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Friday, November 20, 2020
November 20, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:39 PM :: 745 Views

Ige: "All persons in the State shall wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in public." 

Ige "COVID-19 testing results must be in hand prior to departure"

Hawaii's Fake Green Energy Initiative: After 15 years, Petroleum Dependence Drops only 6%

And the hits just keep on coming!

Resources: Unemployment Running Out?

Acellus: Opposition Movement Could Cost Hawaii Schools $272 Million

COVID News: DoE Finally Achieves Goal of Eliminating All Standardized Testing

UH to Continue Online for Spring Semester

Hawaii Ranks 42nd in the Nation in Highway Performance and Cost-Effectiveness

Oceanfront Property Tied to Obama Granted Exemption From Hawaii’s Environmental Laws

VIDEO: USS John Finn Takes Out ICBM in Test off Hawaii

DBEDT Releases Hawai‘i Broadband Strategic Plan

October: Hawaii highest unemployment in USA, 14.3%

The Forever Rail

ILind: … I remember the 1970s sci-fi book, The Forever War.

That’s the phrase brought to mind by the city’s latest guestimate of what it will cost in time and dollars to get through the rail quagmire. The city’s latest figures–an $11 billion price tag, and 2033 completion date, are simply staggering. And it’s just a guess, it seems. No hard money figures involved. And lots of reasons for skepticism. By the year 2033, there will be a generation of 30-somethings who will have spent their entire lives in the physical and economic shadow of Honolulu’s rail system.

Compare the cost and timeline to the Wikipedia list of the most expensive U.S. public works projects. Hey, we’re right up there with the big boys, and nowhere near getting the final bill yet. And that’s just on raw dollars, not converted to per capita or per mile cost to reflect the modest size of the planned system and our small population base.

It’s looking like we’ll never get a chance to wear the new off this rail system. By the time it is finished, if that ever happens, some of its rarely-used components will be so old they’ll be ready for replacement, including the rail cars and some parts of the rail line itself….

PBN: Caldwell raises final leg of rail cost estimate to $2.5B, requests one-year planning extension

read … The Forever Rail

Budget Battle 2021: DOE Chief Outlines Plan to Make $100M Cut look as Bad as Possible

CB: … Hawaii’s top education official warned Thursday of program cuts or consolidations and potential staffing reductions or position freezes as the education department stares at a $100 million budget reduction triggered by the pandemic.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, addressing the state Board of Education at its monthly meeting, said the reduction to the DOE’s $2.1 billion budget will be “decimating” to core programs and puts “extraordinary” pressure on education officials to deliver quality education in these leaner times.

While DOE leaders didn’t have a specific plan to present to the board as far as what exactly — or whom — might be on the chopping block, Kishimoto said the next several weeks will be “critical” as far as conversations with senior leadership go in determining priority areas….

According to a memo submitted to the board, the DOE identified six possible routes to meet the $100 million shortfall: permanent program eliminations or consolidations; replacement practices; reprioritization of programs; temporary eliminations of essential programs; staffing reductions or position freezes; or other areas for “government efficiencies.”

Kishimoto was slightly more specific at the meeting, saying the DOE will also look at trimming external contracts, while prioritizing “major projects” like an e-learning system, financial management replacement system and safety and security spending.

In an attachment to that memo, the DOE said it could potentially be facing anywhere from a 10% to 20% reduction to its overall budget starting in the 2022 fiscal year, which amounts to $165 million to $330 million.

The department said it had been asked to propose budget adjustments of 10%, 15% and 20% for fiscal years 2022 and 2023 in the midst of a severe economic crisis brought on by the pandemic….

What This is About: Washington Monument Gambit

More: The Seven Rules of Bureaucracy

read … DOE Chief: $100M Budget Reduction Could Be ‘Decimating’

Budget Battle 2021: Honolulu City Departments Plan to Make their part of $400M in Cuts look as Bad as Possible

CB: … Honolulu expenses ranging from veterinarian visits for police dogs to initiatives addressing homelessness and climate change are on the chopping block as the city grapples with a massive budget shortfall, according to city records. 

Each department was tasked with proposing cuts of 5% to 10% of their operating budgets for the current fiscal year, which ends in June. Civil Beat received a spreadsheet of the proposals through a public records request. 

While the cuts represented in the proposals are not a done deal, they illustrate the options the city is considering to handle the major impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on city revenues….

read … City Is ‘Looking At Everything’ To Avoid Layoffs Or Pay Cuts

Nearly 187K visitors have arrived in Hawai'i since launch of Safe Travels program

KITV: … To date:

273,020 passengers have been screened (including inter-island, Japan, and trans-pacific travelers) 

243,140 exemptions from quarantine given (negative test from a trusted travel partner, or state exemption)

7,217 passengers in quarantine (non-trusted travel partner or incorrect type of test)  

186,969 arriving visitors

86,051 arriving residents

A month into the surveillance testing program, which started on October 19, there were 27 positive cases out of 17,720 post-travel tests administered….

read … Nearly 187K visitors have arrived in Hawai'i since launch of Safe Travels program

COVID-positive pre-arrival results are a blind spot for Hawaii travel program

KHON: The state tells Always Investigating they can’t make their trusted testing partners tell them which out-of-state travelers came up positive on a pre-arrival test. Only a few dozen people have self-reported positives since the Safe Travels program began last month….

In just the four weeks since the Safe Travels pre-arrival test option began, tiny Kauai has already seen nine locals and visitors come up positive for COVID-19 on the test the traveler hoped would get them out of quarantine. Instead, they went into isolation….

Kauai’s nine comes out to about one positive every few days of the program so far, just for the Garden Island. KHON2 wanted to know, what are the numbers statewide for pre-travel test results coming back positive after landing? State and county departments pointed us in several different directions, before the Department of Health revealed it’s more than 40.

“But these are only the people who have uploaded their positive results,” a state spokesperson told KHON2….

As a Result: Hawaii visitors with pending coronavirus test results will no longer have chance to bypass quarantine

KHON: Kauai counting new group of cases not identified by state

Related: Hawai'i Tourism Reopening Strategy: Make COVID Positivity Numbers Look Good

read … COVID-positive pre-arrival results are a blind spot for Hawaii travel program

Vast Majority of COVID Surveillance tests on Big Island

SA: … Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the state’s surveillance testing program is leaning too heavily on Hawaii island data and falling short of its goal to randomly test 10% of arriving visitors four days after arrival.

Since the program began, the number of travelers arriving in the state has jumped to thousands per day, up from only a few hundred per day. The vast majority of those travelers are coming to Oahu.

“We’ve relied on the promises made and took risks, and that risk now is greater because of the number of cases on the continent and the raging wildfire of COVID-19 and the positivity rate of over 10% compared to ours below 3%,” Caldwell said….

Green, who spoke during a media briefing with Ige on Thursday, acknowledged that the bulk of the surveillance tests — some 15,931 out of 17,270 — have come from Hawaii island and were provided as part of Mayor Harry Kim’s mandatory post-arrival test.

So far, Green said, 616 surveillance tests have been conducted on Oahu, 392 on Maui and 331 on Kauai….

SA: Mayor Kirk Caldwell urges travelers to use airport lab

read … Mayor Kirk Caldwell questions the validity of the state’s traveler surveillance testing program; Lt. Gov. Green defends it

Here’s Why The Health Department Says It Takes 36 Hours To Post COVID-19 Case Numbers

CB: … Increased demands for public information and not enough people to process data are among the reasons for a 36 hour lag in reporting new COVID-19 cases in Hawaii, health officials say.

The Hawaii Department of Health receives reports of positive COVID-19 test results on a rolling basis through the state’s electronic laboratory reporting system.

But the data verification process involves sifting through 4,000 to 5,000 test results daily, identifying and deleting duplicate tests and checking for other reporting errors, according to Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the health department. Once the data is scrubbed, the state’s data team sends reports to county district health offices and other agencies such as the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

“When we started this back in March there were much fewer cases but staff had to start their day early in the morning to do that,” Okubo said. “With the increase in cases we just have to make adjustments so our staff is able to handle this kind of workload in addition to all of the other data products that we put out for the public.” ….

read … Excuses

11 Honolulu police officers tested positive for COVID-19 after station outbreak

HNN: … Eleven Honolulu police officers tested positive for COVID-19 following an outbreak at the Wahiawa police station earlier this month.

The Honolulu Police Department said in a statement Thursday that nine officers have returned to work.

One officer, BJ Miralles, is hospitalized in intensive care….

read … 11 Honolulu police officers tested positive for COVID-19 after station outbreak

Analysis: Asians in Hawaii more likely to die of COVID-19 than other ethnic groups

HNN: … New research shows those of Japanese and Chinese descent die of COVID-19 more than any other ethnic group in Hawaii ― despite much lower infection rates.

… Pacific Islanders ― made up of Micronesians, Samoans and Tongans ― once accounted for nearly 40% of the infections in Hawaii.  The numbers dropped in September but then climbed again recently to 29%. That group makes up just 4% of the state’s total population….

CB: Hawaii Pacific Islanders Are Twice As Likely To Be Hospitalized For COVID-19

read … Analysis: Asians in Hawaii more likely to die of COVID-19 than other ethnic groups

Vigilantes block visitors from Big Island’s Waipio Valley

HNN: … The first incident, involving about 30 demonstrators, blocked the roadway on Tuesday to prevent people from heading into the valley.

Police eventually arrived, and after some tense moments, the encounter ended peacefully….

“The call on Tuesday was to bring forth people that are frustrated that want something done as far as access into the valley, not specifically just tourists, but just outside traffic,” said Darde Gamayo, a community advocate. “People that don’t have a kuleana in Waipio Valley.”….

The Hawaii County Council is considering a bill that would essentially ban foot traffic going down the road into Waipio Valley. Exemptions would be made for residents and cultural practices….

read … Citing COVID-19 concerns, activists try to block visitors from Big Island’s Waipio Valley

Report: Many Homeless are Drug Addicts—50% Refuse Shelter

HPR: … A report released in July shows nearly half of O'ahu's homeless who are reached by social service providers are successfully rehoused. The study shows continuous churn on the streets of Honolulu, but one segment of the population is consistently overrepresented.

The report, Unsheltered in Honolulu, is based on four years of homeless data provided by the Point in Time counts between 2017 and 2020.

Ten thousand individuals were matched with their service history in the state system. Lead author Anna Pruitt says what jumps out is the disparity among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. They are  23% of the general population, but 54% of the unsheltered in Honolulu county.

"That's a huge disparity and when you look at just Native Hawaiians, you see a disparity there as well. Forty one percent of unsheltered are Native Hawaiian, compared to about 19% of Honolulu county," said Pruitt.

The co-author of Unsheltered in Honolulu, Jack Barile, noted about a third of Oahu's homeless were found to have mental disabilities, physical disabilities, a drug addiction, or combinations of the three.  Barile says (with a straight face) those conditions do not necessarily cause their lack of shelter….

Related: Statewide PIT Count: Oahu Homeless Numbers Nearly Unchanged from 2019

read … Report: Native Hawaiians Overrepresented Among Unsheltered

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