Friday, February 19, 2021

Hawaii is the second safest state, officials mull who should get vaccinated next, nurses could perform abortions, gambling bill dies in Legislature, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Survey: Hawai‘i is the 2nd Safest State During COVID-19. Hawaiʻi was ranked number two on a list of the safest states during the COVID-19 pandemic, second only to Alaska. Maui Now.

State leaders mull who should be prioritized in next phase of vaccine distribution.
As COVID vaccination hubs continue to immunize front line workers and kupuna 75 and over, state leaders are trying to decide who should be next. Hawaii News Now.

Some want a unified Hawaii travel program, critics argue it’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. While business owners and travel industry experts express the dire need to have a consistent program throughout the state, critics argue it’s not the safest solution. Hawaii News Now.


Gambling proposal dies in Legislature; question remains on Hawaiian Home Lands funding of homes for more than 28,000 beneficiaries. State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, chairwoman of the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee, shelved Senate Bill 1321, which had divided the committee, Native Hawaiians, the community at large and the Hawaiian Homes Commission, which voted 5-4 to refer the casino concept to the Legislature. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Should Hawaii Nurses Be Allowed To Perform Abortions?
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand access to abortions by expanding the pool of providers beyond physicians. Civil Beat.

Three minimum wage bills fail to pass committee.
All but one of the bills in the state Legislature that would raise the minimum hourly wage appear to be dead. Tribune-Herald.

University of Hawaii to restore executive salaries due to furloughs delay.
The University of Hawaii announced today that the salaries of all executive-managerial employees — which were reduced for two months to reduce costs — will be restored. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Hawaii school board votes to keep pay hikes for special-education teachers, other shortage areas.
The Board of Education voted Thursday to assure that teachers in special education and other shortage areas continue receiving up to $10,000 in extra pay annually despite the fiscal crisis. Star-Advertiser.

Contrary to board vote, superintendent says department can’t afford extra pay for hard-to-recruit teachers. Currently, about 4,000 teachers are receiving higher pay, which costs the state about $33 million. Hawaii News Now.

Sen. Mazie Hirono To Chair Senate Subcommittee On Military Seapower. Hawaii is a central hub for Navy and Marine Corps operations as tensions rise between the U.S. and China. Civil Beat.


Honolulu, Maui lawsuits against oil companies will proceed in state court. Both Honolulu and Maui counties are among dozens of jurisdictions that have filed suit against a long list of fossil fuel companies, seeking damages for the mounting costs of dealing with climate change. Star-Advertiser.

Proposed Luxury Tax on Expensive Gas Cars Would Pay for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure. The proposed measure, HB 1142, would apply a 1 percent general excise tax surcharge on cars with a manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP, of more than $60,000. Hawaii Public Radio.

Could Hawaii’s Fossil Fuel-Powered Cars Soon Be A Relic Of The Past?
The electric vehicle market is growing and state leaders want to help phase out gas-powered cars. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Lawmaker Pushes Expanded Role for Hydrogen Fuel. Both Governor Ige and state lawmakers are pushing policies to increase the use of electric vehicles and produce more green energy. Hawaii Public Radio.


State says 3rd case of highly contagious UK COVID variant detected in Hawaii. The third B.1.1.7 variant case was found in an individual on Oahu. Officials say the patient was a close contact with another individual in Hawaii who contracted the UK variant. Both individuals had no recent history of travel. Hawaii News Now.

Lieutenant Governor believes COVID-19 variants can be controlled in Hawaii. Despite the variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom and recently recorded here in Hawaii, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green believes it can be controlled here. KITV4.

Civil Beat Is Ending Its Daily Virus Tracker.
Here’s Why. Experts agree that tracking trends is more useful than focusing on daily infection counts. Civil Beat.

HAWAII VIRUS TRACKER — Feb. 18: 67 New COVID-19 Cases And 1 Death. Hawaii health officials reported 67 new COVID-19 infections statewide on Thursday, including 45 on Oahu, eight on Maui, seven on the Big Island, one on Kauai, one on Molokai and five residents diagnosed outside of Hawaii. Civil Beat.


Mayor Blangiardi hopes to reward Oahu residents for good COVID-19 behavior. With COVID-19 case numbers on the decline and vaccinations rising among Oahu’s most vulnerable populations, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said today he is ready to “reward” residents for their actions in curtailing the spread of coronavirus on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu could move to Tier 3 as soon as Feb. 25. Mayor Rick Blangiardi said, the numbers look good and Oahu could shift to Tier 3 as soon as Thursday, Feb. 25, if they continue to remain low. KHON2.

City says if O'ahu meets Tier Three criteria next Wednesday more restrictions will lift next week. The city says if the island of O'ahu meets the Tier Three criteria again next Wednesday more restrictions will lift starting next Thursday. KITV4.

Police seize more than a dozen gambling machines, cash in Sand Island raid. Honolulu police seized more than a dozen gambling machines and cash in a raid at an illegal game room in the Sand Island area Wednesday night. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Council supports broadband plan: Unanimous vote comes despite inclusion of 5G. A resolution passed unanimously Wednesday by the County Council refers to 5G technology as an option in bridging the digital divide, but council members, most of whom had previously approved two resolutions attempting to limit 5G on the island, don’t see it as a conflict. West Hawaii Today.

Thousands could be vaccinated Saturday during large-scale clinic for UH, DOE employees. According to Hilo Medical Center spokeswoman Elena Cabatu, the POD is ready to administer 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to employees of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii Community College, the state Department of Education and other educational entities. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island’s Coronavirus Decline Not Linked to Less Testing. COVID-19 cases are way down on the Big Island while the number of vaccinations continues to grow, but the County says those two developments are not entirely linked. Big Island Now.

More Travelers, Fewer COVID-19 Cases on Hawai'i Island.
The Big Island is seeing nearly half of its pre-COVID arrival numbers, while cases and hospitalizations are falling. KITV4.


COVID-19 vaccines to be administered at jail. Maui Community Correctional Center inmates will be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting next week amid efforts to tamp down an outbreak at the jail, the state Department of Health said Wednesday. Maui News.

Mainland Couple Grants $400,000 to Help Grand Wailea Workers on Maui. A mainland couple, who frequently visits the Valley Isle, donated $400,000 toward the Maui Mālama Project to assist workers at the Grand Wailea Maui with rent/mortgage, utility, child care and other expenses. Maui Now.

Report: One officer fired, two others demoted last year.
Police release names of disciplined officers under new state law. Maui News.

Council mulling purchase of Maui News buildings in Wailuku.
Testifiers and financial advisers used the county’s decision not to purchase One Main Plaza in arguing Wednesday that Maui County could save rent money by acquiring a 6.3-acre, $9.8 million parcel in Wailuku that includes The Maui News offices. Maui News.


An end to houseless beach park camping. Beginning next month, the county will be suspending its “Shelter in Place” program that had issued permits to houseless individuals and families to live at county-owned beach parks. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i’s Shelter in Place program unique in state. The Kauai “Shelter in Place” program was the first in the state when it started six months ago to help provide a place for houseless individuals during COVID-19. Garden Island.

Hawaii Plans For Post-Pandemic Tourism, Starting With Kauai.  Hawaii has released a new blueprint for redefining tourism in the post-COVID-19 era by mitigating community concerns over traffic and overcrowding on Kauai while maintaining the benefits from the state’s dominant industry. Civil Beat.

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