Thursday, December 30, 2021

Hawaii shortens quarantine times, braces for holiday coronavirus surge, Maui postpones plastic takeout ban, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Department of Health

Hawaii shortens COVID isolation rules. The Hawaii Department of Health on Wednesday cut the state’s COVID-19 isolation and quarantine time requirements in half to align with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Char ‘very concerned’ about New Year’s celebrations.
The state’s health director said Wednesday she’s “very concerned about New Year’s” celebrations and hopes people will act accordingly to minimize the risk of spreading novel coronavirus infections. Tribune-Herald.

Tourism continues rebound
: But uncertainty remains due to omicron concerns. Despite stronger than expected visitor numbers in 2021, state officials on Wednesday said 2022’s tourism outlook is hazy. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii labor department reports 7 workplace fatalities in 2021. A total of 23 “major incidents” unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic were reported to DLIR in 2021, many of them involving unsafe conditions that resulted in amputations, bone fractures, dislocated shoulders and joints, and electrical burns, among other injuries, the agency said. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaii records 3 new coronavirus-related deaths, 1,561 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 1,322 new cases on Oahu, 26 on Hawaii Island, 134 on Maui, 58 on Kauai, 12 on Molokai, two on Lanai and seven Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Defiant Honolulu Mayor Defends His Approach To Omicron Surge
. Mayor Rick Blangiardi said businesses know what to do to limit Covid-19 spread and don’t require further restrictions, despite admonishments from the state Department of Health. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Navy Argues Health Department Lacks Power To Shut Down Red Hill. The Navy’s filing makes clear it is not going to drain the Red Hill fuel tanks without a fight. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Navy Says Military Families Displaced By Water Crisis May Return Home Next Week. The Navy told lawmakers it will not meet a Jan. 3 deadline to come up with a plan for decontaminating its drinking water well. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

A Boom In Illicit Fireworks Is Rattling Honolulu Pets And Annoying Residents
. Honolulu banned fireworks except firecrackers on all but a few days a year in 2011, but it’s become “one of those laws no one enforces.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

County expects today will have highest daily case count since the start of the pandemic
. So far, the highest official tally of new cases in a single day on the island is 206, a record set during the delta surge earlier this year. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now.

Better late than never? 23 years later, property owners seek sewer fee refund. After paying their two sewer bills for more than two decades, owners of two contiguous lots on Alii Drive are arguing they should have had to pay only one sewer bill because the structure on one of the lots is an outbuilding, not an unoccupied unit as defined by the county. West Hawaii Today.

Six HOPE Services Affordable Housing Units Move to Pāhoa. The units, which were constructed at HPM’s Ke‘eau factory, will comprise the Sacred Heart Affordable Housing Project, which will also offer supportive services. The remaining six homes are scheduled to arrive at the site by the end of this week. Big Island Now.


Maui postpones disposable plastic foodware ban due to supply shortages. Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said he is postponing the county’s ban on disposable plastic foodware by three months due to supply shortages. Victorino said supply chain disruptions have delayed shipping of compostable alternatives for businesses to implement the new ordinance. Hawaii News Now.

Hundreds wait for hours for free take-home test from County of Maui.
With some people waiting about three hours, hundreds of vehicles spilled out of War Memorial Gymnasium as people grabbed free COVID-19 test kits being distributed by County of Maui staff in Wailuku on Wednesday afternoon. Maui Now.

Maui Health updates visitor policy amid “rapid rise” in COVID-19 cases. Maui Health’s Emergency Operations Center team is updating its visitor policy effective today, due to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the community. Maui Now.

State’s $11M beach restoration project awaits final approval. While mitigating the impacts of rising water levels and coastal erosion in West Maui is crucial, a proposed $11 million project awaiting final approvals and permitting to begin beach restoration next year is just “a temporary solution” and might not be the best use of taxpayer money, a West Maui official said. Maui News.


No Kuhio Highway contraflow until new year.
Contraflow on Kuhio Highway is canceled through Saturday, Jan. 1, according to the state Department of Transportation. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i Bus has new pass designs.
The new passes will have a different color each month, and will contain a QR code to link riders to The Kaua‘i Bus website,, where riders can get live tracking information on bus-arrival times. Garden Island.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

University of Hawaii moves classes online, public schools to resume in-person classes, first responder shortages close Oahu ambulance stations, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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University of Hawaii-Hilo ©2021 All Hawaii News

University of Hawaii moving most courses online for first 2 weeks of spring semester. The University of Hawaii announced today it will temporarily move many courses at its 10 campuses online for the first two weeks of the spring semester due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state driven by the highly contagious omicron variant. The spring semester begins on Jan. 10. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Schools to resume full in-person classes despite highest surge in cases since the pandemic started. Around 193,000 kids will be back in classrooms next week, following winter break. KHON2.

Hawaii’s latest COVID-19 surge is touching off labor shortages.
Amid surging infection counts as the COVID-19 threat is poised to enter its third year, pandemic fatigue is mounting for Hawaii’s workers and businesses. Star-Advertiser.

Proposals To Help Hawaii’s Homeless Population Taking Shape At Legislature.
Service providers hope more money in the state budget this coming year will mean new and expanded programs. Civil Beat.

Hawaii losing ‘irreplaceable’ shore defender when Sam Lemmo retires. Sam Lemmo, longtime administrator of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands within the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, is ending a 30-year career in local public service Friday. Star-Advertiser.

With cases at record highs, DOH urges mayors to impose New Year’s restrictions. The state Health Department is urging county mayors to impose more controls on New Year’s Eve gatherings. They fear revelers will add fuel to the already out of control surge of COVID infections. Hawaii News Now.

New COVID-19 treatment options show promise but are in short supply in Hawaii. Early treatment options for COVID-19 have become increasingly promising as a means to keep people at high risk of developing severe illness out of the hospital and from dying, but their availability in Hawaii is in short supply. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii sees 824 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 104,597. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 613 new cases on Oahu, 50 on Hawaii Island, 107 on Maui, 17 on Kauai, 25 on Molokai and 12 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


As cases soar, COVID staffing shortages force some Oahu ambulance stations to temporarily close. More than 200 Oahu first responders were out Tuesday either because they’re infected with COVID or they’re in quarantine, the city confirmed. Hawaii News Now.

Health officials identify another COVID cluster linked to music festival.
The Department of Health reports another COVID cluster from the Hawaii’s Finest Music Festival After Party at Moani Waikiki at the International Market Place. KHON2. KITV4.

Board of Water Supply lauds ruling to drain Red Hill fuel tanks. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply on Tuesday welcomed the recommendation of a state Department of Health hearings officer that the Navy must comply with an emergency order to empty its fuel tanks at the underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Christmas trees burned at Kane'ohe Bay sandbar 'illegal and disrespectful,' DLNR says. The Department of Land and Natural Resources is warning the community not to burn Christmas trees at Kaneohe Sand Bar. The DLNR warns that anyone caught could be cited or arrested. KITV4.   KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Ready to collect: New 3% hotel tax goes into effect Saturday. The county tax forms are in place, new government employees are being hired and the hospitality industry is ready to begin what Mayor Mitch Roth calls the “unacceptable but necessary” step of charging guests at hotels and transient vacation rentals an extra 3% starting Saturday. West Hawaii Today.

DLNR warns against desecration of Lake Waiau after rock-throwing incident at Mauna Kea. A woman who posted photos on social media of large rocks being thrown into Lake Waiau — a culturally significant lake located on Mauna Kea — earlier this month prompted state officials to warn the public against doing so. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.


Chairperson resigns as Charter Commission wraps up review. Maui County Charter Commission Chairperson Lance Collins announced his resignation effective at the end of the meeting on Dec. 16, citing a conflict between his service on the commission and the new role he had accepted as a per diem judge. Maui News.

Maui County to distribute thousands of free, at-home test kits on Wednesday. The kits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting 4 p.m. Wednesday, while supplies last, at the War Memorial Gymnasium parking lot in Wailuku. The county will also provide several hundred kits to Molokai and Lanai residents at a later time. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. KHON2.

Sen. DeCoite addresses growing COVID-19 case count on Molokaʻi. Senator Lynn DeCoite is urging residents of Molokaʻi to take proper precautions against COVID-19 amid increased case counts on the island. Maui Now. KITV4.


Mongoose captured in Kauai harbor. A mongoose was found and trapped at a harbor on Kauai, where the invasive species has not yet established a presence. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.   KHON2.

Kaua‘i reports 120 record-high COVID-19 single-day count. This is nearly double the previous county-high of 62 new cases reported on Sept. 2. Garden Island.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Hawaii Legislature eyes a future without gut-and-replace, jury trials suspended again, Hawaii County mayor tests positive for coronavirus, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News
Hawaii state Capitol ©2021 All Hawaii News

Hawaii Lawmakers Grapple With Ruling That Bars Last-Minute Bill Changes. For decades the Legislature swapped out the entire contents of bills almost at the last minute. A Supreme Court ruling will force lawmakers to change their ways. Civil Beat.

Brian Taniguchi To Retire From Legislature After 42 Years. The current state senator, a Democrat, was previously in the state House of Representatives. Civil Beat.

Commissioner defends redrawn voter maps, saying changes reflect new demographics.  Amid growing complaints about how Hawaii’s election districts are being redrawn, a reapportionment commissioner is defending the plan. Hawaii News Now.

An advocate says the state needs to do more to address food insecurity. A new study highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food insecurity found that Hawaiʻi is about average compared to the rest of the country. Hawaii Public Radio.

Jury trials suspended again due to virus surge. Hawaii Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald on Thursday issued an order once again postponing the start of jury trials in Hawaii’s courts until after Feb. 28. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii airports see flight cancellations, scores of travel delays. While Hawaii has experienced fewer staffing-related flight cancellations than many destinations this holiday season, Monday brought at least 17 cancellations, and more than 100 delays. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Hawaii hospitals facing staff shortages as omicron cases surge.
The head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii said it’s critical that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves an urgent request to send 700 supplemental health care workers to Hawaii in three waves starting Jan. 10. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Lt. Gov Josh Greens calls for booster shot requirements after Hawaii sees record high COVID cases.
There are about 350,000 people in Hawaii who have received booster shots but the lieutenant governor says that number needs to be doubled in the next two weeks. KITV4.

Hawaii sees 1,384 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 103,773. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 1,161 new cases on Oahu, 103 on Hawaii Island, 71 on Maui, 23 on Kauai, two on Molokai and 24 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Forecast projects large omicron surge in Hawaii over the next week. The Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group’s latest forecast shows the most likely scenario is Honolulu hitting 4,000 daily cases and 250 hospitalizations by the new year. KHON2.

Hearing Officer Calls For Closing Red Hill Fuel Facility To Avert ‘Imminent Threat’. The Navy can still object to the hearing officer’s proposed decision, which would have to be finalized by a health department deputy director. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

More COVID-19 tests and vaccinations now available on Oahu. Access to COVID-19 testing on Oahu is being expanded in response to skyrocketing community demand for testing and vaccinations as Hawaii undergoes a record surge of COVID-19 infections that reached its highest peak yet with Sunday’s count of 2,205 cases. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiʻi Convention Center is reopening to large events in January 2022. General Manager Teri Orton said the facility will follow state and county rules for large events — and maintain safety measures it had throughout the pandemic. Hawaii Public Radio.

City working on enforcement for new North Shore beach commercial activity ban. A law that bans commercial activity at North Shore city beach parks has gone into effect, and the city is working on sending out notices to businesses about compliance. Star-Advertiser.

Miske Defense Says It Isn’t Getting Key Evidence Against Him. Despite a massive transmission of evidence, an attorney for the accused crime boss says many documents are missing or blacked out, hampering his defense. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Gathering limits to tighten: Mayor tests positive for COVID-19; state sees record surge of cases. Indoor gathering restrictions will tighten yet again on the Big Island after Mayor Mitch Roth, along with several thousand other Hawaii residents, contracted COVID over the weekend. Tribune-Herald. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.


As cases rise, Maui’s mayor eyes more testing — and restrictions. As coronavirus cases rise on the Valley Isle, the mayor says he is looking at reinstating some restrictions and promises to provide more testing for residents. Hawaii News Now.

Residents plan legal action to halt controversial Kā‘anapali Beach restoration plan. West Maui residents said they are pursuing legal action and other measures to halt a beach restoration plan at Kāʻanapali Beach that they say is riddled with negative environmental and cultural impacts. Maui Now.

State seeks to add parking, showers at Makena park. A $2 million project that would add bathrooms and showers, nearly 140 parking stalls and other improvements is being proposed for the highly visited Makena State Park. Maui News.

Boil water advisory continues for some Upcountry Maui residents. The Maui County Department of Water Supply said a boil water advisory continues for residents of Waipoli and Polipoli roads. Residents of Lower Kula Road between Naʻalae and Waipoli roads are also advised to boil water as a precaution until further notice.  Hawaii Public Radio.


Kaua‘i Officials: Surge to Get Worse Over New Years. Hawai‘i State Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Officers said on Monday COVID-19 cases are expected to rise during the holiday week, given the transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the propensity for people to gather in large groups during New Years celebrations. Kauai Now.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Kahele contracts COVID as Hawaii cases hit new record, Big Island council redistricting completed, Zuckerberg buys Kauai land, reservoir, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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U.S. Rep Kai Kahele ©2021 All Hawaii News

Kahele tests positive for COVID, says he’s experiencing mild symptoms.  Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele has tested positive for COVID-19. Kahele, D-Hawaii, tweeted the diagnosis Sunday morning. Kahele’s infection is considered a breakthrough case as he is fully vaccinated and also received a booster. Hawaii News Now.

White House staffers who visited Hawaii test positive for COVID-19. A group of White House staffers who visited Hawaii last week have tested positive for COVID-19. The staffers were part of Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks’s entourage, who was on Oahu to visit the Red Hill Fuel storage facility last Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Amid skyrocketing COVID case counts, new debate on restrictions emerges. The record number of new COVID cases has prompted some medical experts to call for new restrictions. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Lawmakers Plan To Revive Old Bills For Future Of Food And Farming. As the focus on local food production continues, lawmakers and lobbyists want to make farming and ranching easier in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A Community Is Trying To Save Hawaiian Burials From Eroding Into The Sea. Climate change is threatening iwi kupuna from mauka to makai. Experts say the tools exist to come up with a solution but it will require political will. Civil Beat.

Seismic hazard study gauges Hawaii’s earthquake vulnerability. The updated Seismic Hazard Model for the State of Hawaii, published Wednesday in the science journal Earthquake Spectra, indicates the entire island chain remains vulnerable to damage from an earthquake. Star-Advertiser.

Research Institute Faces Challenges Bridging Criminal Justice Data Gaps. The Hawaii Criminal Justice Research Institute is still working to combine data from police, jails, courts and other agencies to determine if improvements should be made to the system. Civil Beat.

Some face coverings might not be enough against omicron. COVID infections continue to rise across the state, and new daily case records continue to be reported. KHON2.

Hawaii sets new COVID infection record with Sunday’s count of 2,205 cases. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 1,841 new cases on Oahu, 118 on Hawaii Island, 132 on Maui, 68 on Kauai, 17 on Molokai, one on Lanai and 28 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


COVID clusters reported at 2 Honolulu nightclubs and a Hilton Hawaiian Village event. State health officials are investigating three clusters of COVID cases stemming from large gatherings in Honolulu over the past two weeks. Health officials are looking into events at The District Nightclub and The Republik on both Dec. 10 and 11, and one on Dec. 11 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village involving the Adult Foster Homecare Association of Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

Queen’s Medical Center Punchbowl, West Oahu implements No Visitor Policy as COVID cases rise. To prevent in-person contact, officials said those who wish to visit a patient can consider other options like calling or video chatting. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii company could play role in removal of Red Hill fuel amid water contamination. State officials have been discussing the possibility of using facilities maintained by fuel refinery and distribution company Par Hawaii to store some of it. Star-Advertiser.

Navy apologizes after official says Red Hill contamination isn’t a crisis. The Navy is apologizing for downplaying the seriousness of Oahu’s tainted water crisis. Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary James Balocki drew heat for saying the tainted water issue at Red Hill was not a crisis. Hawaii News Now.

Extending lifeguards’ hours needs faster rollout, chief says.
Ocean Safety personnel currently working extended hours are still working a 40-hour week, Titchen said, with an alternate work schedule of four 10-hour days or three 12-hour days. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Map is pau: New County Council boundaries completed by Redistricting Commission. After seemingly endless meetings where tiny population clusters were moved block by tedious block, spirited public input and a dozen drafts later, a final map of County Council districts has been approved that will stand for the next 10 years. West Hawaii Today.

‘A Vision for Punaluʻu’: Black Sand Beach Developer Vows Community-Led Project for Neglected Area. Norman Quon, project director for the Punalu’u, said that the property owner, Eva Liu, is committed to working with the community in shaping the plans to reinvigorate 434 acres around the area known as Black Sand Beach on the southern end of the island. Big Island Now.

HPD updates community on animal control program, services offered. Jan. 1 will mark six months of the Hawaii Police Department’s hands-on management of animal control services on the Big Island — the same date a new law goes into effect requiring dog and cat owners to microchip their animals. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County closes on $10.5M purchase of 500 Acres in Central Maui. Maui County has closed on a $10.5 million purchase with A&B Properties of approximately 500 acres known as Waiʻale South and Waiʻale North, according to an announcement by Mayor Michael Victorino. Maui Now.

New workforce homes in Kīhei now taking applications starting at $390,000. Hale Kaiola is Maui’s first neighborhood processed under the 2.97 incentive program and is currently finalizing the permitting process and is set to break ground in January of 2022.  Maui Now.

Facebook founder buys more Kauai land, including Ka Loko Reservoir. A more than century-old former sugar plantation reservoir on Kauai that unleashed a deadly flood 15 years ago is now part of an enlarged domain of billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Star-Advertiser.

Ho‘oponopono Plastic Program collects to upcycle plastics.
A Kaua‘i-based ocean-conservation group is ready to expand its commercial-plastic-collection initiative, but needs help getting to the next level. Garden Island.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Hotel occupancy stays low, Maui plastic takeout ban to commence, Big Island council bans glyphosate at county parks, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Quiet hotel lobby in Hawaii ©2021 All Hawaii News

November hotel occupancy in Hawaii stays below 60%
. Occupancy at Hawaii hotels in November was still significantly below the 2019 pre-pandemic level. Star-Advertiser.

Inconsistencies In Data From U.S. Military May Hold Up Hawaii Redistricting. Hawaii’s redistricting process will move forward while a commission that redraws political boundaries awaits accurate data. Civil Beat.

Residents reject redrawn Hawaii district maps, call out lack of transparency. The effort to redraw state district maps for House of Representatives and Senate seats is drawing criticism from concerned residents and neighborhood boards and raising questions about transparency. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Commentary: A Memoir By A Former Hawaii AG Fills In Some Holes In Recent State History. David Louie has a lot to say about politics and government in the islands.  Civil Beat.

Commissioners With Hawaii Ties Named To Biden’s AANHPI Panel.
The Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders will help the president with policy recommendations. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Hawai‘i public schools consider test-to-stay COVID-19 policy. The feasibility of a test-to-stay model for Hawai‘i public schools is on the mind of administrators and officials. Test-to-stay programs allow students and staff members who have had a school associated close COVID-19 contact to continue to attend school in person if they test negative. Garden Island.

Omicron Is About To Become The Main Covid-19 Variant In Hawaii, Health Officials Say. Health officials say omicron is likely on the neighbor islands, not just Oahu, and every adult who is eligible for a booster should get one. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Local hospitals prepare for expected Omicron-fueled COVID case surge.
With local medical facilities preparing for an influx of COVID patients, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii says it's in good shape in terms of oxygen supply, personal protective equipment and other supplies. But the association does expect to need additional health care workers. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii records 2 new coronavirus-related deaths, 961 additional infections.
The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 866 new cases on Oahu, 21 on Hawaii Island, 58 on Maui, seven on Kauai, one on Molokai, two on Lanai and six Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Plan that reimagines industrial area near airport’s rail station approved in unanimous vote.  The Honolulu Planning Commission Wednesday approved the airport transit-oriented development plan. The plan, approved by a 9-0 vote, could result in more residential development near rail project’s Lagoon Drive station but not at the expense of current industrial tenants. Hawaii News Now.

High-ranking Navy official downplays tainted water issue, saying it’s ‘not a crisis’. Dual investigations are ongoing into the Navy’s tainted water crisis. As the Pentagon’s Inspector General probes the safety of the Navy’s Red Hill fuel tanks, new details over past spilled have emerged from an internal Navy review. Hawaii News Now.

Climate Change Will Make It Harder To Protect The Environment Around Oahu’s Next Landfill. The effects of a warming planet are also expected to make it more expensive to safeguard land and water. Civil Beat.

City Attorney Kicked Off HPD Shooting Lawsuit For Creating A Conflict Of Interest. Corporation Counsel attorney Kyle Chang was disqualified after providing conflicting arguments in the case. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Council passes glyphosate ban at county parks. The County Council on Wednesday passed a bill banning the use of Round-Up or other glyphosate-based herbicides at county parks, sending it to Mayor Mitch Roth, who is expected to sign it. West Hawaii Today.

Hospitals prep for surge: ‘Don’t let your guard down over the holidays’. Big Island hospitals are preparing for a rough winter as all signs point to an omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge within the next month. Tribune-Herald.


Maui plastic disposal foodware ban takes effect on New Year’s Day. Banned items include plastic disposable food service containers and utensils such forks, spoons and knives, and plates, trays, bowls, cups, hinged (plate lunch) containers and straws. Maui Now. KHON2.

More out-of-state residents buying Maui homes this year. The number of Maui County homes purchased by out-of-state buyers this year nearly doubled compared with last year, according to state data. Maui Now.

Average Rate for Maui County Hotels at $531 for Nov. 2021; Occupancy at 65%. Maui County hotels led the state in November 2021 with average daily rate of $531, revenue per available room at $347 and occupancy at 65%, according to the latest Hawaiʻi Hotel Performance Report published by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Maui Now.


Kaua‘i begins to see new COVID-19 cases spike. The Hawai‘i State Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office announced 41 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Garden Island.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Reapportionment Commission upending old plans, Green seeks mass vax sites ahead of worsening coronavirus surge, someone's shooting endangered monk seals on Molokai, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Rep. Sylvia Luke

Rep. Sylvia Luke’s District May Be Dissolved To Help Calm The Reapportionment Furor. After some intense lobbying by critics, the state Reapportionment Commission now wants to overhaul the proposed House district maps that might have set up primary election contests between as many as 10 incumbent Democrats. Civil Beat.

November hotel occupancy in Hawaii stays below 60%.
Occupancy at Hawaii hotels in November was still significantly below the 2019 pre-pandemic level. Star-Advertiser.

Green urges other state officials to sign off on large-scale booster clinics ahead of Christmas. Lt. Gov. Josh Green believes the best way to knock back this latest surge is to make it as easy as possible for people to get a booster shot. Hawaii News Now.

Rapid rise in COVID-19 cases prompts Hawaii hospitals into crisis preparation mode. Hawaii’s hospitals are gearing up for a rise in COVID-­19 patients as the omicron variant takes hold in the islands. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii sees 707 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 94,293. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 647 new cases on Oahu, nine on Hawaii Island, 24 on Maui, 10 on Kauai, one on Molokai, one on Lanai and 15 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


‘The Stakes Are High’: Why The Navy Doesn’t Want To Defuel The Red Hill Tanks. Public pressure to remove jet fuel from more than a dozen Navy underground storage tanks on Oahu comes as the U.S. military feels increasing pressure from China to strengthen its presence in the Pacific region. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio.

Navy now says major release from Red Hill tank in May may be source of water contamination. A top Navy official now says that as much as 19,000 gallons of fuel may have been released from a Red Hill fuel tank May 6, eventually migrating last month into the Navy’s drinking water system and the faucets of thousands of military families. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Supreme Court rules forfeitures of sweepstakes machines improper. The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office and the Honolulu Police Department may be forced to return hundreds of sweepstakes machines under a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Hawaii News Now.

$120 million clinic will treat Leeward vets. The Department of Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Healthcare System officially broke ground Tuesday on its long-planned community clinic for the Leeward side. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Water Board frustrated by slow PVC project: Solar plans stuck in building permit backlog. First the pandemic lockdown orders and then delays getting permits from a backlogged Department of Public Works have led to a 382-day delay in the county Department of Water Supply being able to transition some of its electrical use to solar power. West Hawaii Today.

Forecasters: Expect a wet Christmas. East Hawaii residents should expect the wet weather that’s drenched the windward side of the island for much of the month to continue through Christmas weekend. Tribune-Herald.

USGS: Eruption at Halemaumau Crater has paused, break could last several days. The eruption that began months ago at Halemaumau Crater has paused, the U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday. Geologists said based on the length of recent breaks, this one could last several days. Hawaii News Now. Big Island Now.


Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Makes Donation to Maui Hospital. Maui Memorial Medical Center today announced a donation from Amazon Founder and Executive Chair, Jeff Bezos. The donation will be used to expand the hospitalʻs Emergency Department. The amount is undisclosed and was received in full by MMMC, according to a Maui Health spokesperson. Maui Now.

Kalama Intermediate Dedicates Long Awaited Outdoor Playcourt. The newly covered playcourt will be used for Physical Education classes and will provide the school with a new outdoor space with rain protection. Maui Now. Maui News.

Monk seal fatally shot is third death on Molokai this year. An endangered Hawaiian monk seal that was found dead on Molokai in September was shot in the head with a gun, federal officials said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Tribune-Herald. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.


Kipu Ranch Adventures turns over $7,170 in proceeds to Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i. The $7,170 total presented to Tisha Ruiz and Michelle Panoke of the foodbank represents what has been collected since the program got underway in June. Garden Island.

Kukulu Kumuhana O Anahola begins Ulupono Anahola planting. As part of KKOA’s three-day ‘Aina to ‘Opu event, yesterday’s day two marked the first day of planting kalo on the Ulupono Anahola Makai site. Garden Island.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Ige budget to restore Covid cuts, Pentagon to investigate Red Hill fuel leak, Maui places 1k families in affordable housing, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. David Ige unveils budget PC:Governor's Office

Gov. David Ige’s budget plan would boost spending, restore some pandemic cuts. The governor wants to stash much of the surplus in a “rainy day” fund. Ige’s new $16.9 billion budget proposal also includes hefty increases in spending for the state Department of Education and the University of Hawaii system. The governor said he is not planning any tax increases. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Gov. David Ige's Budget in Brief. PDF document link.

Minimum wage debate will likely return to state Legislature in the upcoming session. A measure to raise it from $10.10 an hour has passed the Senate for the past two sessions, but not the House. In 2014, the Legislature approved gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over several years. Hawaii Public Radio.

Should Hawaii Overhaul How It Investigates Police Shootings? It doesn’t appear Hawaii will create an independent agency to investigate police shootings, a step states like Washington have already taken. Civil Beat.

Nearly $50M in federal infrastructure money to help improve Hawaiʻi airports.
Jai Cunningham, with the state Department of Transportation, says the money will make a big difference in maintaining airport operations. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii’s omicron case tally rises to 50, Lt. Gov. Josh Green calls for mass vaccination and testing sites. State Department of Health officials Monday said additional omicron variant coronavirus cases brought the statewide total of the highly transmissible variant to 50. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii reports 840 new coronavirus infections; omicron cases in islands increase. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 742 new cases on Oahu, 26 on Hawaii Island, 42 on Maui, 21 on Kauai, one on Molokai, three on Lanai and five Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Pentagon inspector general launches probe of Red Hill. The Pentagon’s Inspector General’s Office announced Monday it will launch an investigation into the operations, maintenance and safety of the Navy’s underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Star-Advertiser.

Navy Fends Off Criticism During 13-Hour Hearing On Red Hill Water Crisis.
A Honolulu Board of Water Supply expert said the fuel tanks are ‘entering an end of life phase’ but the military wants to decide if any need emptied. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Navy begins filtering tap water, but it could be a while before displaced residents can go home. The Navy started flushing and filtering its drinking water Monday and says scrubbing and testing multiple neighborhoods around Pearl Harbor could take 30 to 45 days, which means it’ll be a while before displaced families can move home. Hawaii News Now.

Debate looms over whether to tighten restrictions as COVID cases skyrocket on Oahu. Despite the huge spike in COVID-19 cases, city officials said it's not enough to trigger new restrictions just yet. KITV4.

Oahu’s Covid-19 Daily Case Count Could Surge To Thousands By New Year, Forecast Says. A top state healthcare official warned that the worst-case scenario, which includes some 800 Covid hospitalizations by the new year, would be “catastrophic.” Civil Beat.

Agency wants more public funds to replace Aloha Stadium. A state agency courting private developers to replace Aloha Stadium wants Hawaii lawmakers to boost public funding before seeking bids on the roughly estimated $400 million project. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

$500k Build Back Better grant to grow island food supply. Mayor Mitch Roth’s administration was so eager to put a $500,000 American Rescue Plan Act Build Back Better Regional Challenge to good use, it fast-tracked a resolution accepting the money to the County Council before the grant was officially approved by the federal government. West Hawaii Today.

Telescope’s sensors designed, tested in Hawaii. A new NASA telescope is scheduled to launch Christmas Eve with sensors designed by University of Hawaii astronomers. Tribune-Herald.


MFO Center Reaches First Year Goal to Help 1,000 Families in Search of Affordable Housing. The Maui Financial Opportunity Center, launched as a public-private partnership between Maui County, Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Hawaiian Community Assets, has reached its first-year goal of working with over 1,000 local families to improve financial stability in order to qualify for affordable housing.  Maui Now.

East Maui purchase keeps 30 coastal acres from development. Hana-based nonprofit plans to manage shoreline, use land for conservation projects. Hana-based nonprofit Ke Ao Hali’i (Save Hana Coast), in partnership with the State of Hawaii, County of Maui and Hawaii Land Trust, purchased property that stretches from Maka’alae along the Hana coastline for just over $3 million. Maui News.

Haleakalā Park Hosting Meetings About Suppressing Non-Native Mosquitos To Protect Birds.
Haleakalā National Park is hosting a public scoping meeting Jan. 6 about a proposed Environmental Assessment for the suppression of non-native mosquito populations to address the impacts of avian malaria on threatened and endangered forest birds on Maui. Maui Now.


KCCC inmates take advantage of vaccine incentive. As of Wednesday, there have been 131 inmates at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center who have completed vaccination as part of the state Department of Public Safety’s vaccine-incentive program, according to DPS Health Care Division data. Inmates in DPS custody on or after March 3, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2024, who are still in custody and fully vaccinated against COVID-19, are eligible to receive a one-time incentive award of $50. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i Community Science Center teaches 19 classrooms remotely. The Kaua‘i Community Science Center treated Koloa School students to a morning of discovery Friday during the nonprofit’s first-ever school-wide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) Day. Garden Island.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Health experts urge caution as daily COVID cases near 1k, massive filters begin cleaning Red Hill water, less golf, more timeshares for Waikoloa, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kayakers get close to spinner dolphins off Hawaii PC:NOAA

Schatz Speaks Against Hawaiʻi Bay Closures Intended To Protect Dolphins. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) says the federal rule will "needlessly restrict locals from ocean recreation" and are "unnecessary." Big Island Video News.

State’s pension fund on a roll with 2.1% gain. Hawaii’s largest public pension fund, coming off its best performance in its 95-year history, continued its momentum by starting the new fiscal year on a positive note. Star-Advertiser.

Local economists say recovery in 2022 remains uncertain due to the new Omicron variant. The state is showing signs of recovery after the Delta variant surge, says a new report from the University of Hawaiʻi's Economic Research Organization, or UHERO. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers: Are Actors In Hawaii Productions Paying Enough In Taxes? Hawaii’s top tax official is pushing to make sure actors appearing in movies and television shows produced in Hawaii pay their fair share of state taxes, and two key lawmakers have picked up the cause, setting the stage for an examination of Hawaii’s high-profile motion picture tax incentive during the 2022 legislative session. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Schools Are Buying Less Local Food During The Pandemic. Despite new legislation requiring public schools to serve student meals with more local ingredients, advocates say they are frustrated by a regression in local food initiatives. Civil Beat.

Study: Full-Face Snorkeling Masks May Increase Risk. Duke University researchers have found that many full-face snorkeling masks do not work as advertised and in some cases may increase the risk to snorkelers.  Civil Beat.

Hawaiʻi National Guard Joint Task Force to be reestablished as COVID-19 surges. Maj. Kenneth Hara has announced that due to the current surge in COVID-19 the Hawaii National Guard Joint Task Force (HING JTF) will be reestablished. KITV4.

‘This is an emergency’: Health experts warn as Hawaii COVID cases soar. Many health officials believe Hawaii will hit 1,000 daily COVID cases soon and that large indoor gatherings and events are helping fuel the recent surge. They also believe state and county leaders need to put a limit on gatherings and other activities or cases will skyrocket even more. KHON2.

Airport COVID testing surges along with cases. COVID-19 testing has increased during the past two weeks at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport with the holidays fast approaching and a surge in infections that’s already worse than last year at this time. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii records 2 new coronavirus-related deaths, 972 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 877 new cases on Oahu, 29 on Hawaii Island, 38 on Maui, 14 on Kauai, and 14 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Massive water filters arrive to process Red Hill tainted water. As the military continues to deal with the contamination of the Navy’s water system on Oahu, it’s now hauling in massive industrial-strength filters to extract water from the system, conducting large-scale flushing beginning this morning. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Contested case hearing on state’s order to suspend operations at Red Hill planned. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday over the Navy’s case to contest the state Department of Health’s emergency order to suspend operations at the Red Hill fuel storage facility in the wake of the water contamination crisis. Hawaii News Now.

Schools Supplied By Navy Water Scramble To Provide Students With Water And Food. A 2-week winter break will relieve some strain on displaced families and teaching staff but the future outlook is still cloudy. Civil Beat.

Mauka shift on Dillingham Boulevard will save Honolulu rail $166M, a new report says. Moving the rail transit line from one side of Dillingham to the other would allow the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to avoid having to relocate high-voltage power lines. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu’s 911 diversion program aspires to bring new approach to homelessness. Star-Advertiser.

DOH tracks down COVID cluster at The Republik nightclub;
attendees urged to get tested. The DOH said there were between 900 and 1,000 at the nightclub on each night. Attendees were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Trying to please everyone: Redistricting Commission continues tinkering with council districts. Residents attending public hearings in Kona and Hilo this past week were pretty clear: They didn’t want the Kailua Village business district to be split between County Council districts, nor Waimea, nor Hawaiian Paradise Park, nor the Keaukaha and Panaewa Hawaiian Home Lands property. West Hawaii Today.

State to take partial ownership of Kalanianaole Avenue; county dumps contractor. The state Department of Transportation confirmed late Friday afternoon that ownership of the portion of Kalanianaole Avenue in Hilo between Kanolelehua Avenue and Kuhio Street is slated for transfer from the county to the state in January. Tribune-Herald.

Less golf, more timeshares: Leeward Planning Commission advances Waikoloa Resort plans. Fewer holes of golf and more timeshare units could become the name of the game for Waikoloa Resort developers, following approvals Thursday by the Leeward Planning Commission. West Hawaii Today.

Upgrades Ahead: Mass Transit Hits Full Throttle on Bus Improvements. After receiving a litany of complaints and suggestions from passengers, Hawaiʻi County Mass Transit has taken to heart what those people were saying by ushering in a new set of standards aimed at making the riding experience, not only more convenient but practical and enjoyable, too. Big Island Now.


Council overrides mayor’s veto on housing waitlist. The Maui County Council voted Friday to override Mayor Michael Victorino’s veto of a bill that would create an affordable housing waitlist overseen by the county, saying that changes needed to be made to get more people into homes. Maui News.

Virtual Meeting Set for Public Input on Formation of Maui Dept. of Agriculture. A virtual community meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021, to gather public input on the formation of the new Department of Agriculture. Maui Now.

Maui County Immigrant Services Division Continues to Offer Migrant Services. Although the recent retirement of long-time staff has changed the scope of available services, the division continues to assist migrants applying for benefits who do not require legal advice, including those from the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau. Maui Now.


BLNR renews KIUC permit despite local opposition.
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources renewed Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s revocable permit to divert water from Wai‘ale‘ale and Waikoko streams last week, despite opposition from local groups. Garden Island.

Like on top of OPA special primary election; general in February. As of Saturday’s election night, Rebecca “Becky” Like garnered 8,184 votes, over Shaylene Iseri, who came in with 3,645 votes in the county’s special primary election for prosecuting attorney, according to a first print-out of results. This is just the first round between Iseri and Like, who will both be on the general-election ballot in February. Garden Island.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Hawaii high school students lagging behind, congressional delegation seeks Red Hill fix, Mauna Kea stewardship at issue, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Department of Education
Hawaii graduates pre-COVID PC:Department of Education

Nearly 20% of Hawaii high school students not on track to graduate. Almost 20% of Hawaii’s high school students are not on track to graduate after being sent home to learn during the COVID pandemic. Educators said these students are disengaged and chronically absent. KHON2.


Hawaiʻi congressional delegation asks US House, Senate to tackle Navy's fouled water. Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation on Thursday asked House and Senate leaders to make sure the military spends whatever money it has available to address the contamination of Pearl Harbor drinking water by a Navy fuel storage facility that has leaked petroleum. Associated Press. Hawaii News Now. 

Water system now meets guidelines, Navy says. The Navy announced Thursday that its most recent testing shows that its water system no longer has contamination levels above the state Department of Health’s “environmental action limit,” or the level at which the water is regarded as unsafe for human consumption.  Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Some In Pearl City Say Clean Water Run Through Navy Pipes Also Seems Tainted. The Board of Water Supply says its water is clean and safe, but it’s traveling through Navy pipes, and residents in Manana Housing are reporting problems. Civil Beat.

Oahu businesses deal with Red Hill water contamination crisis. About 15 food operators in the Pearl Harbor NEX Food Court are still temporarily shuttered while the Navy works to resolve water contamination caused by a jet fuel leak from its Red Hill underground fuel tanks. Star-Advertiser.


Corrections Commission Again Urges A Pause In Planning For A New Jail. After hearing that a new lockup could cost as much as $1 billion, members again ask the state to study alternatives. Civil Beat.

SHOPO Elections End In Shake-up For Union Leadership. Robert Cavaco was elected to be the state police union’s next president and will take over for Malcolm Lutu next month. Civil Beat.

State unemployment rate hits 20-month low of 6.0%. Hawaii’s unemployment rate fell in November to a 20-month low as the state’s labor market continued to improve despite an ongoing worker shortage. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Health Department reports 14 omicron cases as averages continue to climb.
The state Department of Health’s latest variant report now lists 14 omicron variant cases on Oahu. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Hawaii records 2 new coronavirus-related deaths, 395 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 295 new cases on Oahu, 55 on Hawaii Island, 26 on Maui, seven on Kauai, one on Molokai and 11 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Oʻahu Transit Services network slowly coming back online after cyberattack.
Honolulu’s Transportation Services Director Roger Morton says full services, such as the DaBus tracking app and the HandiVan’s mobile data terminal, should be back up in a matter of days. Hawaii Public Radio.

Priority #1 for Honolulu’s new fire chief: Filling upwards of 120 vacancies. Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Wednesday morning officially introduced Honolulu’s 35th fire chief: Kalani Hao. Hawaii News Now.

Hoyt Zia Stepping Down From The HART Board.
The retired Hawaiian Airlines executive joined the local oversight group in 2017 and saw rail’s ‘P3’ effort collapse. Civil Beat.

Data shows repairs to Koko Crater trail significantly reduced emergency rescue calls. An organization that helps maintain the popular Koko Crater trail said recent repairs to the stairs has cut emergency rescue calls by over half. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Regents get Maunakea update
: UH officials discuss streamlined structure for stewardship of the mountain. Tribune-Herald.

Contract For Kalanianaole Avenue Reconstruction Terminated. The County of  Hawaii
says it has made the decision to terminate Goodfellow Brother's contract for the reconstruction project. Big Island Video News.

Waimea Middle School cancels classes Friday amid nationwide threat of school shootings. Waimea Middle School has decided to cancel school today as a precautionary measure due to a nationwide social media rumor that school shootings will take place on Friday, Dec. 17. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.


Council to consider mayor’s veto of housing waitlist bill. Victorino worries about liability as measure would put county in charge of list. Maui News.

Mayor calls for more review of tax, sunscreen bills. Mayor Michael Victorino is asking for further review of two bills he recently signed into law that would offer tax relief to certain residents and ban nonmineral-based sunscreens in Maui County. Maui News.

County Issues Stop Work Order for Construction of Large Home in Nāpili, Maui.
The County of Maui issued a Stop Work Order to Nāpili Beach House, LLC, developer of a large single-family residence under construction in Nāpili. The home has been the subject of an ongoing dispute over its permits and size, as well as community concerns involving the height of the structure. Maui Now.

30 Acres of East Maui Coastline Protected at Makaʻalae. Hāna-based nonprofit community organization Ke Ao Hāliʻi (Save Hāna Coast), in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi, County of Maui, and Hawai‘i Land Trust, announce the purchase and protection of more than 30 acres at Makaʻalae along Maui’s Hāna coast. Maui Now.


Kaua‘i group files complaint against mayor, county, governor in federal district court
. A local group has filed a complaint in federal district court against the County of Kaua‘i, Mayor Derek Kawakami and Gov. David Ige, claiming the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 800,000 Americans to date “is a manufactured public-health event.” Garden Island.

Former litigant responds to Iseri’s claims that lawsuits were planned to derail 2012 election. A county employee, who settled a complaint against former Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri for $108,000 in 2016, has responded to Iseri’s allegations that multiple lawsuits brought against her office were intended to sabotage her failed 2012 reelection campaign. Garden Island.

Kaua’i County continues to lead in state unemployment. Kaua‘i unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% in November from 7.8% in October, according to the latest data from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Garden Island.