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Thursday, September 3, 2020
September 3, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:32 PM :: 2126 Views

COVID Count 211 new cases out of 6,291 tests

Quarantine raids find 100% Compliance at Two Waikiki Hotels

Security guard approached me and asked if I had any pants to put on

Basic Problems with All-Mail-in voting

Wave of Death in Hilo Because COVID Patients are being kept INSIDE Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home

HTH: More than half of the residents at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home have been infected by COVID-19.

Three additional staff members and 18 more residents tested positive for the virus, it was reported Wednesday, bringing the total case counts to 13 and 46, respectively.

There are about 80 residents at the facility.

The death of a fourth resident, who had underlying health issues, also was reported Wednesday.….  (UPDATE #1 -- 5 dead.  UPDATE #2 -- 6 dead.  UPDATE Sept 6, 2020: 7 dead  UPDATE Sept 7: 8 dead  UPDATE Sept 8: 9 dead  UPDATE Sept 9, 2020: 10 dead, UPDATE Sept 13, 2020: 12 dead, UPDATE Sept 14, 2020: 13 dead, UPDATE Sept 15, 2020: 14 dead.  UPDATE Sept 16, 2020: 15 dead, UPDATE Sept 17, 2020: 17 dead, UPDATE Sept 20, 2020: 24 dead)

The first COVID-19 cases were reported at the Hilo veterans home last week, and it is thought that the virus entered the facility through an asymptomatic staff member exposed in the community, the website states.

Residents and staff have undergone three rounds of testing so far, and a fourth round is set to take place today….

According to information provided by the hospital, no Yukio Okutsu residents were hospitalized at HMC as of Wednesday afternoon, and 41 residents are currently being cared for in a COVID-designated area at the veterans home.

(This is why COVID is spreading at Okutsu.  Because COVID patients are not physically removed from the nursing home.  A “COVID-designated area” just doesn’t cut it.)

Eight patients not related to the veterans home outbreak remained hospitalized at HMC on Wednesday, including two in intensive care and six in its COVID-19 unit.

Also Wednesday, four hospital staff members from various departments notified the administration that they tested positive for COVID-19. Those employees are quarantining at home.

HMC spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said the employees were tested in the community, not as part of the hospital’s random surveillance testing…. 

read … COVID + Nursing Home = Disaster

Expert hired to fix overwhelmed contact tracing program at DOH asks for leave

CB: … Just two weeks after being announced as the new leader of Hawaii’s contact tracing program — considered critical to helping control the spread of the coronavirus — Emily Roberson has asked for a leave of absence until chain of command issues can be sorted out.

“It is clear that there is significant confusion regarding whose authority and which directives I should be following with regards to COVID-19 contact tracing in Hawaii,” Roberson wrote in an email, sent Wednesday to Danette Tomiyasu, a deputy director of the Department of Health. ”These issues need to be worked out by DOH leadership before I can effectively perform my job duties.”

people who work with DOH have said recently that State Epidemiologist Sarah Park continues to try to lead the contact tracing effort despite the governor announcing on Aug. 19 that Park would no longer be involved and that Roberson was taking over.

Ige said Roberson would report directly to Tomiyasu.

The criticisms of Park have become so fervent that some employees have mounted a show of support by creating campaign-style buttons bearing Park’s likeness and the slogan “We With Sarah!” as well as a matching poster signed with inspirational messages….

read … Expert hired to fix overwhelmed contact tracing program at DOH asks for leave

HGEA Members Priority at DoH: ‘We With Sarah!’ -- Defend Embattled Epidemiologist

CB: … it seems Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist who heads the Department of Health’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, is so beloved by some DOH employees that they’ve started a campaign to stand behind her – complete with campaign-style buttons bearing a likeness of Park and the catchy slogan: “We With Sarah!”

There’s also a matching poster supporters have signed, adding handwritten notes like, “Sarah, You’re a diamond. They can’t break u!”

It’s a sharp contrast to a growing number of politicians, health professionals and residents who are decidedly “Not With Sarah!”

Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki was the latest to weigh in on Wednesday, saying: “The governor needs to remove Sarah Park immediately; otherwise, the situation will not be salvageable. The future of Hawaii requires decisive action by the governor now.”

Saiki’s view joined that of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard who has been calling for Park’s removal for weeks….

read … ‘We With Sarah!’ Co-Workers Defend Embattled Epidemiologist

Experts: State’s confusing COVID-19 reporting makes it difficult to track spread of virus

HNN: …Data that doesn’t match, moving averages that don’t make sense — the state’s reporting of COVID-19 is confusing even for scholars analyzing the information….

The confusion starts with the number of tests completed since the pandemic began.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency reported Wednesday that 207,406 tests were conducted.

But the state Department of Health had a conflicting report, saying that 275,704 tests were performed — a difference of more than 68,000 tests….

The Health Department also provides a seven-day moving average — reported at 4.6% on Wednesday.

But that doesn’t make sense when you look at the last week of infection rates. Only one recent day was below 5%, and there were two double digit days. Again, there’s no clear explanation from the state….

He added the state should just report the daily number of positives, negatives, inconclusive test results and then provide the daily batch….

“Good, clear information to the public is the best possible thing that you can give them. Don’t treat them like they won’t be able to understand,”…

read … Experts: State’s confusing COVID-19 reporting makes it difficult to track spread of virus

Kupuna advocacy group threatens Health Department with legal action over Hawaii contact tracing

SA: … A group that advocates for senior citizens has begun legal action to increase the number of contact tracers in Hawaii and to require the Department of Health to provide translation services.

The Kokua Council for Senior Citizens sent a demand letter Wednesday to the state Department of Health director Bruce Anderson threatening further legal action if he doesn’t furnish information that the state’s contract tracing program is meeting its legal obligations by 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The letter, penned by attorney Lance Collins, says “the state has a legal obligation to provide contact tracing and relevant health information in minority languages to limited English-proficient individuals at the levels established by statute. From the available information to Kokua Council, the state has failed to act contrary to its legal obligation to do so.”…

read … Kupuna advocacy group threatens Health Department with legal action over Hawaii contact tracing

State pledges to launch ’virtual call center’ to field questions about jobless benefits

HNN: … “We know it’s difficult to get through those lines because ... current staff is inundated with processing claims,” said Anne Perreira-Eustaquio, acting director of the state Labor Department.

For the past month, unemployed callers have had to endure long waits after the Labor Department shut down its phone bank at the Hawaii Convention Center.

The phone bank at its peak had hundreds of volunteers answering calls, but those calls have since been redirected to the Labor Department’s downtown office.

“I’ve called hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times and never getting through,” said unemployed Uber and Lyft driver Diana Choy, who filed for the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in April.

Choy said she was cut off in June after the Labor Department asked her to re-verify her personal information as part of a crackdown on fraud.

Even though she did, she said the state didn’t restore her benefits.

She said she’s now owed more than $11,000.

“The communications part is the part what really really frustrates me. There’s none, zero communication from them. That tells me there’s a big lack of leadership there,” she said.

Local dive instructor Kimberly Jeffries has experienced similar frustrations. Her PUA benefits were cut off in June when she moved and updated her address with the state.

“It’s super frustrating ... they’ve had six months to figure this out,” said Jeffries, who’s owed about $7,000….

Labor Department said it’s in the process of hiring a contractor to operate the call center. It said there are more than 15,000 PUA applicants whose claims are still going through the verification process….

read … State pledges to launch ’virtual call center’ to field questions about jobless benefits

Big Island COVID Cases Swell

KHON: … Another 35 COVID-19 cases were recorded on Sept 2. on Hawaii Island, pushing the total Hawaii County number to 418 — the majority of them in the last two weeks alone.

Hawaii Island Senator Lorraine Inouye said more needs to be done.

“People are dying…I’m not happy. I’m very disappointed with those folks that just disregard any of the regulations. It’s not healthy.”

Inouye said she wants much more enforcement at problem areas and beach parks known for gatherings like Hapuna, Kalapana, Milolii and Spencer Park.

Mayor Harry Kim said the Hawaii Police Department has been stepping up enforcement in the last week. Kim also updated his emergency order, closing beaches to any types of gatherings–preventing tents, BBQ’s and other group events starting Sept. 4 through Sept. 19.

Meanwhile, the death toll on Hawaii Island is also on the rise– another veteran dying at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. It’s the fourth fatality there this week.

The cluster within the Veterans Home also increased, with 18 more residents and two more employees testing positive. The cluster there stands at 46 residents and 12 employees.

Kaimi Kaupiko, a resident of Milolii fishing village, said a cluster of cases is developing in his small town with seven people testing positive so far.

“Right now we’re kind of having an emergency with a lot of our families are getting tested to see if they have COVID-19. We’ve been prepared for a long time but unfortunately this pandemic has reached our community,” explained Kaupiko.

Kaupiko said he and several of his family members got tested on Sept. 2. He said the cluster may be linked to a birthday party that took place on Aug. 22.

He said there were about 40 people when he got there and it was mostly family and friends that were present. He said the entire community had been so good the past four to five months, they didn’t think anything would happen.

“This is something we’re going to have to learn from. Each person has to really think about their choices. And I’m really upset at myself but trying to see the bigger picture of what going on,” Kaupiko said….

HTH: Lawmakers ask mayor to close Milolii Fishing Village, test everybody because of virus

Related: “People are almost rebelling” against emergency measures—and Kai Kahele is in the middle of it

read … A new cluster in a Big Island fishing village raises concern while the death toll and case count continue to rise

Public Utilities Commission Addresses Hacked Emails Alleging Support for Hu Honua

IM: … I just wanted to reply and confirm that I did not contact your organization, there must be a mistake or a mix-up of email address.”

“It looks like my email address was hacked to send in comments regarding the docket referenced below. I did not write or send the comments that your refer to. I am not a resident of Hawaii. I know nothing about this docket. Please do not include these comments, my name, or my contact information in any public records”.

“I did NOT post or send any comment regarding this matter prior to this singular email. It would appear that someone fraudulently used or otherwise "spoofed" my email address. While I am a strong supporter of renewable energy, I am NOT a resident of Hawaii and thus have no say in this matter. Please remove any comment that has the email address of " " - as previously stated I am not a resident of Hawaii, and thus have no say in this matter.”

“Please be advised that my email was used without permission or authorization by someone attempting to utilize my email for their own personal agenda. Please disregard any email (see below) that was sent via my account as it was not from me. YOU DO NOT have my permission to use my name or my email address for any public or political use. I am not a Hawaii resident nor do I support your movement as I am completely unaware of it to start with. Thank you.” …

read … Public Utilities Commission Addresses Hacked Emails Alleging Support for Hu Honua

Pandering to Anti 5-G Nuts – Hawaii Co Council seeks scrutiny of FCC permits

WHT: … The Hawaii County Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday supporting the Natural Resources Defense Council and other elected officials who have petitioned in federal court for stricter environmental review before the Federal Communications Commission approves wireless communication facilities and other sources of radiofrequency emissions.

Resolution 714 doesn’t require the county to enter the federal lawsuit but simply states council support of those seeking stricter standards….

South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David, who co-sponsored the resolution with Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder, said the public has demonstrated concerns about the technology, and the council needs to make a statement.

“We want to make sure the safety and health of the community will be considered, especially in this day and age when technology is going crazy,” David said.

Scores of testifiers came out in July to support a previous nonbinding resolution calling for telecommunication companies and public utilities operating in the county to halt 5G development until independent research and testing concludes it is safe for humans.

Many testifiers, and subsequent writers of letters to the editors of the island newspapers, didn’t seem to understand the resolution that passed 8-1 was merely a statement of position by the council and had no authority to require anything of the telecommunications companies….

read … Council seeks scrutiny of FCC permits: Nonbinding resolution supports safety regulations of wireless facilities

Miske in perspective

ILind: … He has had perhaps the longest and most lucrative run of any crime boss in Hawaii history. And I knew them all! Some of them pretty well. None of them I knew had anywhere near the accumulated wealth or influence or longevity ….

read … Miske in perspective

Corruption sentencing hearings for Katherine and Louis Kealoha rescheduled to Nov 30

SA: … Sentencing has been rescheduled again in Hawaii’s biggest corruption case after it was previously postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

A U.S. judge today set a Nov. 30 sentencing date for retired Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his now-estranged wife, Katherine Kealoha, who was a former high-ranking city prosecutor.

A jury convicted them last year of conspiracy in a plot to frame a relative to keep him from revealing fraud that financed their lavish lifestyle.

Sentencing hearings for the couple had been originally scheduled for March.

Last week, a judge approved a Nov. 3 sentencing date. Lawyers involved in the case say the date needed to be changed because that’s Election Day.

Two former officers convicted with the Kealohas are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.

read … Corruption sentencing hearings for Katherine and Louis Kealoha rescheduled again

Kaua'i councilman's meth ring trial postponed to next year

KHON: … Trial was originally scheduled for October for Arthur Brun, an elected member of the Kauai County Council, and 11 co-defendants. Prosecutors say Brun supplied guns, conspired with a gang leader, requested sexual favors as payment for drugs and assaulted a law enforcement officer.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter said the trial needs to be postponed partly because of constraints on jury trials during the coronavirus pandemic and because federal prosecutors are asking that the case be declared complex.

He tentatively set a new date for Feb. 1….

lawyer, Rustam Barbee, said Brun opposes postponement because he’s being held in the Honolulu Federal Detention Center….

AP: Kauai councilman’s meth ring trial postponed to next year

read … Kaua'i councilman's meth ring trial postponed to next year

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