Mainland Criminal Flies to Hawaii, gets Deported

HNN: … A Washington visitor who arrived in Hawaii from the mainland without accommodations and apparently without enough money to buy a return ticket has now left the islands — but not before allegedly violating mandatory quarantine rules.

John Ryan Adams, 24, arrived in Honolulu on a flight from Seattle on Sunday and was told to turn around.

There were no flights leaving that night so the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii purchased a ticket for him for the earliest flight the next day and paid for a room at the Pacific Marina Inn near Honolulu’s airport.

VASH Director Jessica Rich said Adams was made aware of the mandatory quarantine rules for visitors and knew he could not leave the hotel. But within hours, he checked himself out and walked away.

Sheriff’s deputies were called and located him near the Wendy’s restaurant on Puuloa Road.

Deputies took him back to the airport and waited with him until his flight out….

He’s also had previous run-ins with the law, pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge in Texas in 2018 and facing two criminal cases for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He has hearings scheduled for May….

SA: Visitors keep flying to Hawaii despite mandatory quarantine, including 149 on Monday

read … Visitor who came without a hotel or a return ticket is put on a flight back to the mainland

Baltimore Consulting Firm Relocates Entire Staff to Hawaii, Violates  Quarantine

F: …The examples are numerous, and as much as I’d love to call out the woman who bragged on her TikTok about how empty and cheap her flight was from Boston to Honolulu, or the mommy blogger who brought her whole family to Maui during the pandemic and actively brushed off criticisms, I won’t—the internet has handled them for us.

However, I am more than happy to call out the marketing company that was dumb enough to bring their firm to Hawaii from Baltimore and actively brag about their callousness on their social media channels. Uprooted Platinum flaunted their work vacation and laughed about their private beach (though they didn’t actually have a private beach) while continuously violating quarantine restrictions. Since their brazen displays, they have taken down all of their social media pages and their website. So maybe they weren’t that great at marketing, after all….

read … Coronavirus Has Revealed How Bad Hawaii’s Tourism Problem Really Is

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