Thursday, April 1, 2021

$30M worth of COVID test kits go to waste, Maui church refuses to stop in-person services amid virus cluster, statewide cases continue steady increase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash
COVID-19 test Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Some $30 million worth of COVID-19 test kits purchased by the state have expired as they sat in storage, despite at least one county request to use them. The state Health Department said it is working to get federal approval for an extension to use the 672,000 kits, but that could be a lengthy process. Hawaii News Now.

Despite uptick in new cases, governor says he’s not considering tighter restrictions. He said while people seem to be less careful, he’s monitoring the numbers and isn’t clamping down on restrictions for now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaii Supreme Court May Lift COVID-19 Order To Free Inmates Without Bail. The order was designed to reduce jail populations and limit the spread of COVID-19, but infections in jails have stabilized, the court says. Civil Beat.

New Sunshine Rules Would Require Requests For Some In-Person Meetings. Senate Bill 1034 would still allow for physical meetings, but there are worries that one provision in the bill could limit meeting access to some individuals. Civil Beat.

Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Could Bring Billions To Hawaii. The president will unveil his American Jobs Plan, which has the potential to infuse huge sums of money into the islands’ transportation and energy infrastructure. Civil Beat.

Biden Plan To Conserve More Ocean Habitat Worries Hawaii Fishing Interests. Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council wants to know exactly what defines “conservation” under the Biden 30 by 30 plan — and whether it would lead to more no-fish zones such as the one within the largest conservation area on earth: the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which encompasses the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Civil Beat.

Local entrepreneur Cecil Morton to start ride-hailing company, Holoholo. Cecil Morton, who has been in the tourism transportation business in Hawaii for 20 years on four islands as owner of SpeediShuttle, is launching driver recruitment for holoholo today at Star-Advertiser.

Local Community Health Centers Receive $32M From Stimulus Bill
. Fourteen community health centers throughout the islands are receiving about $32 million from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the latest federal COVID-19 stimulus bill. Hawaii Public Radio.

More cases slipping through cracks of travel program. The report, which has not been peer reviewed, said that seven out of 1,000 travelers who bypass quarantine via Hawaii’s Safe Travels program probably have COVID-19. State officials had said that fewer than one out of 1,000 travelers using the pre-testing plan would likely bring the illness. Maui News.

DOH Reports Greater Vaccine Supply. The Hawai‘i Department of Health is asking its District Health Offices on the neighbor islands to expand vaccine eligibility as needed to ensure all available vaccination slots are filled. Maui Now.

March 31, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 100 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Wednesday, including 42 on O‘ahu, 30 on Maui, 16 on Hawai‘i Island, one on Kaua‘i, one on Lāna‘i, and 10 in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.


Building industry workers say drastic changes needed at city department after bribery charges. Three city workers accused of accepting bribes to speed up the permitting process made their first appearance in federal court on Wednesday, March 31. KHON2. Star-Advertiser.

Homeowner says former DPP employee arrested by FBI delayed his permits back in 2015. Ian Lind said the FBI’s investigation of the DPP has its roots in his “frustrating” experience with Inouye and the permitting process. He believes he’s one of many homeowners who was allegedly shaken down by DPP officials. Hawaii News Now.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands gets Ewa Beach land for homesteads. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has told the federal government it will accept an 80-acre parcel in Ewa Beach that the state agency plans to eventually redevelop to provide homesteads for Native Hawaiians, many of whom have waited years for such offerings. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

More Oahu homeless residents dying from meth overdoses. On average, every three days a homeless resident dies on Oahu's streets. Many of those sudden deaths are being blamed on meth, and so are the chronic conditions killing off this vulnerable population. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Hawai´i County Official Positive For COVID-19, Contact Tracing to Begin ‘Promptly’. Contact tracing has begun among the ranks of the Hawai´i County Mayor’s Office following a county official testing positive for COVID-19.  Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Roth wants Van Pernis off Leeward Planning Commission. Mayor Mitch Roth wants to oust Mark Van Pernis from the powerful Leeward Planning Commission, in what could be an unprecedented action that is, however, within the authority of the mayor and County Council as defined by the county charter. West Hawaii Today.

‘A WALL OF WATER’: Survivors reflect on devastating tsunami that struck Hilo 75 years ago. The early morning of April 1, 1946, seemed at first to be the start of a normal Monday for residents of Hilo and surrounding villages. Tribune-Herald.

HTA’s Big Island action plan embraces ‘regenerative tourism’. A new plan for tourism on the Big Island highlights the potential for using sustainable tourism to preserve and improve management of resources on the island. Tribune-Herald.

Miloliʻi Vaccinations Push Hawaiian Fishing Village Toward Herd Immunity. The old Hawaiian fishing village of Miloliʻi on Hawaiʻi Island is on its way to achieving herd immunity against COVID-19. Hawaii Public Radio.


King’s Cathedral is rejecting health officials’ advice and planning Easter services with COVID-19 precautions. The state Department of Health on Wednesday took the unusual step of naming King’s Cathedral as the source of an “imminent health threat” posed by a large coronavirus cluster numbering more than 50 cases, with the infected ranging in age from 10 to 77. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

More than Half of New COVID-19 Cases on Maui are Variants. Health officials say more than half of the COVID-19 cases on Maui at this point, as identified through weekly reports, are represented by “variants of concern,” B.1.429 and B.1.427. Maui Now.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino proposes vaccination passport, additional coronavirus testing on arrival. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is proposing changes to Hawaii’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, including a pilot “vaccination passport” program and mandatory rapid testing at Kahului Airport for arriving passengers. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. KHON2.

Man gets 10 days in jail for violating emergency rules. A judge told a man to “start paying attention, follow the rules,” as he was sentenced to 10 days in jail for twice violating emergency rules by not wearing a face mask. Maui News.


Discount Cards for Kaua‘i Visitors Who Take 2nd COVID-19 Test After Arrival. Kauai visitors will receive a discount card for local businesses if they voluntarily take a second coronavirus test three days after arrival, in addition to the required test before travel. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kauai Wants To Reopen Beaches. That Could Put Homeless Back On The Streets. The county’s shelter-in-place program granted some homeless people a measure of stability. Now that it’s over, they say they have nowhere to go. Civil Beat. Garden Island.

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