Thursday, April 23, 2020

Hawaii mulls reopening state, unemployment comp system a nightmare, wayward tourists sent home, Maui IDs COVID-19 grouping at upscale restaurant, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Labor Director Scott Murikami and Gov. David Ige  talk about state's unemployment system April 22, 2020
State is well-positioned to relax restrictions, health director says. After nearly a month of stay-at-home orders and quarantine to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, it is becoming clear that Hawaii communities are relatively free of COVID-19, and policymakers are considering the first steps to carefully begin to reopen the state, state Health Director Bruce Anderson said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

DOH discusses state’s reopening at COVID-19 senate committee hearing. At Wednesday’s special senate committee hearing, Dr. Bruce Anderson said more COVID-19 tests are needed, as well as increased contact tracing and personal protective equipment for medical providers before Hawaii should begin opening larger sections. KHON2.

‘What Was It All For?’: Divide Grows Over Hawaii’s Lockdown. Some protesters, small business owners and others chafe at the continued restrictions, but many worry about lifting those too early. Civil Beat.

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State says antiquated system to blame for unemployment claims backlog. Delays have left some unemployed workers waiting four weeks or more to get their benefits. Hawaii News Now.

Manpower Shortage, Hacking Compound Problems With Unemployment Claims Processing. Officials Wednesday continued to blame an antiquated computer system for the plodding process of filing for and receiving unemployment insurance in Hawai‘i, an issue they said was slated to be updated this summer. Big Island Now.

At least 700 state workers volunteer to tackle unemployment backlog. The first wave of about 200 state worker volunteers began tackling Hawaii’s massive backlog of unemployment claims. House Speaker Scott Saiki said a second shift will be added next week that could double the number of people processing claims. Hawaii News Now.

State volunteers begin processing unemployment filings for Labor Dept. at Convention Center. Hawaii went from having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. to now one of the highest. KHON2.

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HTA rolling out new procedures to prevent quarantine rule breaking. Multiple people have broken quarantine rules since it began, the latest being a pair that broke quarantine more than once. To improve the system, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is rolling out new procedures. KHON2.

Visitors still trickling into Hawaii, but most passengers are residents. A small flow of visitors is still coming into the state, despite onerous emergency orders and high-profile arrests of violators. Star-Advertiser.

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Antibody tests show COVID-19 was in Hawaii before first positive test. New COVID-19 antibody studies out of USC and Stanford hint that the coronavirus may have been more widespread than originally thought, which would significantly reduce the disease’s mortality rate. KHON2.

Hawaii’s coronavirus cases rise to 592, up 6. Hawaii’s tally of coronavirus cases has risen to 592, up six from Tuesday, state Department of Health officials said today. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Reports 6 New Cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, 75% of those infected by the coronavirus had recovered, according to Hawaii health officials. Civil Beat.

Hawai‘i reported six new cases of coronavirus overnight, bringing the statewide total to 592. The state Department of Health identified three of the cases on O‘ahu, while the other three were reported on the Big Island. Big Island Now.

Lawmaker implies state health director withheld information about 2 COVID-19 clusters. The state health director and the lead medical coordinator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency were in the hot seat Wednesday before the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19. Tribune-Herald.

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Hawaii’s small businesses ready for more aid. An estimated 11,000 Hawaii small businesses tried but failed to snag forgivable federal loans for paying workers and certain bills amid the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the economy. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii businesses ready for next round of PPP loans. Island banks and businesses are gearing up for the second round of Payroll Protection Program loans, which can help keep even non-essential workers busy. KITV4.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Caldwell explains 30-day shutdown extension amid concerns. At least some in the local restaurant and retail industries were uneasy with Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s announcement Tuesday that he will extend his stay-at-home, work-from-home order — aimed at blunting the spread of the coronavirus —by an entire month through May 31. Star-Advertiser.

Virus Test Kits Touted By City Lack Federal And State Approval. Thousands of coronavirus test kits Honolulu plans to order from a Texas-based company haven’t been authorized by the federal agency that oversees test kits. Civil Beat.

When it comes to ramped up testing on Oahu, leaders aren’t on the same page. There’s growing criticism from state officials a day after Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced enhanced testing efforts. Caldwell said the city is spending $2 million to ramp up COVID-19 testing on Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii quarantine violators picked up in manhunt after violating rules again. A couple, who were arrested Tuesday for violating the state’s quarantine order, gave law enforcement the slip and broke the rules again before finally getting sent home Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

2 visitors arrested for allegedly breaking quarantine leave Hawaii.  Two tourists who were arrested twice for violating the 14-day quarantine have left Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Businesses, residents struggle for survival in Chinatown. Chinatown’s Kekaulike Market saw a glimmer of encouragement when the week began with several dozen people shopping for produce following weeks of discouraging turnout. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Tourism reboot: What should tourism 2.0 look like in Hawaii County? Tourism, Hawaii’s No. 1 industry, is in a reboot, and tourism officials see it as a perfect opportunity to redefine how they go about marketing the state. West Hawaii Today.

Council votes to accept $5.3 million for police overtime. After months of delays and revisions, the Hawaii County Council finally approved a deal between the county and the state for reimbursement of police overtime costs incurred during the Thirty Meter Telescope protests on Maunakea last year. Tribune-Herald.

Roads-acquisition bill shelved. A proposal to allow the county to acquire key private roads around the island was postponed indefinitely after being roundly criticized during a County Council committee meeting Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.

County Clarifies New Rule Requiring Hand Sanitizers At Stores. Businesses must now provide hand sanitizer to customers, or at least a place to wash hands as an alternative. Big Island Video News.

Remote, Rural Kaʻū Prepares For Possible COVID-19 Surge. At least one positive case of COVID-19 has been found in the Kaʻū region of the Big Island, according to state health officials. It's something this remote and rural district has been preparing months for. Hawaii Public Radio.

Maui

Merriman’s confirms COVID-19 cases reported by DOH. Three coronavirus cases tied to Merriman’s in Kapalua had about 65 people potentially exposed to the virus in an incident that has since been deemed too small to be a cluster and a “very low” risk to public health, state health officials said Wednesday. Maui News.

Maui Restaurant COVID-19 Grouping Involved 3-4 Positive Cases and Up to 100 Exposed Contacts. Officials with the Maui District Health Office clarified information shared yesterday about a group of positive COVID-19 cases involving a restaurant on Maui.  Dr. Lorrin Pang said he misspoke by calling the group a cluster and said the group included 3 or 4 confirmed cases and 100 exposed contacts. Maui Now.

Maui Stay-At-Home Orders Will Likely Be Extended to End of May. Mayor Victorino said he’d likely report this coming Friday on the likelihood of extending Maui’s stay-at-home orders. Maui Now.

A 95-year-old Maui woman’s family is upset after she contracts COVID-19 while in the hospital. Pukalani resident Lillian Seiser, 95, was admitted to Maui Memorial Medical Center on Feb. 29 for a urinary tract infection and, six weeks later, tested positive for the coronavirus. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Victorino announces his plan to start phasing in reopening businesses. On Wednesday he announced he plans to start phasing in reopening businesses in three to four weeks. KITV4.

Supreme Court sides largely with environmentalists in Maui wastewater case. The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that sewage plants and other industries cannot avoid environmental requirements under landmark clean-water protections when they send dirty water on an indirect route to rivers, oceans and other navigable waterways. Associated Press.

Kauai

Council addresses housing, Sunshine Law. Written testimony regarding the lifted Sunshine Laws was brought to the attention of the Kaua‘i County Council’s at its April 22 meeting. Garden Island.

Ahead of the curve in Renewable Energy. Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative announced on Earth Day that the entity has achieved 56% renewable energy production for 2019, well ahead of its own strategic goals and the State of Hawai‘i’s mandated renewable benchmarks. The information was filed with the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission this week in KIUC’s Renewable Portfolio Standard Annual Report. Garden Island.

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