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Saturday, August 7, 2021
August 7, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:04 PM :: 1894 Views

List: Did Your School Have COVID this week?

Ige Lifts Suspension Of Hawaii’s Open Government Laws

Ige Appoints Sonja McCullen to Intermediate Court of Appeals

Eviction Ban Extension Only Applies to People who Apply for Aid

OHA: Disproportionate Spike in COVID-19 Cases in Native Hawaiian Communities

Hawaii Contact Tracers Vacation As COVID Cases Surge

CB: … Record daily case counts in Hawaii are forcing state workers to prioritize who to call to alert them of possible exposure to the virus….

For the past six months, Hawaii health officials have consistently contacted more than 80% of close contacts of known COVID-19 cases, reaching more than 90% in some weeks. But over the last three weeks in July, that figure dropped to two-thirds.

Data from the first week of August is not yet published, but this week the state reported record high coronavirus cases driven largely by the highly contagious delta variant….

As of Friday, the DOH has 269 contact tracers at work, down from 299 earlier this week, Baehr said….

During last summer’s COVID-19 surge, the health department hired Emily Roberson to lead the contact tracing program. She revamped the program, particularly to more effectively reach Filipino and Pacific Islander communities who were disproportionately getting sick. But Roberson resigned in April.

Baehr said Friday that he did not know if anyone had actually replaced Roberson at the Health Department following her resignation. He noted that Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist, who replaced former state epidemiologist Sarah Park, is ultimately in charge of contact tracing.

Kemble is among the employees on vacation this week. Baehr said that in her absence, Ann Buff, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is filling in.

The Health Department is also facing a lawsuit after terminating virologist Jennifer Smith in May. Smith was a whistleblower who alerted public officials about overwhelmed staffers last year….

Matagi said one challenge to effective contact tracing is misinformation.

“People are misconstruing science with political agendas,” Matagi said. “This is not a political issue. This has to do with illness and diseases.”…

KITV: There's a growing need for more contact tracers in Hawaii as COVID-19 infections grow

Aug 5, 2021: No Contact Tracing?  Oahu lifeguard claims failed city safety protocol spread COVID

read … Hawaii Contact Tracers Work Overtime As COVID Cases Surge

Some state, county workers gearing up for a legal fight over governor’s vaccine mandate

HNN: … One Maui firefighter, who asked to remain anonymous, says despite the mandate he and several other county and state employees refuse to get the COVID vaccine — even if it means losing their jobs. “I’ve already talked to a lot of people who said they would move to a different state with more rights,” he said.

He said state and county workers who are against the vaccine have stayed silent out of fear of losing their jobs. They are now planning to take legal action because they feel there is no other choice….

Attorney Michael Green has taken calls from those against the mandates.

He said he wants to “slow the train down.”

“This might be the most important case that I ever handle,” he said.

The governor and mayors announced the vaccine requirements Thursday, saying that government workers must provide their vaccination status by Aug. 16.

Unvaccinated workers will be required to test weekly….

SA: City and County of Honolulu releases details of COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees

read … Some state, county workers gearing up for a legal fight over governor’s vaccine mandate

In joint statement, 3 Hawaii banks announce vaccine requirements for workers

HNN: … Three Hawaii banks announced Friday that they will start requiring their employees to show proof of vaccination or undergo COVID testing weekly.

Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank and Territorial Savings Bank issued a joint statement on the issue, saying the requirement kicks in Sept. 30.….

HNN: LIST: Here’s a look at some of the employers in Hawaii now requiring vaccines

read … In joint statement, 3 Hawaii banks announce vaccine requirements for workers

Pre-travel test for all Hawaii passengers back on the table amid coronavirus spike

KHON: … Gen. Hara said, “We could roll that back and just mandate everyone be required again to get the 72 hour pre-test with all the same rule nucleic acid application test safe travels testing partner all of the same things.”….

read … Pre-travel test for all Hawaii passengers back on the table amid coronavirus spike

Maui Council dumps hotel moratorium--Plans Island-wide Moratorium

MN: … Two Maui County Council members dramatically switched stances on a hotly contested measure to temporarily halt visitor accommodation growth in West and South Maui, ultimately allowing Mayor Michael Victorino’s veto of the bill to stand.

Bill 60 would place a moratorium on building permits for expansion of hotels and other visitor accommodations in South and West Maui until community plans in each area are updated or two years have passed, whichever is sooner….

Council Vice Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, along with Council Member Tamara Paltin, who each backed the bill through first and second readings before the council, decided to abandon it Friday, citing potential legal issues.

Also, Rawlins-Fernandez said if Bill 60 is mired in litigation, it will inhibit a second proposed moratorium on visitor accommodations that would span the entire island.

“We have to choose with this motion if we are going to take a gamble on a moratorium that we expedited, for good purposes, but may not be enacted and may not be enforced and may get wrapped up in litigation,” Rawlins-Fernandez said during Friday’s meeting. “In litigation, it’ll end our chances of an islandwide moratorium.”…

Mayor Victorino Issues statement on Maui County Council’s decision to file Bill 60

Victorino: Stronger transient vacation rental enforcement for a better community

read … Council lets hotel moratorium veto stand

Judge cuts water ‘take’ from E. Maui streams

MN: … An Environmental Court judge has sliced the total amount of water East Maui Irrigation is allowed to divert from East Maui streams.

First Circuit Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree last week modified EMI’s water “take” from 45 million gallons a day to 25 mgd, effective immediately. The 74-mile-long EMI water delivery system, which was constructed in phases starting in the late 1800s, is co-owned by Alexander & Baldwin and Mahi Pono.

Diverted East Maui stream water flows to Mahi Pono farming, Upcountry Maui County water customers (about 35,000 residents), Kula Agricultural Park and other entities. Much of the diverted water is lost due to seepage and evaporation, according to water use reports.

The latest order follows Crabtree’s May decision on legal action initiated by a Sierra Club of Hawai’i case.….

NR: Statement from OHA Chair on today’s Maunakea ruling by Judge Laubach

read … Judge cuts water ‘take’ from E. Maui streams

In first ruling on TMT arrests, judge finds 4 kupuna not guilty of obstruction

HNN: … In the first ruling on Thirty Meter Telescope arrests, a Hilo judge on Friday found four kupuna not guilty of obstructing Mauna Kea Access Road.

The four defendants — Marie Alohalani Brown, Maxine Kahaulelio, Ranette Robinson and Kelii W. Ioane — were among 38 arrested in July 2019 while protesting construction of the TMT.

Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach said the state failed to meet its burden since the evidence showed the wide load trucks that were on Mauna Kea Access Road did not have permits so there was no obstruction.

“Evidence that Mauna Kea Access Road was closed or restricted to the public coupled with no permits equals no obstruction,” said Laubach….

read … In first ruling on TMT arrests, judge finds 4 kupuna not guilty of obstruction

This Vegas civic club serves 50,000 former Hawaii residents. It could soon be serving more.

HNN: … Market experts say Hawaii’s slowly rebounding economy and tougher COVID restrictions are likely to spur more Hawaii families to make the move to the mainland, including Las Vegas.

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas is also preparing for an increase in interest from the islands.

“We continue to see interest from Hawaii students every year,” said Woody Hoshibata, an admissions coordinator for UNLV.

Hoshibata works specifically with students from Hawaii looking to study at UNLV, saying many students often build roots in Nevada post-graduation.

“I think more Hawaii students that graduate from UNLV are keeping the valley as an option,” said Hoshibata. “Las Vegas is constantly growing and developing and we have the right academic programs to propel us in moving forward.”…

What could draw more Hawaii residents to Las Vegas?

Economists says jobs and a lower cost of living would likely be the biggest factor prompting Hawaii families to make the jump.

Las Vegas fully reopened June 1, leading to a hiring frenzy.

Hawaii’s economy is also improving, but the jobs market has been slower to rebound.

Former Hawaii residents living in Las Vegas say they wouldn’t be surprised to see more folks from the islands making the trek to Nevada in the months ahead.

“The cost of living was too high,” said Judy Susuki, who used to live on Maui.

She moved to Las Vegas in 2017 to pursue a career in real estate. She said housing affordability is one of the central reasons Hawaii families make the move to Nevada.

In June, Las Vegas saw a median home price of $395,000.

Meanwhile, the median price of a single-family home on Oahu just topped $1 million….

read … This Vegas civic club serves 50,000 former Hawaii residents. It could soon be serving more.

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