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Thursday, May 14, 2020
May 14, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:09 PM :: 1514 Views

Useless: Screeners Let Feverish COVID-Positive Passenger Enter Hawaii, Infect Family

Two Months Late: UH and DOH Partner for COVID-19 Contact Tracing Training Program

COVID Borrow and Spend Plan will Burden Taxpayers for Years to Come

DLNR COVID Plan: Expand Hunting to Feed the People

Rep Case to FAA: Allow Hawaii to Require COVID Testing to Board Airplane

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Individual Income Taxes?

HIDOE closing out 2019-20 school year

Feeding Molokai - Malama Meals Brings Hope Amidst Coronavirus

DoH Bungling Allows COVID Cluster at Kalihi Valley Public Housing

CB: … Anderson said the first cases were identified “at least a couple of weeks ago.”

Hakim Ouansafi, executive director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, told Civil Beat he was informed of a single confirmed case in Kalihi Valley Homes on Monday.

Two weeks ago, Ouansafi said, the two agencies were only discussing coordination and outreach.

Ouansafi said Anderson called him after Wednesday’s press conference to confirm that more than one person within a single family has been infected with the virus.

After learning about one confirmed case on Monday, Public Housing Authority staff went to each unit in the complex Wednesday to inform them of the situation and provide them with additional masks, Ouansafi said. He said that the agency had already provided every household with masks as a precaution….

“All of the households there are three-bedroom, four-bedroom, five-bedroom so it’s not unusual that a family has five, six, seven, eight people,” Ouansafi said.

“In these conditions, it’s particularly difficult with the crowded conditions to isolate individuals,” Anderson said at Wednesday’s press conference.

Ouansafi said the agency has three empty units in Kalihi Valley Homes available to help quarantine people who are sick with COVID-19. He is waiting to hear from the Department of Health about whether they are needed.

Each public housing complex has units designated for COVID-19 quarantine, the executive director said, adding that the agency also has interpreters and translators standing by.

Ouansafi said that the Health Department had planned to conduct outreach at the public housing complex this week but it was pushed back twice and now is scheduled for next week.

The health department is conducting more testing at Kalihi Valley Homes this week and Ouansafi said the housing authority sent flyers to residents earlier this year letting them know that free coronavirus testing is available….

read … First COVID-19 Cases Reported In Hawaii Public Housing    

Hawaii futility and absurdity are the norms

CB: …see the governor’s handling of the virus through the public’s lens of “same old, same old.”

That perception looks like this:

Of course the coronavirus response has been far from business-as-usual in so many ways.

But there also has been a kind of state government-esque, go-by-the book quality to it: we are moving cautiously; sticking to the protocols. The team is in place.

The masters of disaster. Sensible leaders doing sensible things.

At least that is the governor’s mantra. It’s also the mantra on steroids of Department of Health head Bruce Anderson, first in regard to testing and now contact tracing.

Sensible, sensible, everything is sensible.

Sensible — on the surface. But beneath the surface, where the public lives, it is not sensible at all, exemplifying just another day in the life of historically crappy state government. Worthy of our cynicism, not our approval….

As a result, it is easy to view the state’s failure to pay unemployment benefits on time as not simply a COVID-19 problem but rather as the tip of an iceberg of benefits mismanagement and technical infrastructure problems that have plagued Hawaii forever.

Which, by the way, the governor promised to fix.

And boom! goes the cynicism.

It should not surprise us that there is such public disappointment and distaste for Hawaii’s state government. Admit it, folks. What those polls show is the way you typically talk about it. And yet publicly we let “sensible” conceal this longstanding incompetence.

Hawaii has a tepid sort of politics, low voter turnout, an extremely weak Republican Party and a sense among elites that politics is more about managing than mobilizing. The public’s basic disgust and discouragement get lost in this sensibleness shuffle.

An historically rooted combination of malaise, pessimism and being pissed off. People think about the Thirty Meter Telescope when they assess the governor’s coronavirus response.

Hawaii has become decadent. That’s not the term most of us would use, but see how close Hawaii is to the way Ross Douthat describes decadence in his recent book.

Decadence, he says, “is a very active time, full of deep concerns, but peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear lines of advance. … Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.”

“When people accept futility and the absurd as normal,” Douthat goes on to say, “the culture is decadent.”

It’s impossible to transform a place if futility and absurdity are the norms….

read … Public Disdain For Ige Goes Far Deeper Than His Pandemic Job

Did False Positive Shut Down Legislative Session?

SA: … State Sen. Clarence Nishihara, whose positive COVID-19 test led to the March 19 shutdown of the state Capitol, said Wednesday his test may have been a false positive.

Shortly after Nishihara tested positive, state officials closed the Capitol. The 2020 Legislative session was suspended March 16. Lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday for a six- to 10-day mini session.

Nishihara said he has had three antibody tests since his positive COVID-19 test, and those tests suggest he may have never had the virus. A positive antibody test is an indication that an individual has had COVID-19 and is unlikely to get it again. Nishihara said his three antibody tests, including one at a blood bank, were all negative….

read ... Hawaii state senator questions whether he had COVID-19

Kauai: Nearly 500 cited for breaking rules

TGI: … Nearly 500 misdemeanor citations have been doled out relating to breaking state and county emergency rules set in place to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Kaua‘i Police Department has issued 493 citations as of May 11 since March, according to a department spokesperson.

The majority of violations, 284 to be exact, stem from the islandwide 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that was lifted last week….

read … Nearly 500 cited for breaking rules

People struggling, and need help fast

SA Editorial: … it was startling to hear Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, the incident commander of Hawaii’s coronavirus response, voice his concern about the financial wreckage families are enduring.

“If we let the economy go the way it’s going, I feel there will be significant civil unrest that could lead to civil disobedience and, worst case, civil disturbance and rioting,” Hara said upon the reconvening of the Legislature on Monday.

The needed point he was making was that hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents, having lost all or much of their income through the COVID-19 business shutdown, are on edge; without the restart of economic activity, that tension could break into the open….

read … People struggling, and need help fast

Public officials cite virus while limiting access to records

AP: … Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, issued one of the most sweeping orders, suspending the state’s entire open-records law in mid-March. Following an outcry among open-records advocates, Ige revised his order last week. The new order still suspends specific deadlines to provide records but encourages agencies to acknowledge and respond to requests “as resources permit.”

Attorney Brian Black, who helped negotiate the compromise, described Ige’s original order as “extreme and unnecessary.” ….

read … Public officials cite virus while limiting access to records

DLIR has not begun processing PUA Payments Yet

SA: … The state expects to begin processing applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance on Friday, said Bill Kunstman, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

If all goes well, “clean” applications in the initial batch should be paid by about five days later, he said Wednesday.

read … If all goes well

Poll: Majority believes Hawaii is moving in right direction against COVID-19

SA: … In the survey by Honolulu-based SMS Research & Marketing Service Inc., 64% of residents believe that the government’s response to the epidemic is so far being managed well. Only 25% feel the government’s handling of the situation is going wrong, while 10% didn’t know or refused to answer…

the older the respondent, the more they felt the state was doing right by them, with 90% of those 75 or older saying the state is moving in the right direction, compared to 54% of the people under 35 answering the same….

The only immediate change in policy wanted by more adults, according to the survey, was to open beaches and parks to unlimited activity (37%).

More than half, meanwhile, want to keep the following measures intact for a couple of months or longer: closed schools and universities, social distancing, discouraging tourists, no large groups and no team sports….

Rex said many in the survey seemed rather cautious about opening up the economy, with most saying they will be taking a “wait and see” approach before patronizing businesses when they do reopen….

Nearly half of adults believe the situation is slowly getting better, while 15% said it’s almost over. But 26% still believe recovery has stalled or is growing worse...

About 36% of adults are struggling financially while having to draw on savings, run up debt or be supported by others.

What’s more, nearly 20% of people worry about having enough food for their family, and about 6% said they rely on a nonprofit for food….

PDFs: A1 pie , Covid 19 Poll , covid-19 poll2

read … Majority believes Hawaii is moving in right direction against COVID-19

Fed re-open cycles would have cleared Hawaii twice -- as color-coded Hawaii plan with no timeline stays under wraps

HNN: … Ige says instead it will cite conditions for phases, such as number of new cases, test and contact tracing ability, and health care system capacity.

“All of those would determine whether we go to the next phase of the reopening, so there will not be a plan that has an explicit arbitrary schedule,” Ige said.

So are we still red-flagged? Orange? Yellow? Or soon getting a green light?

“From my perspective having studied this we’re already in the green,” Green said.

According to federal guidelines, Hawaii has met the criteria for successive reopening phases several times already now.

The reopening directives the White House issued in April said anywhere with declining case numbers or a downward trend in positive test percentages can open a new phase every two weeks, starting with Phase 1 low-risk businesses, then Phase 2 medium-risk things like restaurant dining, and finally even larger group settings like movie theaters in Phase 3.

Hawaii’s positive test percentage has been dropping steadily since early April, today wrapping up the fifth week of that trend (2.79% of tests were positive as of April 9, versus just 1.64% of tests positive as of May 13). On that measure, Hawaii has cleared a full two of what the feds call “gating” cycles, which could already have warranted Phase Three re-openings. …

TSD: San Diego Firm Develops Model Predicting When States Can Reopen for Business

SA: Hawaii’s economy is reopening, but tourism remains on lockdown

read … Fed re-open cycles cleared twice as color-coded Hawaii plan with no timeline stays under wraps

This Federal Bailout Is Bringing A Lot More Money To Hawaii Than The Last One In 2008

CB: … The Great Recession’s federal stimulus program focused on building projects while CARES is putting more money directly into the pockets of residents and business owners ….

read … This Federal Bailout Is Bringing A Lot More Money To Hawaii Than The Last One In 2008

How Honolulu Will Spend $487 Million In Federal Funds

CB: …Honolulu will benefit from several pots of money. It has $387 million from the federal CARES Act. The largest chunk of that, $166 million, will be spent on grants for households, small businesses and child care.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has already announced two $25 million programs, one for individuals and one for small businesses. The funding for each could be doubled for a total of $100 million if necessary, he said….

The next biggest allotment, $126 million, will go toward public safety including recruitment, personal protective gear, equipment, sanitation supplies and rapid response vehicles.

Ten percent of the CARES funds – or $38 million – is earmarked for homeless shelter overflow and quarantine….

Three allotments of $19 million will go toward recovery planning and processing, administrative costs and equipment and construction.

Separately, Honolulu has several grants from which it can disperse funds for specialized purposes. It has over $90 million for transportation, much of which will be spent to offset $72 million in budget cuts to TheBus and HandiVan. None will be used for rail. (Instead it will free up other money from TheBus and Handivan which will be spent on rail.)

The city has already spent about $10 million on personal protective equipment for employees and transportation sanitization…

SA: New IHS facility among virus-related city projects

read … How Honolulu Will Spend $487 Million In Federal Funds

Stopgaps and Creative Financing: Trimmed Budget Ready For Final Senate Vote

CB: … State agencies will lose funding for vacant positions and other unused monies under a new draft of the state’s operating budget, which won preliminary approval by a Senate panel Wednesday.

House Bill 2200, the budget bill, is just one piece of a package of bills the Legislature plans to approve to plug a $1 billion hole in the state’s $8 billion general fund budget.

The new budget cuts about $357 million in either unspent funds or funding for positions that have not been filled by state agencies. The bill is pared with others still pending in the state House of Representatives which would also move $270 million into bond financing and also tap another $25 million in Medicaid reimbursements….

(Translation: They are hoping for a post-election Federal bailout if the Dems sweep the Nov federal elections.)

The new draft of the budget also does not include any of Gov. David Ige’s $429 million in supplemental budget requests.

Lawmakers plan to tap $359 million in the state’s rainy day fund to plug the budget hole….

The Ways and Means Committee also passed a new state capital improvement plan with about $2 billion worth of bond financing. The total two-year capital improvements budget is about $5 billion….

Some highlights of that budget include:

  • $100 million to widen Farrington Highway near Kapolei
  • $3 million for a long-term care facility for veterans
  • $34 million for Hawaiian Home Lands
  • $17 million for state tech upgrades
  • $153 million for various Department of Education improvements
  • Over $43 million for gender equity projects at schools statewide
  • $571 million for airport improvements
  • $45 million for the Hawaii Health Systems Corp.

The committee also passed  HB 1631, which would allow Ige to tap into $2.1 billion worth of federal loans to have cash on hand in case of further budget crisis.

All three bills must still pass a final vote by the 25-member Senate and get approval from the House….

SA: New construction budget draft features $76 million for new Wahiawa civic center

MN: $5.1B CIP budget focuses on projects that are ready to go

SA: Ige says there is no ‘immediate need’ for public worker pay cuts

read … Trimmed Budget Ready For Final Senate Vote

Kauai Mayor proposes $33.6 million CIP budget

TGI: … When Mayor Derek Kawakami submitted a supplemental budget revision at the end of last week, it included a $10 million reduction in the proposed operating budget, and a $768,493 reduction in capital improvement projects for the budget period beginning July 1.

The CIP budget, which the Kaua‘i County Council will discuss in a meeting Friday, is proposed at $33,642,237, down from $34,410,730, which was submitted in early March, before the county could gauge how long-standing the coronavirus pandemic would affect revenue streams. This proposed budget is $6.2 million less than the approved FY20 budget….

read … Mayor proposes $33.6 million CIP budget

Despite policy pronouncements, whether universities will reopen this year is an open question

ILind: … the announcements seem more aspirational than definitive, given the uncertainties of the coronavirus and the prognosis for the slow step-by-step reopening of our community that is just now getting underway. Whether students will be ready to return, given health and concerns, is one question. Another is whether faculty are going to be eager to re-enter the “You bet your life” scene that reopened university campuses could be in just a few months. And, even if all are willing, it’s unclear whether there is enough available time and money to make necessary alterations to classrooms and other public spaces across the campuses to accommodate required social distancing, along with procuring and providing for the testing and contact tracking that will be a necessary condition of reopening….

There are a good number of senior faculty in the “high risk” age groups, others caring for parents who are vulnerable. And faculty of all ages are rightly concerned with the risks of being exposed to the virus in a newly reopened campus and then bringing it home with them.

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the faculty union, hasn’t yet addressed the university’s planning for a return to in-person teaching and learning.

The chancellor of the California State University’s 23-campus system has announced that they are proceeding with planning for a mostly-virtual fall semester.

read … Despite policy pronouncements, whether universities will reopen this year is an open question

Pedestrian death count down nearly 50% in Hawaii

KITV: … The number of pedestrians hit and killed on Hawaii's roads so far this year stands at 9. There were 17 pedestrian deaths over this same period of time last year….

read … Pedestrian death count down nearly 50% in Hawaii

Gary Hooser Toys With Anti-Vaxxer Conspiracy Theories

TGI: … connecting dots of “known truths” with dots of “well it could be true” with dots of “it was once true” with dots of “someone told me it was true” and circling back around to the dots of “known truths” — the more the cycle is repeated, the more believable it becomes.

… I have no doubt that big pharma is racing to develop a vaccine, and that when it happens they will make billions….I do my best to also “connect the dots”….there are those for whom vaccines aren’t good, with some people becoming sick or dying from adverse reactions to certain vaccines….

The basic premise is that entities such as Bill Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, George Soros, the Deep State, Jeff Bezos, the military-industrial complex or (fill in the blank) — have individually or collectively in collaboration with China, Russia, the Central Intelligence Agency, Israel or (fill in the blank) engineered and deliberately released into the world the COVID-19 virus…..

read … Anti-GMO Whackjob Hooser Panders to Anti-Vaxxer Conspiracy Theories

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