Friday, January 14, 2022

Schatz tests positive for COVID, tests lost, delayed, denied as program falters across the islands, Maui mayor recall effort fails, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in video chat

Sen. Brian Schatz tests positive for COVID-19. He is the second member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation to contract COVID-19. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Now.

Health Regulators Want Budget Boost Amid Covid, Drinking Water Crises. The Hawaii Department of Health wants taxpayers to fund more than 20 new full-time employees to address long-standing staffing shortages and pay more than $23 million to fix infrastructure inadequacies as the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain the agency. Civil Beat.

DOE Officials Preview Budget Priorities To Hawaii Lawmakers. The interim superintendent, meanwhile, apologized for the recent failure of dozens of schools to report the number of Covid cases as required by law. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

State librarian asks for $1M security boost against COVID pandemic crime wave.
The state librarian, Stacey Aldrich, said the COVID pandemic has led to disturbing behavior at several public libraries across the state. KHON2.

Will This Bureaucratic Tug Of War Over Hawaii’s Ag Lands Finally End? Ranchers are fed up with two decades of waiting for the departments of Agriculture and Land and Natural Resources to sort out legally mandated land transfers. Civil Beat.

Annual Statewide Count Of Hawaii’s Homeless Population Postponed. The 2022 Point-in-Time count of homeless people in Hawaii, which had been slated for Jan. 27, was delayed to March 10 in response to an uptick of Covid-19 cases within the last few weeks. Civil Beat.

Omicron surge compounding some grocery store shortages. For stores in Hawaii, where new daily COVID-19 cases counts have climbed with the spread of the omicron variant, goods are generally available — but some aisles are punctuated by bits of bare shelving. Star-Advertiser.

FEMA assists hundreds of Hawaii families with funeral costs.
Those who lost a loved one to COVID-19 could still be eligible for federal financial assistance of up to $9,000 for funeral expenses incurred on or after Jan. 20, 2020. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii records 4 new coronavirus-related deaths, 3,392 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 2,443 new cases on Oahu, 162 on Hawaii Island, 522 on Maui, 201 on Kauai, 16 on Molokai, seven on Lanai and 41 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Staff shortages force Diagnostic Laboratory Services to close some COVID-19 testing sites. DLS, which describes itself as the largest, locally owned clinical testing laboratory in Hawaii, has temporarily closed at least half a dozen sites, including locations in Hawaii Kai, Wahiawa, Ewa and the Queens Physicians Office Building II on Lusitana Street. Star-Advertiser.

COVID cases surge at Oahu correctional facilities with positivity rates reaching 25%. The state Department of Public Safety said 45 inmates and one staff member tested positive on Thursday at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. Hawaii News Now.

Former council members expect to be witnesses against indicted ex-city officials.
Former Honolulu City Council members say they’re not surprised that prosecutors indicted three ex-city executives for their roles in the payoff of the ex-police chief in 2017. Hawaii News Now.

City wants public opinion on how to spend millions in federal dollars. The city wants the public to weigh in on how it should spend the $386 million awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act. Star-Advertiser.

Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs breaks ground at University of Hawaii Manoa. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Thursday on a new extension of the school’s campus where a $70 million complex is to be developed with dorms and education space for students pursuing entrepreneurship. Star-Advertiser. KHON2. KITV4.

Citizens’ group to file lawsuit against Navy to ensure safe defueling process. A new citizens’ group is preparing a lawsuit against the Navy over its Red Hill fuel storage facility. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers: Red Hill Fuel Leaked Into Well Through A Pipeline Navy Didn’t Know Existed
. Navy officials didn’t know about the pipeline until someone reviewed the facility’s schematics from 1941, lawmakers who took a tour said they were told. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Beach rescue tubes installed to prevent Kailua drownings. Residents say the sea appears deceptively safe, but rip currents lurk beneath the surface and can pull a swimmer out. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Lost in transit: More than 400 COVID test swabs deemed ‘invalid,’ retesting urged. Hundreds of people who waited hours in line for a COVID test Friday at Old Kona Airport Park learned Thursday that those tests were lost in transit. Some 407 individuals tested on Jan. 7 by the Hawaii County-contracted TrueCare24 received the letter via email informing them of “frustrating news” about testing conducted at the county park last week. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now.

Big Island Hele-On will come to temporary stop Sunday for employee disability training. The Big Island’s Hele-On bus and paratransit services will not be operating on Sunday, Jan. 23 due to training. KHON2.

Rooftop solar systems up 5.3% statewide. The number of solar rooftop systems increased 4.35% last year on the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.


Maui mayor recall attempt fails due to insufficient signatures. The recall effort needed to gather 21,586 signatures, which is equivalent to 20% of the 107,930 registered voters in Maui County during the 2020 general election. But in two attempts, the group known as brought in a total of 1,677 valid signatures. Associated Press. Maui News.

Keawakapu parking update: BLNR decision expected Friday. The future of public beach parking at Keawakapu in South Maui surfaces for consideration before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday. Maui Now.

DLNR Aerial assessment of MolokaŹ»i axis deer illustrates extent of overpopulation. New aerial footage of MolokaŹ»i shows just how extensive the axis deer population has gotten, and the threats that it is posing to agriculture and forested lands.  Maui Now. KITV4. Star-Advertiser.


COVID-19 testing options limited throughout island. Finding testing island-wide has been a challenge with reports of people waiting in line for up to four hours at some testing sites. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Project for access to Hideaways moves forward. Public access of the trail to Kenomene (Hideaways) Beach is on its way to officially being conveyed to the county. Thursday, the Open Spaces Commission recommended authorization of up to $1.5 million to make the trail safer and more accessible, in addition to recommending purchasing of the easement. Garden Island.

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