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Wednesday, September 1, 2021
September 1, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:49 PM :: 2249 Views

State Announces End of All Federal Unemployment & Assistance Programs

Rep Okimoto: Vaccine passport will increase spread among unvaccinated

HTA Publishes Three Year Plan to Reduce Tourism

Hawaii Catholic Diocese not giving religious exemptions for COVID vaccines

Neighbor Island Mayors Skeptical of Vaccine Passport

KHON: … Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said he is trying to do what’s best for his community and isn’t sure a vaccination passport is it.

“We are assessing the situation from all different angles,” Roth said. “How it looks for us as far as people in their jobs, Will this cause people to lose their jobs? We don’t have the ability in the past to get unemployment, PPE, the things that the government had last year. Will this actually make a difference and get those extra people vaccinated and bring down those counts at our hospitals? Does that separate our community more or does it bring them together? Really we’re trying to bring people together to do the right thing.”

But he said it is a possibility if things don’t improve.

Kauai has the lowest positivity rate at 5.1%. But before implementing any type of vaccination passport, Mayor Derek Kawakami wants to see how things go in Honolulu first.

“We’re going to see how the businesses and the customers are responding to it,” Kawakami explained. “We’re also going to see if it does anything to shave off the case counts. When government has to intervene and throw restrictions in front of a community. There’s a lot of pain involved in that. And there are a lot of consequences that come at a cost.”

But, he too is ready to pivot if things get worse.

The positivity rate on Maui is currently 6.6%, the second lowest in the state.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is still very concerned. He said both a 72-hour stay-at-home order for Labor Day weekend and a vaccination passport are on the table for Maui County.

“We are in the process of setting down some changes that we have instituted recommendations that we got from the Department of Health and others for some restrictions that will be in line with what is happening in our community right now,” Victorino said….  

SA Editorial: Safe Access calls for cooperation

SA: Honolulu Council urges more COVID-19 prevention steps, including reinstating pre-travel testing

read … Neighbor islands could see a vaccination passport program if case counts don’t improve

Union Fail: State Worker Salaries Climb Slower than Private Sector

CB: … There were about 48,600 state workers when fiscal year 2022 began July 1, according to employee salary information provided to Civil Beat by government agencies. That total was about 49,000 for fiscal year 2011, and it has hovered around 50,000 for the years in between.

But the salaries paid to Hawaii’s educators, correctional officers, legislators and other state workers have risen steadily over much of the same period….

The wide salary ranges that departments provided for many employees complicate any assessment, but if everyone was paid at the low end of the ranges, state salaries would have risen 28% since the 2011 fiscal year. Put all workers at the high end of the ranges, and pay would have increased 27%.

Those figures are similar to the 30.9% growth in per capita personal income among all Hawaii residents from 2010 to 2020, according to the Federal Reserve Economic Database….

-- Schoolteachers: There were practically the same number of full-time public schoolteachers in the 2022 fiscal year (7,905) as in the 2011 fiscal year (7,897), according to Department of Education records.

The range of teacher salaries varied greatly, based on factors such as experience and training. The low end was $32,717 in 2011 and is $38,521 now. The high end was $79,170 in 2011 and $93,225 now.

In both cases that represents a 15% increase in the ranges…

— Correctional officers: Hawaii’s correctional officers numbered 1,032 as of July 1 compared to 1,129 in fiscal year 2011.

The low end of the range for that job was $41,040 in 2011 and is $56,612 now, an increase of 27%. The high end was $64,572 in 2011 and is $78,984 now, an increase of 18%.

— Office assistants in the Department of Transportation: There were 69 such assistants as of July 1, and 65 in fiscal year 2011.

The low end of the range for those positions was $25,668 in 2011 and is $33,120 now, an increase of 22.5%. The high end was $42,684 in 2011 and is $52,044 now, an increase of almost 18%….

(Translation: Public employees would be better off without unions.)

read … State Worker Salaries Have Climbed In The Past Decade

Here’s How Honolulu Plans To Spend $386 Million In Federal Covid Relief Funds

CB: … The city’s spending plan included $15 million for expanded Covid testing and other services as well as $10 million for vaccine incentives.

A crisis outreach response and engagement program that sends social workers to emergency calls got $3 million. Other community support services that provide language translation and assist individuals and their families in accessing state quarantine and isolation facilities, food, housing and other needs will receive $500,000.

Other notable expenditures are for city operations, such as $1.5 million for the Department of Planning and Permitting to investigate and reduce illegal vacation rentals and another $1.5 million to fund better enforcement of city park regulations.

and the rest is for …uh… overhead ….

SA Editorial: More hard times for Hawaii’s economy

read … Here’s How Honolulu Plans To Spend $386 Million In Federal Covid Relief Funds

Hawaii hotels are beginning to see mounting cancellations as COVID surge continues

HNN: … “We’re seeing cancellations, loss of revenues. It’s not just confined to hotels. We’re hearing it from other tourism-related businesses: attractions, restaurants, retail,” said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

“The bottom line is we are hurting. We are seeing losses.”

Hawaii’s hotel industry lost thousands of jobs during the pandemic. If the cancellations continue, some experts worry that more jobs will be lost.

“Right now, no question, September and October will be very bad, and my concern is we’re going to put people back out of work. We’re going to hurt our economy,” said Keith Vieira, of KV & Associates Hospitality Consulting.

Hawaii News Now has learned that one upscale hotel operator recently decided to lay off about a dozen workers due to the slowdown…. 

HNN: In wake of governor’s plea for visitors to stay away, travel agents see more cancellations

HN: 67% of Business Travelers to Reduce Trips Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

read … Hawaii hotels are beginning to see mounting cancellations as COVID surge continues

Judge delays hearing on suit against vaccine mandate for state and county workers

HNN: … A federal judge has delayed indefinitely a hearing on a lawsuit against the vaccinate-or-test mandate for state and county workers.

The hearing on whether to block the requirements was scheduled for Sept. 8.

But attorneys for vaccine-resistant first responders dropped an unexpected new filing Friday.

The judge said the new arguments and information violated his orders and should be stricken, but instead he accepted the documents and gave the state until Sept. 20 to respond.

The judge said the new temporary restraining order hearing won’t’ be scheduled until after that. …

Background: Union Lawsuit Compares COVID Vaccine to Nazi Experiments

read … Judge delays hearing on suit against vaccine mandate for state and county workers

All of us should push back against Antivaxxers’ hatred

SA: … The flyers that a group designed with the word “FRAUD” below Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s face (“Lt. Gov. Josh Green target of hate campaign,” Star-Advertiser, Aug. 26) seemed to be directed at Green as an individual, motivated by his support for COVID-19 vaccination and other public health policies. But when the same flyers were later posted in Honolulu with the word “JEW” added, the message of the flyers was that his Jewishness is somehow linked to his supposed status as a fraud and his advocacy for certain COVID-related policies. Put simply, these signs were no longer a condemnation of Josh Green specifically, but an attack on all Jewish people. That attack was baseless and hateful, and is dangerous not only to Hawaii’s Jewish community but also the broader Hawaii community and beyond…. 

CB: Hawaii's People Must Be As One In Opposition To Anti-Semitism

read … All of us should push back against hatred

Hilo Medical Center at 120% capacity amid COVID-19 surge

SA: … The largest hospital on the Big Island of Hawaii was operating at about 120% of capacity amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, straining employees and supplies.

Hilo Medical Center had 38 patients with coronavirus, including 10 in the intensive care unit, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported today.

Altogether the hospital had 17 ICU Patients, far beyond its normal 11-bed ICU capacity. Some ICU patients were being treated in the progressive care unit….

Two dozen traveling nurses have arrived to help, but the vast majority of the work has been assumed by hospital staff, said Dan Brinkman, the East Hawaii Regional CEO for Hawaii Health Systems Corp.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases on the Big Island soared from 2.7 on July 4 to 138 today. Sixty percent of the population has been fully vaccinated….

read … Hilo Medical Center at 120% capacity amid COVID-19 surge

‘I was so close’: Pregnant Hawaii mother who nearly died of COVID urges others to get vaccinated

HNN: … Trina Emond, 32, said it all started with a stuffy nose but quickly went downhill.

The mother of three, who is seven months pregnant, said she’s talking about her ordeal so that those who still haven’t gotten the vaccine talk to their doctors and get the shot.

“Right now, my breathing isn’t too good,” Emond said, in a recent interview with Hawaii News Now.

She battled COVID first in the ICU at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children and then in intensive care at the Queen’s Medical Center.

“I feel like all here is on fire,” she said, pointing to her face.

Emond says she feared death.

“You are sitting there not knowing if you are going to die alone and that’s a fact. I thought I was going to die almost every day I was in there,” she said.

But Emond kept fighting ― for her unborn baby boy named Truce and three children.

“At one point I was seeing people being wheeled past my room being intubated with ventilators going down their throat,” she said. “That’s my biggest fear, man they might put me on that.”

She signed legal documents giving doctors permission to intubate her and to perform a C-section to save the baby if necessary.

“I couldn’t sleep. It was hard thinking that I was going to be put under and not being able to ever see my kids again,” said Emond.

read … ‘I was so close’: Pregnant Hawaii mother who nearly died of COVID urges others to get vaccinated

People with no underlying conditions make up 3% of Hawaii’s COVID deaths

HNN: … The CDC says 6% of the nation’s COVID deaths were individuals with no other health problems.

New data shows Hawaii actually has fewer healthy people dying compared to the rest of the country.

Of the 589 COVID patients who have died in the islands, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii confirms about 17 people had no underlying conditions….

A total of 432 COVID patients are currently in the hospital statewide. That’s up by 14 from the previous day and another all-time high.

“Looking at the numbers, 87.5% of those individuals are unvaccinated,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Green said that hospitals are teetering on the edge of disaster, and he reiterated that if the patient count hits 500 he’ll call for “life-preserving restrictions.” …

read … People with no underlying conditions make up 3% of Hawaii’s COVID deaths

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services receive record number of 911 calls during COVID-19 pandemic this month

KITV: … As COVID-19 numbers across the state continue to rise, Honolulu Emergency Medical Services is receiving a record number of 911 calls. Many paramedics and EMTs told KITV4 they're tired and stressed.

Besides COVID-19 related issues, they're also responding to trauma, traffic and medical calls. That workload is overwhelming the men and women on the job.

21 ambulances service the entire island. Crews work at least 12 hours per shift and the calls just keep coming. Data from the department shows the number of calls for EMS set a new record in August this year….

"Every day I'm picking up COVID people," Casey Nichols, a Honolulu EMS paramedic, said.

"The average is usually 2-3 COVID calls per shift," Cameron Hara, a Honolulu EMS EMT, said.

Crews report many patients are unvaccinated against COVID-19.

"A lot of it is misinformation, a lot of it is either they heard somebody or a friend say something about it and that's what turns them off about the vaccine. In turn, it turns off the whole family to the vaccine," Paul Barraza, a Honolulu EMS paramedic, said.

"We're seeing a lot of families, a lot of kids," Hara said. …

Lee says they need help from other first responders such as American Medical Response or federal firefighters.

"You can expect definitely delayed response times for us," he said.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, EMS crews around the island responded to at least 15 COVID-19 positive patients. They range in age from as young as 35-years-old to many people in their 40s and 50s. …

read … Honolulu Emergency Medical Services receive record number of 911 calls during COVID-19 pandemic this month

Honolulu Mayor Wants Aggressive Crackdown on TVRs

CB: … Mayor Rick Blangiardi wants to hold on to that feeling and is proposing what he calls an aggressive crackdown on the industry.

“Our plan here, and what we’re going to do, is to shut that business down,” the mayor said at a press conference last week. “We feel this is absolutely critical for our communities, so we’re not feeling overrun. This is about the city’s efforts to manage tourism while at the same time address housing needs.” …

read … Honolulu Airbnbs Shut Down When The Pandemic Began. The Mayor Wants To Keep It That Way

As COVID cases climb, parents and teachers call for more distance learning options

HNN: … The Hawaii Department of Education says 50 students are currently on a distance learning wait list. By September 7, they hope that wait list will clear, but some schools say the demand will continue to grow amid the surge in COVID cases.

“They want to keep their kids home,” said Glen Iwamoto, Waimalu Elementary School principal. “They’re looking for options other then sending them to school or keeping them at home and sending them packets of work to do.”

The DOE’s statewide distance learning program currently includes 600 students. Teachers say with spots filling up, they’re left to catch the overflow of requests.

“At this point, we are still told it’s face to face, which means that we make those accommodations for our students that are at home for a variety of reasons,” said Vickie Parker Kam, Ilima Elementary School teacher. “So not having clear guidelines in the beginning does make it more challenging for everyone, students included.”…

read … As COVID cases climb, parents and teachers call for more distance learning options

Hawaii traffic-related fatalities continue to surpass those from 2020

SA: … The state has tallied 60 traffic-related fatalities in the first eight months of this year, surpassing numbers from the same time in 2020 as an upward trend continues.

Of the 60 fatalities from Jan. 1 to Monday, 21 involved motor vehicle occupants; 16 involved pedestrians; 22 involved motorcycles, mopeds and scooters; and one involved a bicyclist, according to preliminary statistics from the state Department of Transportation.

The total is three more than the same time in 2020, when pandemic-related lockdowns were in place. Most of them, 34, occurred on Oahu, while none so far have occurred on Kauai….

Ed Sniffen, HDOT deputy director for highways, said more people are on the road compared with 2020, and more have been speeding.

“We’re seeing volumes coming back throughout most of our roads,” he said. “We’re still 3% to 5% lower than pre-pandemic levels on a couple routes and 10% to 12% lower on others, but in general we’re back. We’re also seeing morning and afternoon peaks reaching those pre-pandemic levels.”

Speeding has been a problem since the early days of the pandemic, in Hawaii as well as on the mainland, and has not subsided….

read … Hawaii traffic-related fatalities continue to surpass those from 2020

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