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Thursday, September 17, 2020
September 17, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:27 PM :: 2455 Views

Ige: COVID pre-travel testing program will start October 15

Chinese Agent Awarded 'Inouye Chair' at UH Manoa

COVID Count: 102 new cases out of 2,492 tests

COVID Count: 160 new cases out of 3,829 tests

Ige Appoints new Director, Deputy at DLIR

HECO Releases info on Solar Battery Projects -- Prices Vary by 46%

Second Round of Pandemic EBT Cards for 93,500 DoE Students

Spy-wear:  Contact tracing apps spread to UH, Waimanalo, Maui, Big Island

WHT: … A nonbinding resolution urging the mayor to support a voluntary contact tracing app cleared the County Council by an 8-1 vote Wednesday after it was changed to allow more than one specific vendor.

Resolution 716 was amended to urge the mayor to “immediately support the release of the Sustain Hawaii Perseus ID mobile application as well as all other apps offering similar services or functions available for free and voluntary public use.”

Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder, who sponsored the resolution, said Maui County passed a similar resolution last week. Location apps are already being used on the island by the University of Hawaii and some employers, he added.…

The app under debate was developed by Sustain Hawaii, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2003 that works with health concerns in Native Hawaiian communities. Executive director Kevin Vaccarello told the council the app was created five months ago and is being beta tested in Waimanalo, a primarily Native Hawaiian community on Oahu.

The app uses GPS to create a digital location diary that never leaves your phone, until you allow it. This is data that will never be stored in a third party server, one of its developers said. Only if someone tests positive for COVID-19 will they be prompted to voluntarily release their anonymous location data. Even those who don’t use the app would be able to see COVID-19 hotspots on a map that would be posted to the internet.

Most council members wanted to see the project expand to the Big Island.

Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter worked with local community-based health care providers, known as “FQHCs” for Federally Qualified Health Centers, to secure their endorsements of the contact tracing app. Bay Clinic and the Hamakua Health Center have signed on, Kanealii-Kleinfelder said….

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung, Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz and Kohala Councilman Tim Richards had voted against the resolution in committee.

Richards maintained his “no” vote.

“My concern revolves around the fact this is a beta product and hasn’t been tested. … I agree we need to embrace technology, but it’s not a proven technology,” Richards said. “My concern is it will give a false sense of security.”

Chung and Kierkiewicz still had reservations, but voted in favor after the measure was amended to allow other vendors.

“I’m not really enamored of it in total,” Chung said, “but I guess if you peel away all the layers, the message is we should support digital contact tracing technology.”…

read … Council endorses voluntary contact tracing apps

Pacific Islanders Not Waiting for Government—Solving their own COVID Problems

CB: … Pacific Islanders have been hard hit by the coronavirus in Hawaii. But they're not waiting for government to take care of things for them like so many of us are….

read … Pacific Islanders Are Mentors Not Victims

VA reviewing ‘almost everything’ about vet home outbreak

WHT: … With 15 COVID-19 deaths now associated with Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home, a team from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will review “almost everything” about the facility’s management of the outbreak.

Hilo Medical Center reported one additional death of a veterans home resident Wednesday, while the number of new COVID-19 cases remained steady at 68 among residents and 30 among employees.

There were 86 residents living in the home before the outbreak.

Mayor Harry Kim said that a “tiger team” from the VA will arrive on the Big Island today and Friday to review the policies and practices of the veterans home and implement all recommended changes.

Kim said those recommendations will include better staff training, the implementation of additional hygiene controls, and reviews of a slew of health practices, both quarantine-related and otherwise.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said during a Wednesday press conference that the team of about 20 will include “nurses specialized in infection control, employee health … and then other specialties, for example, safety and industrial hygiene, housekeeping and logistics.”

The team will be lead by Dorene Sommers, VA associate director of patient care services, and “will be here until the job is done,” Kim said.

Kim and state officials called the situation a tragedy Wednesday, because nearly 20% of the veterans home’s residents are now dead from COVID-19 infections….

“We see fatalities at a high rate because … they’re very old, (and) almost all of them had very severe underlying conditions,” Green went on. “That is not to make an excuse in any way whatsoever. But it is the reason that it happens.”

Green said that some of those who died had made the choice not to be put on life-support systems such as ventilators “under any circumstance, whether they got sick with pneumonia or COVID, a heart attack or heart challenges.”

“So that’s why you do see a very high mortality rate amongst kupuna,” he said.

Kim said he cannot minimize the tragedy of the Yukio Okutsu situation, but added that, outside of the veterans home, case numbers on the Big Island are decreasing – four were reported Wednesday — to the point that he believes there will be zero new daily cases again within a month….

read … VA reviewing ‘almost everything’ about vet home outbreak

Governor, superintendent discuss guidelines for reopening public school campuses

HNN: … The governor and schools superintendent are discussing newly-released guidelines that public schools will use to reopen their campuses for in-person learning.

Gov. David Ige, state Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and deputy state epidemiologist Sarah Kemble are holding a news conference….

Most students had been doing full distance learning since the school year started last month. But that’s set to expire Oct. 2, when the first quarter ends.

The DOE also reported 14 cases at campuses across the state last week….  

SA VIDEO: Hawaii public schools may phase in ‘blended learning’ after fall break

HNN: Public schools will make ‘gradual’ transition to blended learning in October

read … Governor, superintendent discuss guidelines for reopening public school campuses

Honolulu Police Are Issuing An ‘Unprecedented’ Number Of Pandemic Tickets—And 65 Arrests in August Alone

CB: …Many are being dismissed. But the court system is struggling to keep up as thousands of violators are forced to appear before a judge anyway….

HNN: In August, Honolulu police made 65 arrests for emergency order violations

read … Honolulu Police Are Issuing An ‘Unprecedented’ Number Of Pandemic Tickets

Community clinic pharmacy to close for lack of patients

MN: … Malama I Ke Ola Health Center, which services the poor and those without health insurance, will be closing its pharmacy Wednesday, the community clinic announced Tuesday.

“With the significant decrease in patient visits, prescription volume and revenues, pharmacy operations were no longer sustainable,” the center said in a news release. Mary Teter, executive administrative assistant for the health center, blamed the declines on the COVID-19 pandemic….

The pharmacy currently is serving around 1,800 patients, Teter said. The health center serves around 12,500 patients annually and most are uninsured, unemployed or on a managed Medicaid plan.

“We cared for many patients who qualified for a sliding fee discount,” she said. The clinic is “working on expanding existing arrangements in place with Walgreens and Longs/CVS to increase” discount offerings.

For patients who are in an insurance plan, the copays will most likely not change, Teter added….

read … Community clinic pharmacy to close for lack of patients

Military EIS Public Comments Due


Army West Loch ordnance facilities:  Friday is the deadline for comment on the environmental assessment. Testimony can be emailed ( The EA document detailing the project can be downloaded at

Pohakuloa Training Area environmental impact statement:  Initial “scoping” comments, due Oct. 14, should be submitted through the EIS website (

NAVFAC Hawaii Awards $33 Million Contract for Magazine Construction

West Loch: Usual Suspects anti-military opportunism

read … Editorial: Military’s impact on environment

Hawaii Amends its Ban the Box Law to Fortify Protections for Ex-Offenders

L: … Hawaii has long had a law limiting the discretion that employers have to consider older conviction records in making employment decisions.  Effective September 15, 2020, SB 2193 prevents most private sector employers from considering conviction records within the last 10 years, but only convictions within seven years for felony convictions, and five years for misdemeanor convictions, excluding periods of incarceration.1  Hawaii shortened the 10-year lookback period “to reduce unnecessary employment discrimination against individuals with old and relatively minor conviction records, in furtherance of economic self-sufficiency, and to reduce crime and recidivism rates.” …

read … Hawaii Amends its Ban the Box Law to Fortify Protections for Ex-Offenders

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