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Tuesday, January 5, 2021
January 5, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:49 PM :: 1407 Views

Rail critic Natalie Iwasa named to HART board of directors

Totally Trumped: Hawaii Republicans Call on Pence to Overturn Electoral College Votes

2020: A Year in the Life of a Healthcare Worker

Physician Workforce Assessment Project -- 50% Shortage in Many Specialties

World getting better!

What COVID Emergency? Let's Quadruple Hawaii's Phony Hi-Tech Tax Credits

Which Hawaii Towns Have Worst Credit Card Debt?

American Samoa Begins Repatriating Stranded Residents

Higher state taxes under consideration—So Big We Can’t Explain

SA: … Gov. David Ige’s administration is considering unspecified tax increases and “revenue enhancements” to help plug a projected $1.4 billion shortfall, members of the state Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means were told Monday.

State Budget and Finance Director Craig Hirai was unable to explain how much revenue the unidentified tax increases and revenue enhancements were expected to generate during awkward confrontations involving committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Wahiawa- Mililani Mauka) and state Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D, Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki).

“I’m not sure. … I’ll get back to you,” Hirai said. “We’re still finalizing that. … We had some ideas, but we’d rather not … We’re reassessing what we’re doing right now terms of — in light of — circumstances for the biennium budget. We don’t want to get people excited about tax increases ….”

Hirai said the administration is “looking more carefully at special fund transfers.”

Under repeated questioning from Dela Cruz and Moriwaki, Hirai was unable to specify how much revenue would be generated either through increased taxes, revenue enhancements or special fund transfers.

He said that any possible proposals would be articulated in a package of bills from Ige’s administration….

read … Higher state taxes under consideration

DoH Purposefully Slow-Walking COVID 19 vaccines—“all part of the plan”

KITV: … More than 82,000 corona virus vaccines have arrived in Hawaii, but they are piling up faster than they are given out. Which is all part of the the state's OVID 19 vaccination plan….

The state is in no rush to get COVID-19 vaccines out to residents.
So far, less than half the state's allotment has been administered.
It has been three weeks since Hawaii started getting doses. More than 82,000 vaccines have arrived, but they are piling up faster than they are given out. Which is all part of the the state's COVID 19 vaccination plan….

The state's initial vaccines have been given out to those in the first group eligible: which includes healthcare workers and elderly in care homes….

But when it comes to Honolulu's first responders, who are also in the first group to get the vaccine, the rate is less than 60%...even though they started getting shots several weeks ago.

With the state sitting on tens of thousands of doses, some wonder why more vaccines for other groups haven't been given out….

"We plan on a 48-72 hour delay after we get the vaccine, until we deliver the vaccine. We are not going to rush into this. This has been done in a safe and methodical manner. We have to make sure logistically everything is lined up, and we we make sure we don't waste vaccines. This is very precious cargo," added Baehr….

The state has a plan outlining which groups get the vaccine next, which would include front workers who could be exposed to COVID on a daily basis. But the DOH is revising that plan to match federal guidelines so residents with certain medical conditions or based on their age could move up or down under the soon-to-be-released plan.
Although the state does have a idea of when it would like to have all willing residents vaccinated.

"We are hoping enough people get the vaccine, so sometime this summer we can achieve herd immunity," stated Baehr….

read … State slowly sending out COVID 19 vaccines

Sound Familiar???  DoH Blames Holidays, Feds, Logistics For Slow rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan

HNN: … The rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan has been slower than first expected….

Two more shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine were expected to arrive today, bringing the total number of doses the state’s received to 91,700.

The focus now is getting all healthcare providers who aren’t affiliated with a hospital signed up for the shot. All independent healthcare providers will need to register for the vaccine on the Hawaii Department of Health’s website.

That form, which can be viewed here, includes 31 questions.

“Based on their office location they will be mapped to a hospital, one of these hospital vaccination hubs. And the hospital vaccination hub will reach out to them by email or cell phone, by text, and connect with them so they can schedule and appointment,” said Raethel.

Some new details about vaccinating the broader public are expected to be announced in a press conference scheduled for Tuesday….

Remember This?  VIDEO: Hawaii DoH Official Goes on 10-minute Rant Against Corona Testing

read … The rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan has been slower than first expected.

Green Pushing DoH to Stop Dawdling

KITV: … Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said as of Tuesday morning, the state will have received 91,000 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

"The more resources we have to implement the vaccination program the faster we’ll get the vaccines out the door," said the Lt. Governor at Monday's Senate Ways and Means Committee meeting.

Green cited physical space to store an administer the vaccine.

"If we have as many places as we can fund, then instead of having a two or three week delay we can put vaccines into arms the very same week they arrive," explained Lt. Governor Green.

Specifically - Green said he’d like to see the Department of Health strike a deal with the Hawaii Convention Center to make it an inoculation site.

"I’m hearing that might not be something they’re willing to waive the cost on even though we own it," he said.

Green outlined the vaccination process, taking place in phases, saying "Phase 1A," encompassing healthcare workers and folks in long-term care facilities, should be complete in February.

He said "Phase 1B," includes more than 150,000 people, mainly "critical infrastructure" workers and folks older than 75.

As for when you can receive the vaccine at your nearest pharmacy -- Lt. Governor Green said that will likely be when the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZenca are available, as they do not require sub-freezing temperatures.

read … Lt. Governor Josh Green Wants More Resources Dedicated to Vaccination Effort

Economic forecast: Visitor numbers could hit 6M this year

HTH: … While fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak slashed the total number of visitor arrivals to the state in 2020 to only 27% of 2019’s total, Bonham said an optimistic projection for the state’s economic recovery could see tourism numbers return to 80% of 2019’s total by the end of this year.

Bonham added that a more pessimistic projection would see visitor numbers only increase to 50% of 2019 levels, but said he was more inclined to believe recovery will be on the higher end of that scale.

The primary driver of that recovery will naturally be tourism, Bonham said….

read … Economic forecast: Visitor numbers could hit 6M this year

Kaua‘i students go back to school on Blended Schedule

TGI: … “I’m excited,” Fontana Moraes said on Monday during the Teacher Workday at the Kilauea School. “They follow the same A/B Hybrid Learning schedule as the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School. Tuesday is the ‘B’ schedule, and I’m so excited about getting to meet the students in the ‘B’ group.”

Fontana Moraes said she was hired as the TAP on Dec. 30, taking the place of Kilauea School principal Sherry Gonsalves who is on personal leave through the remainder of the school year….

Schools may support an A/B, A/B/C, or A/B/C/D schedule depending on each school’s capacity….

“We are making these changes due to the current COVID-19 case count and infection rate for our island,” said Paul Zina, the Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent in the published announcement on the Kaua‘i Public Schools website. “Our priorities remain on health and safety, reaching our most vulnerable students, and having a positive impact on our families — especially those with students in multiple schools throughout the complex area.”

The Kaua‘i Area Complex office will work with the school principals to develop plans for each school model of instruction with considerations for community-specific needs. These plans can be found on the Kaua‘i Public School Launch page at bit.ly/kauaipublicschools….

Meanwhile on Maui: Blended learning postponed for some schools

(Advice to HSTA: Get on the phone with the DoH.  Tell them to ‘find’ COVID cases.  Maybe 11,780 cases.  Make sure the call isn’t being recorded.)

read … Kaua‘i students go back to school

Will Hawaii Legislature Reverse Ige’s Suspension Of The Public Records Law?

CB: … The Hawaii law granting public access to government records has been suspended for 293 days as of Monday under one of dozens of executive orders that Gov. David Ige issued at the start of the pandemic.

The move was not popular among state lawmakers and there is no indication of when the governor might lift his order. But it’s also not an issue that lawmakers have plans to address yet, at least directly, as they head into the 2021 session, which starts Jan. 20.

“We haven’t really looked at the specificity of bills in that regard,” Senate President Ron Kouchi said Thursday….

read … Will Hawaii Legislature Reverse Ige’s Suspension Of The Public Records Law?

Hawaii Employees' Retirement System on Government Workers' Exodus

HPR: … Facing possible furloughs and layoffs, some public employees opt to retire … The number of government workers who put in for retirement at the end of 2020 is up. We talked to Thom Williams, the executive director of the Hawaii Employees' Retirement System, in the last week of December. His office fielded a boost in inquiries from many state and county employees. Between the talk of furloughs and layoffs and the realities of working remotely many have certainly been wondering if it was time to retire….

read … Hawaii Employees' Retirement System on Government Workers' Exodus

Violence against women in abusive relationships escalated during pandemic, experts say

HNN: … While police reports of domestic abuse cases were down slightly last year, Kreidman says violence against women in already abusive situations has increased during COVID-19 lockdowns.

She said that job losses and other economic strains caused by the pandemic also made it more difficult for women in abusive households to escape….

read … Violence against women in abusive relationships escalated during pandemic, experts say

Hawaii Restaurant Card gave a nice boost, but $5M never spent

KHON: …About $3 million from cards that were never activated and nearly $2 million from unused card balances. The state says some of the cards were inadvertently thrown away or went to the wrong address. The unused money goes to the state’s unemployment fund. If more federal funds are released, the state would like to send another round of restaurant cards….

read … Hawaii Restaurant Card gave a nice boost, but $5M never spent

Judge dismisses obstruction case against Kealoha conspiracy victim

HNN: … A federal judge has granted a motion to drop all charges against a man who was coerced into lying to a grand jury during the Kealoha conspiracy investigation after prosecutors said his continued prosecution ‘would not serve the interests of justice.’

Ransen Taito became entangled in the conspiracy involving former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha when he was just 11 years old. After Taito and his sister were awarded nearly $84,000 as part of a medical malpractice settlement, Kealoha was appointed by the state to oversee trust accounts that were established for both of them….

CB: Conspiracy Charge Dismissed Against Katherine Kealoha Victim

read … Judge dismisses obstruction case against Kealoha conspiracy victim

EPA Muddies the Water on Permitting Discharges to Groundwater ‎and What the Biden Administration Will Likely Do About It

JDS: …The EPA did issue a draft guidance memorandum relating to the County of Maui decision, notice of which was published in the Federal Register on December 10, ‎‎2020. However, instead of clarifying the seven criteria stated by the Court in County of ‎Maui or the application of those criteria, the EPA took seven and half pages to state ‎three truisms and added an additional criteria not stated in the Court’s decision ‎bringing the total number of factors to consider in determining whether a discharge to ‎ground water is the functional equivalent of a discharge to navigable waters to eight. ‎…

I expect that the Biden EPA will likely rescind the Trump draft ‎guidance. They may try to draft interim guidance but, ultimately, I expect that the Biden ‎EPA will issue a rule regarding the process for permitting discharges to ground water ‎under the NPDES program. I expect that this rule will address issues such as which ‎impacts to navigable waters from groundwater discharges are sufficient to trigger ‎NPDES permitting requirements and what types of data, including modeling and ‎monitoring, are required to track such impacts. Such a rule will likely seek to further ‎delineate between the authority of state governments and the federal government in ‎permitting discharges to ground water. In addition to the criteria stated by the Court in ‎the County of Maui decision, I expect any rule issued by a Biden EPA to seek to ‎ensure that any prospective permit to discharge to ground water is evaluated for its ‎eventual impact to communities of color and communities that have been ‎disproportionately negatively affected by environmental permitting decisions on the ‎past. Likewise, permitting will likely consider both direct and indirect climate change ‎impacts.….

read … EPA Muddies the Water on Permitting Discharges to Groundwater ‎and What the Biden Administration Will Likely Do About It

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