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Thursday, October 14, 2021
October 14, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:15 AM :: 1076 Views

COVID Money: Stacy Higa Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Embezzlement

Most Hawaii residents want lower taxes, new survey shows

COVID-19 meets its match: UH football

Star-Adv Finally Corrects False News Report Which Fuels Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories

CB: … “Flu Proves Deadlier than Covid” read the headline stripped across the top of Monday’s edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. …

There was only one problem: It was dead wrong.

For one, according to the state Department of Health, contrary to the headline, flu was listed as the cause of death in only one case during the 2020-2021 flu season. …

And … Covid drove up the pneumonia deaths cited by the newspaper as being separate from the pandemic….

(CLUE: Flu is a disease caused by flu virus, pneumonia is not a disease.  Pneumonia is a symptom of several diseases including COVID.)

“Covid is by far the dominant respiratory pathogen that has been driving pneumonia mortality and all-cause mortality,” health department epidemiologist Josh Quint said.

As of Wednesday evening, the Star-Advertiser had not corrected the story. (See update below.)  In the meantime, it’s being cited on social media as evidence that officials have overreacted to the pandemic, imposing unnecessary restrictions and mandating vaccines for certain workers.

“Flu and Pneumonia deaths exceeded covid deaths in Hawaii over the past year and are accelerating. Vaccine damage to peoples immune systems? Or was covid just the flu this whole time?,” one person (antivaxxer bot) tweeted.

On Tuesday, without mentioning the daily newspaper, the health department issued a statement from Sarah Kemble, the state epidemiologist, contradicting the story.

“In Hawaiʻi and around the world, COVID-19 was far deadlier than the flu during the 2020-2021 flu season,” Kemble said in the statement. “There was one confirmed influenza death in Hawaiʻi between Sept. 27, 2020 and Oct. 2, 2021. This is compared to 608 COVID-19 deaths in the same reporting period.”

(UPDATE: Star-Adv story has been totally rewritten online.)

Today’s Star-Adv: Hawaii flu-pneumonia report includes ‘hundreds’ of COVID-19 fatalities -- “A Page 1 headline on a Monday Honolulu Star-Advertiser article about the influenza season incorrectly stated the flu was deadlier than COVID-19.” (Star-Adv then goes on to blame DoH.)

read … False News Report On Hawaii Flu Deaths Fuels Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories

HART Says It Didn’t Get A Key Report On Track Woes. The Contractor Says Otherwise

CB: … The local agency overseeing Honolulu rail and a safety expert it hired are curiously at odds over whether that consultant actually submitted its final report on the transit project’s wheel and track problems.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation spokesman Joey Manahan said via text last week that the report from rail research and development firm TTCI “is not yet received” and that the agency now expects to get it “in the November time frame.”

It was one of the few details HART would share for a Civil Beat story regarding HART’s recent struggles to award a contract for welding work to help fix the issues with its track crossings, or “frogs,” where the Hitachi Rail-manufactured train wheels are too narrow to function properly. 

After that story was published last week, however, TTCI contacted Civil Beat to say that it did in fact deliver its report on the wheel and track crossing problems to HART.

“TTCI has been working closely with our partners at HART to ensure that we are meeting their needs for this project,” the Colorado-based company said in a statement Friday. “In this case, TTCI delivered our report on schedule without compromising quality.”

Asked Friday to clarify the status of the TTCI report, Manahan simply replied via email: “Your story is all wrong.” When asked what details specifically needed correcting, Manahan responded, “We will provide you the correct information.”

He followed up a day later with another email stating, “Thank you for the opportunity, but HART will not be responding.”….

read … HART Says It Didn’t Get A Key Report On Track Woes. The Contractor Says Otherwise

Hawaii hotels see momentum as holiday season approaches

KHON: … Many in the tourism industry are hoping for a busy holiday season as COVID cases continue on a downward trend. Hotel operators said the more bookings that come in, the more employees they will be able to bring back to work.

Hotel properties are bouncing back from a very slow fall season that was in part affected by the Gov. David Ige’s announcement for non-essential travel to pause.

The Prince Waikiki General Manager Joshua Hargrove said they are starting to see more confidence from people who are booking travel towards the end of the year festivities.

“Occupancy is starting to get back. We’re starting to get bookings,” Hargrove said. “We’re starting to get our staff back to work, so it’s looking positive. We’re on the upswing.”

Hargrove said bookings plummeted in September to below half occupancy, compared to a busy summer when they were almost fully operating with the exception of large events at the property’s ballrooms….

read … Hawaii hotels see momentum as holiday season approaches

Maui County to ease restrictions, gathering limits, starting this weekend

SA: … Maui County will be easing pandemic related restrictions on gathering sizes and time limits on serving alcohol, starting this Saturday.

Gov. David Ige reviewed and approved the new set of emergency rules for Maui County which increases social gatherings of up to 10 people indoors, and 25 people outdoors….

read … Maui County to ease restrictions, gathering limits, starting this weekend

Hawaii already has a high cost of living. Inflation means it’s about to get worse.

HNN: … Consumer prices nationwide reached their highest in a decade last month, potentially impacting local businesses and consumers.

“I’m self-employed and I have stuff coming in, the prices are already 20%, 30% up,” said Reggie Apana, who imports sporting goods….[

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the Consumer Price Index ― which measures what Americans pay for housing, groceries, gasoline and other goods and services ― rose by 5.4% from the previous year.

Hawaii’s inflation rate, which is reported twice a year and not monthly, tends to mirror the national inflation rate but not on everything….

read … Hawaii already has a high cost of living. Inflation means it’s about to get worse.

Lassner to UH faculty, staff, students: Prepare to be on campus next spring

HTH: … University of Hawaii President David Lassner on Monday sent a memo to all UH faculty and staff, telling department chairs and faculty to “carefully review your spring 2022 schedules and make adjustments to the mode of instruction to provide our students across the UH system with the on-campus educational experience they need and expect.”

Noting COVID-19 case numbers and hospital occupancy numbers statewide “are now trending in the right direction” and vaccination rates exceed national averages, Lassner said all UH system campuses “will return to full utilization of our classrooms per CDC guidelines and we are confident this will be a safe transition.”…

read … Lassner to UH faculty, staff, students: Prepare to be on campus next spring

Hawaii Is Losing More Teachers Than Ever Amid Pandemic Fatigue

CB: … Hawaii had 25% more public school teachers retire or resign during the 2020-21 academic year compared with the previous year, a sign that pandemic-related fatigue could be driving educators away from the job.

According to numbers provided by the Department of Education, 428 teachers retired in the last school year, compared with 287 in 2019-20, 274 the year before that and 275 in the school year ending in 2018.

Another 771 educators resigned from DOE in the last school year for non-retirement reasons — such as leaving the state, moving to a different job or quitting for family or personal reasons — compared with 674 in 2019-20 and 755 in 2018-19.

Altogether, that reflects 1,199 teacher separations from the DOE last year, compared with 961 the prior year….

According to the survey, 364 indicated they would quit teaching this summer, while another 201 said they planned to retire. That was based on a total sum of roughly 9,000 respondents.

“If many of them do follow through on their plans,” a DOE report analyzing the results stated, “the (DOE) may face an even greater teacher shortage next school year.”…

read … Hawaii Is Losing More Teachers Than Ever Amid Pandemic Fatigue

HPD Reviewing New Bodycam Policy After Judge’s Ruling

CB: … A new Honolulu Police department policy says body-worn camera footage won’t be released until an investigation is finished but that appears to be in conflict with a recent court ruling that ordered all footage to be made public.

Late last month, a state judge ordered the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to release all police body camera footage connected to the shooting death of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap — a ruling that undermined the police department’s new policy set just days earlier.

On Sept. 24, the HPD published its latest policy on the release of body camera footage. The policy states that footage will not be released before the completion of a related investigation, a noticeable change from the department’s previous policy which had no such caveat.

“Before there was no rule as far as when body camera (footage) was released to the public for external use,” Interim Chief Rade Vanic said at the Honolulu Police Commission Meeting last week. “So this just clarifies, that according to the latest update, that all body-worn camera footage shall be released, but not prior to the completion related to the investigation.”…

read … HPD Reviewing New Bodycam Policy After Judge’s Ruling

Having Trouble Finding Homeless in Chinatown?

HNN: … Twice a week Dr. Christina Wang and her team of outreach workers strategically roam the streets of Chinatown providing medical care to the homeless.

The group cleans wounds, change diapers and tries to connect people with social services such as mental health care and housing.

But since the city started increasing police enforcement to weed out drugs and crime, many of the homeless have been displaced.

"The whole area has been completely empty, so we've lost contact with most of the folks that were normally there," she said. "If we don't see them for a couple of weeks that might really set us back where they might land in the emergency room or the hospital again with a more serious infection." …

A disabled elderly woman named Royce said she's been living on the streets for more than 30 years, most of the time in the neighborhood….

Increased police patrols in Chinatown -- part of the city's Weed and Seed program have led to a 128 arrests since the end of July….

read … City program disrupting homeless outreach services

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