Monday, March 22, 2021

COVID-19 cases edge up as 'vaccine passport' mulled for Hawaii, maskless protesters crowd Oahu park, 17-year-olds may get the vote, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Slight COVID rise follows increase in travel, easing of rules. The new counts on Sunday brought the state’s average case count over the past seven days to 70, for a 1.4% positivity rate. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii ‘Vaccine Passport’ Could Open Door To Weddings, Concerts And More Tourism. Lt. Gov. Josh Green says Hawaii’s vaccine document may be complete by mid-May, and the state’s passport partner promised an announcement this week. Civil Beat.

An uptick in visitors: Survey finds 44% of those arriving have been vaccinated. There has been an uptick in trans-Pacific travel to the islands in March, likely fueled by a combination of spring break visitors and COVID-19 vaccinations. Tribune-Herald.


University of Hawaii could lose control over decisions on construction, renovation and backlogged repairs across 10-campus system. The University of Hawaii could lose control over decisions on construction, renovation and backlogged repairs across the 10-campus system if the Legislature fails to extend authorization for the UH president to continue acting as its chief procurement officer.  Star-Advertiser.

Bills would allow 17-year-olds in Hawaii to vote in elections. Senate Bill 550 and 551, introduced by Sen. Les Ihara Jr. (D, Moiliili-Kaimuki-­Palolo), would make constitutional amendments that would allow 17-year-olds in to vote in the primary election only if that person’s 18th birthday falls between next year’s primary election on Aug. 13 and general election on Nov. 8. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers work to weed out ‘gentlemen’s farms’. A state effort to stop residential use of agricultural land with little or no farming has gained strong momentum in the Legislature this year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii cuts welfare payments for ‘poorest of the poor’.
Hawaii’s Department of Human Services began slashing welfare payments to thousands of the state’s most vulnerable this month as emergency reserve funds ran dry amid increasing demand for aid. Star-Advertiser.

Public meeting bill draws concerns.
A Senate bill that would give boards the option — in conjunction with in-person meetings — to use videoconferencing for public meetings under the state’s Sunshine Law, without a declared emergency, cleared its first House hurdle. Tribune-Herald.

Rep. Kai Kahele Wants New Missile Defense Radar System On Kauai — Not Oahu. The military is weighing putting a $1.9 billion defense radar on Oahu or Kauai after Hawaii’s congressional delegation thwarted a Pentagon attempt to defund the project last year. Civil Beat.

Match Day Sees Increased Competition, Limited Slots for Soon-To-Be Doctors. It’s Match Day madness at medical schools across the country today as med school seniors find out if – and where – they’ll train to become full-fledged doctors. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.

The Pandemic Has Driven Down Hawaii’s Rate Of Childhood Lead Testing. Lead poisoning can have dire consequences for children, which makes detection in the early stages crucial. Civil Beat.

Analysis: Hawaii, other states with slow vaccine rollout perform better than those that sped up process. A surprising new analysis found that states such as South Carolina and Florida that raced ahead of others to offer the vaccine to ever-larger groups of people have vaccinated smaller shares of their population than those that moved more slowly and methodically, such as Hawaii and Connecticut. Hawaii News Now.

Former state Health Director Bruce Anderson still considers Hawaii home. Former state Health Director Bruce Anderson is a long way from home — nearly 5,000 miles away, to be exact. Star-Advertiser.

March 21, 2021 COVID-19 Update
: The state Department of Health reports that there were 81 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Sunday, including 42 on O‘ahu, 24 on Maui, five on Hawai‘i Island, one on Moloka‘i, and nine in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed out of state. Maui Now.


Honolulu Council Hopes Federal Relief Can Reverse Cuts In Blangiardi Budget. The American Rescue Plan funds can be used for a broader spectrum of purposes than the earlier federal stimulus and could make up for revenue the city lost because of the pandemic. Civil Beat.

Despite legislative setback, advocates will continue push to rename an Oahu high school.
The racial unrest across the country this past summer has fueled the movement to rename schools honoring historical figures with racist or discriminatory legacies. Hawaii News Now.

Crime rates in Waikiki have plummeted and police and visitor industry leaders want to keep it that way. Fewer people in Waikiki during the pandemic-related drop in travel and government lockdowns caused a dramatic decline in most crimes in 2020, with thefts, robberies and sex assaults down more than half and other assaults dropping by more than 40%. Star-Advertiser.

Rally over COVID rules draws large crowd, strong HPD response to Kapiolani Park. Two people were arrested and two others cited in Waikiki for violating emergency rules Saturday following a large rally at Kapiolani Park. The rally, organized by the Aloha Freedom Coalition, drew hundreds of people to the park to protest the use of masks among other COVID restrictions. Hawaii News Now.

City opening parks to outdoor youth team sports draws excitement. In about three weeks, many empty fields will soon be filled with kids playing organized sports for the first time in nearly a year. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Future uncertain for CDP committees, Kailua Village Design Commission.
The county has called a halt to filling citizen boards that advise the government on planning and design because the administration said it wants to take a hard look at how the boards can best be used. West Hawaii Today.

Kona coffee labeling settlements top $13M. Kona coffee farmers will soon be eligible to receive a share of millions of dollars thanks to proposed settlements in a 2019 class action lawsuit against retailers that falsely labeled commodity coffee beans as premium “Kona” coffee. West Hawaii Today.

Veterans home accepting residents for first time since outbreak. Admissions to Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home — halted last year due to a devastating outbreak of COVID-19 within the facility — recently have resumed. Tribune-Herald.


Mayor mulls restrictions for COVID-19 cluster areas.
County has seen nearly 40 new cases two days in a row. Maui News. Maui Now.

Maui Group Joins Rally Seeking Freedoms Amid Coronavirus Restrictions. Maui participants in a “Worldwide Rally for Freedom” held signs on Saturday afternoon fronting the Queen Kaʻahumanu Center in Kahului. Maui Now.

Council OKs $9.8M purchase of Maui News buildings. Some say move could save county rent, others worry about spending in pandemic. Maui News.


Kaua‘i County budget starts at $243M. Mayor Derek Kawakami and his administration proposed a $243 million operating budget and $24.3 million capital improvement projects budget last week that proposes no layoffs or furloughs for county employees and no tax raises for residents. Garden Island.

Median cost of Kaua‘i home nearly $1M. Milo Spindt, a broker-in-charge and in property management at Elite Pacific, said the median sales price for a residential home on Kaua‘i was $975,000 in February, compared to $802,500 the same month last year, an increase of 21.5%. Garden Island.

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