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Tuesday, February 23, 2021
February 23, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:39 PM :: 2175 Views

HB534: Self Defense Bill Up in Committee

DHHL to Obtain Former Tsunami Warning Center Site from Feds?

HTA: January Hotel Occupancy 23.3%

Now is the Worst Time for Minimum Wage Hike

COVID Closes Canadian Ports, Alaska Seeks Passenger Vessel Services Act Waiver

Rep Sharon Har DUI—Wrong Way Driver on Beretania

HNN: … A Hawaii lawmaker has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence on Monday night, police said.

Honolulu police arrested Sharon Har on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant around 10:20 p.m.

Sources said the 52-year-old state representative was driving the wrong way in the center lane down Beretania Street near Piikoi Street.

She has since been released on $500 bail.

Har represents District 42, covering Kapolei and Makakilo….

UPDATE: Rep Har Blames Codeine and Alcohol for DUI Arrest

read … Drunk with power

AARP wants state to prioritize everyone 50 and up for COVID vaccine

HNN: … AARP says the state needs to act more quickly to expand eligibility to seniors, and wants the state to move everyone over 50 into a higher priority category.

Right now, seniors 75 and up are eligible for vaccinations along with a long list of essential workers. The state Health Department said it plans to expand eligibility “soon” to seniors 70 and up, followed by those 65 and older, but there’s been no firm timeline given.

Kealii Lopez, AARP Hawaii state director, said those 50 to 64 face aren’t considered a priority even though they may be at higher risk because of their age and also are more likely to be in the workforce.

Hawaii health statistics show those over 50 account for 94% of Hawaii deaths. “Those who were 50 and older have a higher risk either being hospitalized or dying from COVID,” said Lopez.

There are roughly 130,000 people in Hawaii between 65 and 74….

read … AARP wants state to prioritize everyone 50 and up for COVID vaccine

Hawaii Health Director Says 3 More Weeks Until Age 70+ Vaccinations Begin

CB: … Dr. Libby Char told lawmakers mid March is the soonest people age 70 and older will be able to get in line for COVID-19 vaccinations….Younger Hawaii residents with pre-existing medical conditions that make them vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19 will likely have to wait another month before vaccines begin rolling out for them, and the same goes for residents in their mid to late 60s…

Oahu has two large vaccination centers established by the House of Representatives, operated by Hawaii Pacific Health and Queen’s Health Systems. Located at Honolulu Harbor’s Pier 2 Passenger Terminal and the Blaisdell Concert Center, the facilities can administer as many as 10,000 shots per day.

In addition, Gov. David Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight webcast on Monday that Hawaii has an additional 100 smaller centers across the islands and is working with pharmacies to set up more….

Char stressed Hawaii is “vaccinating the right people (ie government employees) as quick as we can,”

read … Too Busy Vaccinating Criminals

How to hide the Failure: DoE Can Fudge Testing but not Eliminate it, feds say

HNN: … The Education Department said Monday that it will not allow states to forgo federally required standardized testing in schools this year but will give them flexibility to delay testing or hold it online during the pandemic.

Aiming for a middle ground in a polarized debate, the Biden administration said states must continue with annual testing but can apply to be exempted from certain accountability measures tied to the results.

States also will be allowed to move tests to the summer or fall, or they can offer shortened tests or online assessments.

In a letter to state education chiefs on Monday, Ian Rosenblum, an acting assistant education secretary, said testing will help schools understand the impact of the pandemic and how to help students.

“In addition, parents need information on how their children are doing,” he said….

Last Year: Thanks to Virus, DoE Finally Achieves Goal of Eliminating All Standardized Testing

read … School testing can be delayed but not canceled, feds say

720,000 COVID Rapid tests Sit in Warehouse—Will Expire Unused because HSTA refuses to reopen Schools

CB: … Some 720,000 rapid COVID-19 tests nearing their official expiration date in March sit in a state warehouse.

The Hawaii Department of Health bought the rapid tests last fall to meet the needs of long-term care facilities after a federal allotment of the tests ran dry. Eventually, long-term care facilities received another type of test — Abbott BinaxNOW tests — sent to nursing homes by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that do not require extra equipment to analyze results. That led to the current stockpile, according to DOH Spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

Since their purchase last year, the tests have been used during COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes, care homes, prisons, housing complexes and hospital facilities.

Some of the extra tests are currently being used for a pilot project led by the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center to test schoolchildren and their household members, she said. That initiative could expand if the project is successful….

(Translation: These tests were to be used to reopen schools but the HSTA isn’t going to allow the schools to reopen.)

Dr. Scott Miscovich, who has led dozens of testing drives across the islands over the past year, said he believes the rapid tests could be used to bring back activities such as school sports….

Miscovich said he sees great potential for rapid testing to assist with reopening schools. His company has already helped local private schools establish regular testing for students….

Meanwhile: Iolani School’s high teacher vaccination rate and plans to soon offer free coronavirus testing to students set it apart from public schools.

read … Hawaii Grapples With How To Use Stockpile Of Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Kishimoto, Ige: No School Anytime Soon

HNN: …  Despite a national push to get students back in classrooms full-time, following new safety guidance from the CDC, schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto (who was picked for he ability to parrot union talking points without smirking) said Hawaii public schools are unlikely to return to full in-person learning before next school year.

Under the new CDC guidance, most of the state would fall in low or moderate transmission categories and so should allow full, in-person instruction. Hawaii has one of the nation’s lowest infection rates, and Oahu is posed to ease some COVID restrictions this week.

But it’s ultimately up to the state on whether to reopen public schools.

And the governor and superintendent have said they’re working to reopen to full in-person instruction but are also operating on their own timeline.

For the first time Monday, Kishimoto offered more details on what that timeline looks like, saying public schools in Hawaii are unlikely to reopen fully to in-person instruction before the fall.

She said summer classes could also be held in-person….

read … Superintendent says full in-person learning unlikely to resume before summer

Oahu: Loosened COVID-19 restrictions not enough

HNN: … Tier 3 status would allow movie theaters and fitness facilities to operate up to 50-percent capacity and the size of gatherings would increase from five to 10 people….

We've been through this for almost a year. During this year, they loss significant revenue. That's based on a survey we did in January. It's very compelling how much impact it had on our small business community," Menor-McNamara said.

Until then, she says any idea of economic relief should include financial support for businesses.

"Rent is a huge issue amongst many of our businesses. They're struggling with that and paying back rent," Menor-McNamara said….

SA: Retailers seek rent relief as coronavirus pandemic wears on

read … Some business owners on Oahu believe loosened COVID-19 restrictions might not be enough to keep them afloat

Ige – Let Kauai have its Bubbles

SA: … Gov. David Ige expressed reservations about a bill that would unify travel rules across Hawaii, while stopping short of saying he would veto it if it comes across his desk.

House Bill 1286, which was introduced by House Speaker Scott Saiki and supported by the tourism industry, aims to cut down on the confusion travelers face when they are visiting the islands and trying to navigate restrictions related to the novel coronavirus. Kauai, in particular, has adopted a very different set of rules from the rest of the state.

“To assume that the same rules can apply all across the state is just not practical or workable,” Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii on Monday. …

read … Gov. David Ige critical of bill that would unify travel restrictions

Kauai: No Tourists Anytime Soon

KITV: …  Dr. Kapono Chong-Hanssen, medical director of the Kauai Community Health Center, says many on the Garden Isle prefer to keep restrictions in (tourists away from this) place….

HNN: Kauai has state’s highest percentage of residents vaccinated against COVID-19

read … Kauai physician: Too early to lift restrictions on fully vaccinated travelers

Minimum Wage Bill Teed Up For Senate Vote

CB: … Two Senate committees on Monday advanced a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $10.10 to $12 an hour by July 2022.

If Senate Bill 676 clears the Legislature, it would be the first minimum wage increase since 2018….

SA: $12 minimum wage hike clears key Senate committees

read … Minimum Wage Bill Teed Up For Senate Vote

Kill a Kid, Get Probation

WHT: … A former Kona resident was sentenced to probation Monday after meting a plea deal with prosecutors in the 2018 murder of a 6-year-old boy in Kailua-Kona.

Kuuipo Leinaala Nihipali, who is now living in Hilo, was sentenced to five years probation for three counts of felony abuse in the presence of a child under age 14 and one count first-degree hindering prosecution in connection with the Oct. 31, 2018, death of Mazen Kaniela Nihipali-Moniz at a Kealakehe apartment complex….

Nihipali, who now lives in Hilo after gaining supervised release in August 2020, was one of two women charged with murder in connection with the crime. Her co-defendant, Ashley Rose Nihipali was sentenced Dec. 11, 2020, to 25 years incarceration after pleading guilty to manslaughter and abuse in Nihipali-Moniz’s death.

Kuupio Nihipali changed her plea a day before the sentence was handed down against Ashley Nihipali. She pleaded guilty to three counts of abuse of a family or household member and one count of hindering prosecution.

In exchange for the pleas of both women, the state dismissed the remaining eight charges each faced, which included the offenses of second-degree murder, terroristic threatening and tampering with evidence.

The charges stemmed from the Halloween 2018 death of Nihipali-Moniz on Halloween 2018, and abusing him and his siblings for months prior at the Lailani Apartment complex in Kealakehe….

read …  Woman sentenced probation in child death case

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