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Tuesday, May 19, 2020
May 19, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:09 PM :: 870 Views

COVID: Hawaii 6th Most Restrictive State

Ige Extends Quarantine, Releases Recovery Plan

House Passes Bills to Allocate CARES Funds--Keeps $635M for a 'Rainy Day'

COVID Count: Another Day with No New Cases

Best States for Military Retirees -- Hawaii 47th

Health Department Orders Shutdown of Free Meal Service

The politics of fear overwhelming us today

SA: We are hearing a lot these days about testing and many of our recommendations and decision-making come to us from nonmedical individuals like mayors and governors. Wear a mask outside (even when not ill and of limited benefit), our jobs are restricted, our parks were temporarily closed, churches hold virtual services, restaurants closed except for takeout, our kids can’t go to school, no college students on campus, spectator sports ruled out, the list goes on and on. Buzzwords abound — social distancing, flatten the curve, stay safe, and watch out for the surge.

Our world appears to be spinning out of control despite the science that tells us that this particular virus is quite similar to what we have seen in the past. According to “R naught” data (which indicates how contagious an infectious disease is), COVID-19’s transmittability is not much higher than seasonal flu or even the common cold. Some 85-90% of infected individuals have minimal or no symptoms. As always, elderly individuals with chronic medical illness or a compromised immune systems are more at risk of serious illness like pneumonia or even death.….

read …  Column: The politics of fear overwhelming us today 

Ige Allows Anti-Testing Faction in Department of Health to Control Policy

CB: … The committee has determined that the prerequisite for the state to “incrementally” reopen before a vaccine exists is infrastructure to test, screen, monitor and quarantine. Details on the color-coded phased-recovery and reopening matrix were finally released Monday.

According to people familiar with the proceedings, Ige was mostly silent during the five-hour meeting, even though he is the state’s chief executive. Many in the room were in favor of moving forward with a reopening plan, but Ige tended to side with Anderson and Park, who work for him and who have stressed concerns about rising public health.

The DOH officials have instituted a state response distinguished by social distancing, something that most people agree is working. But there has been less urgency from the administration on testing and tracing the people COVID-19 cases have come in contact with.

Green, a medical doctor, has called for a massive increase in testing since the pandemic arrived in Hawaii in early March. Just last week, Schatz said Ige’s Cabinet is dragging its heels on contact tracing, even as the senator has helped secure tens of millions of dollars to do the work.

The five-hour meeting concluded without consensus and was followed up with more meetings the following week, when a plan was finally settled on. But the plan comes months after state officials were aware of the threat of COVID-19, again showing Ige slow to respond, and being reactive to events rather than proactive.

The five-hour meeting is described by those familiar with it as just one example of how much time and effort is expended to “get the governor to be a governor,” as one official put it.

“It is almost impossible for him to take decisive action,” said another official.

Another said, “He does not have the skill set to be a governor” — specifically, the fundamental ability to identify issues that need to be addressed, mobilize people to resolve them, provide direction and communicate what has to be done.…

Dr Park: VIDEO: Hawaii DoH Official Goes on 10-minute Rant Against Corona Testing

April 22, 2020: Hawaii’s Virus Response: ‘Medieval Frankenstein’ Sidelined

BJ: A Civil Beat Slip

read … David Ige, The Governor Who Cannot Govern

Ward, McDermott Plan for Reopening

SA: … “Once we open it up to tourism, we’re going to knowingly bring in infected people,” said state Rep. Bob McDermott during a recent cable television interview. McDermott, (R, Ewa Beach- Iroquois Point) was describing a testing program he has been promoting with House Minority Leader Gene Ward.

McDermott outlined an alarming scenario where the state tourism economy returns to one-third of its former level with about 10,000 arrivals per day. If 1%, or 100, of those people are virus carriers without any symptoms, and if those people infect three others during their stay in Hawaii, “from that 100 passengers in that one day, you have 300 new infections,” he said.

“It will only take a couple of weeks or months before you see this spike again, which will be untenable, and the local people will know where the spike came from,” McDermott said. “It didn’t come from Kalihi. It came from California, New York, Chicago, and they’re not going to be happy.”

Ward and McDermott are promoting a plan to require travelers to be tested 72 hours before they fly to Honolulu. Those who refuse would not be allowed to leave the Honolulu airport until they take a test, he said. Those who test positive in Honolulu would be turned over the National Guard to be placed in a mandatory quarantine facility….

CNN: People are flying again ... sort of

SA Short-term reboot remains murky

read … Ige faces the dilemma of eventually reopening to both tourists and new infections

Pay raises a bad idea now, and in 2021

SA: … A key Senate committee has failed to seize an opportunity to bolster public faith: it postponed, rather than scrapped, 10% pay raises slated for 76 state lawmakers. Through House Bill 117, the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week moved to defer — by six months, to July 2021 — raises that lift legislator salaries to $68,868.

This pay hike can’t be justified when more than a third of Hawaii’s labor force is sidelined by coronavirus shutdowns. Even in a healthy economy, the raise seems excessive given the annual 60-day session, spread across four months. In recent years, that has left ample time for many lawmakers to hold down other careers….

read … Pay raises a bad idea now, and in 2021

Maui County outlines rules for salons, church services

MN: … Maui County officials announced new requirements for hair and nail salons, religious drive-in services and dine-in restaurants, which are slated to reopen in the coming days….

read … County outlines rules for salons, church services

Hawaii distributes first pandemic unemployment assistance checks

SA: … The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported today that it has now paid out nearly $109.9 million in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The federal funds, which were approved as part of the CARES Act, offer support for the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers and freelancers. The PUA program also might cover some people who are seeking part-time work, lack sufficient work history or otherwise don’t qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits.

DLIR spokesman Bill Kunstman said today that the department first began distributing funds to PUA claimants on May 14….

read … Hawaii distributes first pandemic unemployment assistance checks

Revealed: Soft-on Crime Crowd Exhaust themselves to Release Criminals onto our Streets

SA: … Hawaii judges have finished ruling on 1,088 motions to release incarcerated individuals early over COVID-19 risks, and not many more inmates were set free after 655 last month.

A special master appointed by the Hawaii Supreme Court to oversee the initiative told a special state House committee Monday that the job is done.

“Essentially, the motions filed by the public defenders have been exhausted,” Special Master Daniel Foley told the committee….

There were 1,387 people locked up at Hawaii correctional facilities Friday, which was up from 1,366 a week earlier on May 8 and represented 802 fewer inmates since March 2, according to Department of Public Safety figures.

Between March 2 and May 1, the inmate population had dropped by 810, to 1,379 from 2,189….

HTH: Roth: Jail releases possibly more dangerous than outbreak

read … Hawaii inmate early-release reviews are over

Roth: Jail releases possibly more dangerous than outbreak

HTH: …Letters by the Big Island’s prosecutor and a pair of Oahu legislators object to the manner in which inmates are being released pursuant to a state Supreme Court order that seeks to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hawaii’s jails and prisons.

A May 12 letter by Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth to Daniel R. Foley, a retired appeals judge tasked by the high court to oversee the reduction in inmate population in Hawaii’s historically crowded correctional facilities, said his office is “very concerned about defendants who are repeat offenders, who after release, committed more crimes in the community.”

The letter said some of the offenders released “did not fit into the original group of offenders sought to be released” by a petition to the Supreme Court by the state Office of the Public Defender.

Roth wrote violent offenders “have been released over by the court(s) over state’s objections” and that some defendants “have been rearrested twice in one week.”

He said those defendants “have no incentive to change their behavior because the pattern established for them now is they will be released over state objections.”

According to Roth, those releases have “created a tipping point … where the release of dangerous and repeat offenders is more dangerous than the possibility of an outbreak overwhelming our care system.”

And a May 13 letter to Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald from Oahu Reps. Gene Ward and Bob McDermott, both Republicans, called for the Supreme Court to “please discontinue the early releases” under the Public Defender’s petition. The legislators added the reason for the Supreme Court’s order “is not valid since there has not been a single case of COVID-19 in any of the state’s correctional facilities.”

read … Roth: Jail releases possibly more dangerous than outbreak

Governor says He’s Got Plenty of Money Sloshing Around so Navigator and mainland consultants will be funded

KHON: … Gov. David Ige says he will still fund the recovery navigator and mainland consultants to do most of its work, this after lawmakers cut the $10 million line item from CARES Act spending last week.

“Certainly we will look at hiring all of the consultants that we need to ensure that we can move the state of Hawaii forward, that would include the Boston Consulting Group,” Ige said. “We do have adequate resources through various programs.”

“That is a lot of money, and it is also quite disturbing that $5 million was supposed to be used for an outside Boston Consulting Group,” said Sandy Ma of watchdog group Common Cause Hawaii. “I mean it’s not even in Hawaii.”

“I am concerned about having a planning process that is well organized and with accountability and in light of the time that we have, given the stages of recovery,” recovery navigator Alan Oshima told House lawmakers Monday prior to the governor’s news conference in which the governor addressed the continued funding. “I’d be the first to say I don’t need a job and I will stand down, but I think we’re all trying to get to the same result.”

Oshima told the House that specific operational guidelines are being split into 18 sectors, which will be posted to the recovery navigator website when complete….

May 16, 2020: Lawmakers cut Recovery Navigator money: “There really wasn’t a plan. The plan was to only pay for consultants,”

read … Governor says Navigator and mainland consultants will be funded

Department Heads Fight to Save ‘Vacant Positions’

CB: … After several hearings that included testimony from state agency heads, the chairs of the Legislature’s money committees now say they need to comb through the state’s $8 billion operating budget again to make sure no positions previously thought to be vacant have actually been filled.

Axing vacant positions made up a significant part of Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and Rep. Sylvia Luke’s strategy for plugging the budget hole. That facet of the financial plan could have saved well over $200 million.

Now, the amount is up in the air while the lawmakers work with state departments to sort out which positions are filled and which are vacant.

(Translation: Department heads want to keep the overtime slush fund flowing.  That’s what ‘vacant positions’ are for.)

“Only they know,” Dela Cruz said. “We cannot read their minds.”…

As of October, there were just over 3,000 vacant civil service positions, according to a December report from the state Department of Human Resources Development….

read … Lawmakers Still Eyeing Vacant Positions To Fill State Budget Hole

Waikiki retailers find that reopening is only step 1. Staying open could be the bigger challenge.

HNN: … Many newly-opened retailers are making only a fraction of what they used to — and their costs remain the same.

Malie Kai Chocolates in Waikiki saw just 10 customers in 10 hours on Sunday.

The chocolate shop’s owner says since returning to work Friday, business is down 95%.

He says in 16 years it’s never been this slow.

“We’re heavily dependent on tourists,” said Nathan Sato. “I don’t think we can survive much longer without getting a cash infusion from somewhere.” …

KHON: Experts say customers cautiously spending money as retail stores open

read … Waikiki retailers find that reopening is only step 1. Staying open could be the bigger challenge.

Hawaii Fishermen Are Stuck In Port As Federal Aid Falls Short

CB: … “We are the largest food producing industry in the state by a tremendous margin,” said Michael Goto, who’s the auction manager for United Fishing Agency in Honolulu. “If we saw a complete shutdown of fishing effort that would be devastating.”

Goto, in addition to running the Honolulu fish auction, is on the board of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, or Wespac, the quasi-governmental agency that oversees the fish stock from Hawaii to American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

He said it was important for the Honolulu fish auction to stay open to give fishermen an outlet to keep making money and ensure that local grocers could get food to the community.

Still, the longline fleet, which represents 90% of the commercial fish landings in Hawaii, is suffering, Goto said.

“Like most industries nobody is making any profit right now,” Goto said. “Everybody is just scraping through.”

Eric Kingma, who is the executive director of the Hawaii Longline Association and a former staffer at Wespac, did not respond to Civil Beat’s request for an interview.

Kingma told The Washington Post in April, however, that 100 of the 140 longline fishing vessels that target fish such as bigeye and yellowfin tuna, swordfish and mahi mahi, were tied up in port due to the lack of demand caused by the pandemic.

He said the numbers just didn’t make sense for longliners, especially when a trip out to sea can cost up to $45,000 — more than the landed value of fish at today’s cratered prices.

“It’s a complete disaster,” Kingma said, “a disaster that many vessels will not recover from.” …

read … Hawaii Fishermen Are Stuck In Port As Federal Aid Falls Short

The Madness Of Applying For Unemployment Insurance

CB: … I’ve been furloughed, and for over three weeks have been unsuccessful in opening an online account to file for unemployment, or so I thought. It turns out after hours and hours of calling the phone hotline and then struggling to get someone who could help me I was told I already have an account from over 30 years ago under my maiden name.

That is why I could not open an account — I already had one and had no idea.

Maybe I should have known I already had this account, but I don’t remember even filing for unemployment all those years ago. I didn’t file online — there was no public internet back then.

I am not yet out of the woods. I have to hope they can successfully change my account with all the updated, submitted documentation. I have to pray they can link my account to my claim; this part is crucial because everything needs to match up perfectly, be 100% correct…

read … The Madness Of Applying For Unemployment Insurance

The Regime has Spies Everywhere -- Hawaii residents keep eye out for visitors who break quarantine

SA: … The founder of a large Facebook group prohibited postings of quarantine-­breaker sightings, which led to other groups posting the sightings of visitors posting photos of themselves on social media posing on Hawaii beaches and elsewhere.

One such group, Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers, will meet today with the state Senate’s special committee regarding Hawaii’s COVID-19 plans and procedures, along with the attorney general, the state transportation director and the Honolulu police chief, Sen. Donna Kim announced Monday night.….

“Typically, travelers tend to post” photos on social media, he said.

And it appears that typically, that’s how they’re getting caught….

HNN: Social media proves a powerful tool in cracking down on quarantine violators

read … Hawaii residents keep eye out for visitors who break quarantine

Four More Criminals recently released from prison due to concerns about COVID-19 were re-arrested Sunday

KHON: … Honolulu police say four people recently released from prison due to concerns about COVID-19 were arrested again Sunday in the Mililani area.

According to police, witnesses observed a suspicious vehicle in the area and called police.

A check on the vehicle found, it was stolen….

read … Four people recently released from prison due to concerns about COVID-19 were arrested Sunday

Hawaii lawmakers question release of inmates amid pandemic

KITV: …More than 800 inmates have been released from Hawaii's jails and prisons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, the Hawaii Supreme Court mandated that the state release as many non-violent offenders as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus within prison walls.

Part of that reduction includes prosecutors not filing charges against low level offenders. It also includes inmates being released early.

At the state capitol Monday, lawmakers questioned if releasing inmates could increase the chances of COVID-19 being brought back into jails if those who are released early are re-arrested….

(Answer: That’s the goal.  Create an excuse for 100% release.)

read … Hawaii lawmakers question release of inmates amid pandemic

Hawaii’s Homeless Have Avoided COVID-19 — So Far

CB: … so far, only one homeless person here has tested positive for the virus.

And that man became infected not at a shelter but while he was at Maui Memorial Medical Center (on the homeless merry-go-round) being treated for an unrelated medical problem.  

The homeless patient was among the 53 people in a cluster at the Maui hospital, 39 health care workers and 14 patients — the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the state, believed to have been started by a single hospital employee who came to work sick….

Queen’s is where 70 percent of Oahu’s homeless population goes for hospital care.

When the hospital screened 680 homeless people to find out if they met the criteria to be tested for COVID-19, 59 were then tested and all were negative…

Dr. Scott Miscovich, a physician in private practice, tested 300 homeless on Hawaii Island and another 150 on Maui with zero positives.

Miscovich says the paucity of COVID-19 cases among the homeless is because many infections here to date have been travel related.

“This has been a disease of the affluent here,” he said. “What the cases had in common was money, wealth, the ability to travel. Or virus infections were related to work in hotels, bars, places travelers go.”…

One weird and unexpected circumstance was 17 (mainland homeless) tourist scofflaws with no place to stay who came to Hawaii despite the mandatory 14-day quarantine, and ended up being shuttled to a POST facility….

read … Hawaii’s Homeless Have Avoided COVID-19 — So Far

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