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Hirono, Ige, Public Health, and Emergency Response Experts Raise Awareness, Call for Funding To Fight Zika

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Governor David Ige, Hawaii Director of Health Dr. Virginia Pressler, State Administrator of Emergency Management Vern Miyagi, Healthcare Association of Hawaii emergency responders, and Dr. Elliot Parks, CEO of Hawaii Biotech today called for increased public awareness and additional federal resources to prepare for and fight the Zika virus in Hawaii and across the country. Senator Hirono and Governor Ige also got a firsthand look at Hawaii Biotech’s work to develop a Zika vaccine.

Senator Hirono and Governor Ige get a firsthand look at Hawaii Biotech’s work in developing a Zika virus vaccine.

Senator Hirono and Governor Ige get a firsthand look at Hawaii Biotech’s work in developing a Zika virus vaccine.

“As Hawaii continues to recover from the recent dengue fever outbreak, we must act before the Zika virus poses a major threat to Hawaii families,” said Senator Hirono. “Bringing together Governor Ige and Zika experts today underscored that we must ensure first responders, state and county governments, and pioneering scientists like Dr. Parks have the necessary resources to face Zika head on. Stopping a widespread U.S. Zika outbreak requires a comprehensive approach and that’s why I’ll continue to push for action on the President’s emergency funding request to fund vector control, education programs, and vaccine development in Hawaii.”

“We all have a stake in preventing the Zika virus and other mosquito borne illnesses from taking hold in Hawaii. We must continue our collaboration and coordinated statewide fight against these illnesses, and with much needed support from the federal government, we will work to reduce the risks here in Hawaii and across the country,” said Governor David Ige.

“Although Zika is not currently circulating in Hawaii and there have been no locally-acquired cases, the mosquitoes that can transmit Zika – the same species that transmit dengue fever and chikungunya – are found in Hawaii, so the virus could be brought into our state by an infected traveler if precautions are not taken,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler, Hawaii State Department of Health. “All of the cases identified here have been travel-related and infected while outside of Hawaii, and the risk of imported cases increases as we head into warmer summer months and peak travel season. It is crucial for infected individuals to avoid mosquito exposure for three weeks upon their return home. The Department of Health aggressively investigates all reported cases of Zika to reduce the possibility of the disease spreading in our state.”

“We thank Senator Hirono for highlighting the dangerous potential for a Zika outbreak in Hawaii. The recent fight against Dengue has prepared us for Zika however we must continue our efforts to eliminate the mosquito vector. County, state, and Federal agencies can provide support and guidance, but success can only come as the result of a strong and sustained community effort to eliminate the mosquito vector and its breeding grounds,” said State Administrator of Emergency Management Vern Miyagi.

“It’s important for Hawaii to prepare now in order to prevent or minimize a Zika outbreak,” said Chris Crabtree, Interim Director of Emergency Services, Healthcare Association of Hawaii Emergency Services. “HAH Emergency Services has been supporting the efforts of the state and community partners during the dengue outbreak, and is prepared to do the same for future outbreaks of any infectious disease including Zika. Active preparation can prevent or reduce the health impact of disease outbreaks and increase the safety of our residents and visitors. We support any increase in aid to fight Zika.”

“We strongly support Senator Hirono’s call for the Federal government’s leadership in the battle against the Zika virus. Hawaii Biotech is working diligently to rapidly develop a safe and effective vaccine to protect all of us from this dangerous virus,” said Dr. Elliot Parks, CEO of Hawaii Biotech, Inc.

For nearly three months, Congressional Republicans have failed to respond to the President’s emergency funding request, even though the virus continues to spread from South America. In Hawaii, there are nine confirmed cases of Zika since 2015, which includes a case of an infected infant born with microcephaly, a serious birth defect directly linked to Zika. On Friday, the first U.S. death caused by Zika was reported in Puerto Rico.

Senator Hirono is an original cosponsor of federal legislation that would fund the President’s emergency request to provide resources for education and outreach programs, shore up Hawaii health care workers’ response to Zika, increase Hawaii vector control programs, and support the work of companies like Hawaii Biotech, which is racing to develop a Zika vaccine.

Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management Understaffed and Overworked – Appliances Stack Up

The recent Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island of Hawaii has had everyone on edge the last few months and both State and County officials have had their hands full dealing with this outbreak.  Thousands and thousands of tires have been disposed of since the county started accepting tires at the transfer stations.

Folks have been noticing that the Hilo Transfer station in general has had a lot of e-waste and appliances stacking up.

Appliances at the Hilo Landfill on 4/30/2016.

Appliances at the Hilo Landfill on 4/30/2016.

Recently Doug Arnott, from Arnott’s Lodge in Hilo, asked the following question in the Facebook Group Opala in Paradise to Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, Head of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Environmental Management:

Bobby Jean Leithead Todd can you give us an update on the ever growing pile of refrigerators and stoves at the Hilo Station…it seems that a good economy is causing old units to be dumped faster than they can be removed….or is this related to refrigerant removal or a slowdown in scrap metal buying by China…can we get an update please

Leithead-Todd responded:

We’ve had to pull manpower and equipment away to deal with tires and other dengue related clean ups. Earlier we had it pile up as we had a contract dispute and we could not move them until the contract issue was resolved at the state level. Now we are moving the white goods out but they seem to be coming back in as fast as we dispose of them. We hope to get ahead of it after we stop accepting tires.

Hawaii Judiciary Celebrates Law Day Across the State

The Hawaii State Judiciary will host a variety of activities for Law Day, the annual celebration of the role of law, the legal process, and the courts in our democratic society.

The theme of Law Day 2016 is, “Miranda: More than Words,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of America’s best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases, Miranda v. Arizona.  Through the “Miranda” theme, Law Day will explore the procedural protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty.

Supreme Court Law Library staff members Chelsea DeMott and Jason Weekley are pictured above with the Library’s “Law Day 2016: Miranda More Than Words” display that provides an overview of the historical significance of the Miranda case in the United States, along with basic information on Miranda rights.

Supreme Court Law Library staff members Chelsea DeMott and Jason Weekley are pictured above with the Library’s “Law Day 2016: Miranda More Than Words” display that provides an overview of the historical significance of the Miranda case in the United States, along with basic information on Miranda rights.

Across the islands, the Judiciary will sponsor special events and activities during the first week of May.

As part of the Judiciary’s Access to Justice Initiative, volunteer attorneys and AmeriCorps Advocates at courthouse Self-Help Centers will provide limited legal information to members of the public, free of charge.  At Oahu’s Access to Justice Rooms, volunteer attorneys will also provide limited legal advice.  For Self-Help Center locations, days and times, visit the Hawaii State Judiciary website at:  http://bit.ly/23bEaXX

FIRST CIRCUIT (Oahu)

The Supreme Court Law Library will have an educational display for the public on the historical significance of the Miranda case, basic information on Miranda rights, and the influence of the Miranda case in the media and popular culture.

The Supreme Court Law Library, located at Aliiolani Hale, 417 South King Street, Honolulu, 96813, is open Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. Staff is available to provide information services and hand-outs on accessing legal resources.

SECOND CIRCUIT (Maui)

In the days leading up to Law Week, approximately 180 students have visited courts throughout the Second Circuit, observing court proceedings and meeting with judges.  Schools or individual students wishing to arrange a student tour of their local courthouse should contact the court at: (808) 244-2860.  Judges are also available to visit schools to discuss the law and the role of the courts in our society.

During the month of May there will be an educational display at the Second Circuit Court (Hoapili Hale, 2145 Main Street, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793-1679) concerning the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the rights of victims and witnesses, Access to Justice, and the different courts in the Second Circuit.

On May 5, 2016, a County of Maui Proclamation recognizing the Drug Courts and Veterans Court will be presented by Maui County Managing Director Keith Regan on behalf of Mayor Arakawa as part of the 55th Graduation Ceremony of the Maui / Molokai Drug Court.

THIRD CIRCUIT (Big Island)

Student tours have been arranged throughout the Third Circuit so students have the opportunity to observe court proceedings and meet with judges.

FIFTH CIRCUIT (Kauai)

Legal Aid Managing Attorney Linda Vass will provide a special 90-minute presentation on “Landlord/Tenant:  Basic Laws for Landlords & Tenants,” on May 2, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Kauai Judicial Complex (Puuhonoa Kaulike Building, 3970 Kaana Street, Lihue, 96766) First Floor, Multi-Purpose Room.  This event is free and open to the public.

On May 6, 2016, the courthouse Self-Help Center will open for extended hours, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., with volunteer attorneys providing free legal information to the public.  Walk-in appointments will be taken on a first come, first served basis.  For more information call (808) 482-2660.

Tours of the Kauai Judicial Complex will be available for schools and interested members of the public.  Tour arrangements may be made by calling (808) 482-2347.

Finally, a number of educational displays will be posted at the Kauai Judicial Complex.  The Adult Client Probation Service will have a display on the HOPE Probation Program, along with the Juvenile Client and Family Service Branch displays on Girls Court and the Kauai Drug Court.  The educational displays will feature program highlights and provide free program literature.

Milestone Reached in Hawai‘i Island Dengue Fever Outbreak

With no reports of recent incidences of locally acquired dengue fever in 30 days, the state and County of Hawai‘i announced a significant milestone in the Hawai‘i Island outbreak that began in October. While the outbreak seems to have come to a halt, Gov. David Ige, along with other state and local officials caution the public not to let their guard down in the fight against mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit.

Mosquito Bite

The state and Hawai‘i County are standing down certain emergency response activities related to the dengue fever outbreak after 30 days of no new locally acquired cases. This decision rests on the fact that three periods of the maximum human incubation period of ten days have passed. The final day of the infectious period for the last reported case was March 27. However, as per routine operations, the Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) continues to immediately investigate all travel related cases and conduct mosquito assessments and/or treatment of potential areas of mosquito exposure.

“This milestone could not have been reached without the diligent efforts and teamwork by the Department of Health and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency,” said Gov. Ige. “While this outbreak seems to be ending, our statewide response to mosquito-borne diseases must continue. We must remain vigilant in our mosquito prevention and abatement practices, be ready to respond to the Zika virus, and continue working together as a state to ‘Fight the Bite.’”

Since Oct. 28, 2015, DOH and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency (HCCDA) have been actively investigating and responding to locally-acquired cases of dengue fever on Hawai‘i Island. Dengue is not endemic to Hawai‘i, but it is intermittently imported from endemic areas by infected travelers. As of April 27, 2016, 264 cases of locally-acquired dengue fever have been confirmed on Hawai‘i  Island with illnesses occurring as early as Sept. 11, 2015.

“By no means are we out of the clear,” said Darryl Oliveira, administrator of the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency. “Cooperation and collaboration between the state and county have been exemplary but we continue to identify actions and efforts that we can improve on in the future. We appreciate the tremendous initiative shown by the community in assisting with mosquito abatement and encourage everyone to continue taking proactive measures around their homes and neighborhoods to keep our state safe.”

Over the course of the outbreak, DOH’s Vector Control team surveyed a total of 523 private properties and 310 public spaces. Of that count, 220 private properties and 65 public spaces were sprayed and/or treated for mosquitoes. A total of more than 1,900 reported potential cases were evaluated and/or tested by DOH disease investigators and State Laboratories Division staff.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler added, “The fight against mosquitoes is far from over and we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our communities from the risk of mosquito borne diseases. We continue to receive and investigate reports of travel-related suspect cases of dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya on all islands. As Zika continues to spread rapidly overseas, we must take precautionary measures to prevent any locally acquired cases from taking hold in our state.”

“Knowing the dengue fever outbreak has been halted is welcome news for Hawaii’s tourism industry, especially for the travel partners, employees and residents who rely on its continued success,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Travelers considering a visit to the Hawaiian Islands in the coming months can make their plans with confidence and without the hesitation that dengue may have been causing them.”

On April 11, Gov. Ige signed a supplemental proclamation to extend the state’s emergency period for mosquito borne illnesses. Under the extended emergency proclamation, DOH and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), with input from county partners, will continue ongoing efforts to develop a comprehensive response plan detailing appropriate actions and measures dependent on the state’s current risk associated with mosquito borne diseases. A statewide public awareness and education campaign will kick off this year to ensure people understand the risks of mosquito-borne diseases and how to best prevent these illnesses in Hawai‘i.

Pregnant women need to take special precautions against the Zika virus and should avoid travel to areas where Zika is actively circulating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that Zika can cause microcephaly in newborns, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with other babies of the same sex and age. CDC has also confirmed that Zika can be spread from an infected man to his sexual partners. It is still unknown how long the virus can be spread in this way after the infected male’s symptoms have cleared.

For additional information about Zika virus and precautions, visit DOH’s Disease Outbreak Control Division’s website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/zika_virus/. For travel information and advisories, visit CDC’s website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

Puna Geothermal Warning System TEST TODAY

The Puna Geothermal Venture plant will be conducting a test of their facility emergency warning system to include the sounding of the drill rig warning siren today, Wednesday April 27th at approximately 11:30 a.m.

PGV

This is only a test that is necessary to ensure the proper working order and function of their warning system.

Residents in the immediate area and communities of Leilani Estates, Nanawale Estates, and the upper Kapoho and Pohoiki areas may hear the siren and we apologize for any disruption or inconvenience this may cause.

Again, this is a test of the facility’s emergency warning systems and no action is needed.

Update on Response Activities for Big Island Dengue Fever Outbreak – Health Department Daily Web Site Updates End

The State Health Department is no longer updating their website as of 4/26/2016

The State Health Department is no longer updating their website as of 4/26/2016

What: The State and County will announce the status of the Hawai‘i Island dengue fever outbreak and a new phase of response activities

Who:             

  • Governor David Ige
  • Mayor Billy Kenoi, County of Hawai‘i
  • Darryl Oliveira, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Administrator
  • Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of Health
  • Maj. Gen. Arthur “Joe” Logan, State Adjutant General and Director of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • George Szigeti, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority President & CEO

When: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. 

Where: State Capitol, 5th floor, Governor’s Ceremonial Room

We plan to live stream the event through the governor’s website.

End of Dengue

Hawaii Electric Light Conducting Aerial Line Inspections

To improve system reliability, Hawaii Electric Light Company is conducting aerial line inspections of its major overhead transmission lines from Tuesday, April 26, to Friday, April 29, 2016.

Helicopter Line Inspection

The islandwide inspections are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. However, exact times and routes will depend on weather conditions. Inspections will be conducted in a Manuiwa Airways helicopter and require the aircraft to fly low and slow which may cause some noise disturbances.

Hawaii Electric Light apologizes for any disruptions this may cause and sincerely thanks the community for their cooperation and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.

EPA Cites Honolulu Wood Treating for Producing and Selling Mislabeled Pesticide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Honolulu Wood Treating of Kapolei, Oahu, which will pay a $33,750 penalty for producing and selling a mislabeled pesticide on five occasions in 2013 and 2014 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Honolulu Wood TreatmentThe Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducted inspections for EPA at the company’s facility in 2014 and 2015 and referred this case to EPA for follow-up enforcement. During the inspections, the Department found that Clear-Bor F.T., a product used to protect wood from termites and wood decay fungus, did not meet federal label requirements. Specifically, the first aid information and EPA Establishment number were incorrect. The company has since fully corrected the product label.

“Mislabeled pesticides put people at risk,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Every company must ensure its products are properly labeled to protect the health and safety of those who use them.”

EPA requires companies to revise the first aid statements on their pesticide product labels to include medically up-to-date language. The instructions on the non-compliant containers of Clear-Bor F.T. would  have likely interfered with proper medical treatment, as the label instructed the user to “induce vomiting by touching back of throat with finger” in case of ingestion. Current medical first aid instructions no longer recommend inducing vomiting.

The required EPA Establishment number was also found to be incorrect for the product.  This number is used to identify where the product was last produced. It is crucial to maintaining product integrity, as production includes formulating, packaging, labeling and any alteration of the product prior to sale.

For more information about the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act

Hawaii House and Senate Budget Conferees Agree on Funding to Increase Vector Control Staffing – Concern for Dengue and Zika Drives Need

House and Senate conferees on the state budget today agreed to provide $1,270,120 to bolster the state Department of Health Vector Control Branch to focus on controlling populations of animals and insects that spread disease.

Mosquito Bite

Hawaii Island’s recent outbreak of dengue fever and the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, which are spread by mosquitoes, have highlighted the continued importance of vector control, and House and Senate conferees want to ensure that the state is prepared to adequately short circuit, monitor and respond to any future outbreaks.

“This funding will help re-establish the vector control branch, which has been reduced over the past few years by furloughs and budget cuts,” said Sylvia Luke, chairperson of the House Finance Committee.  “In making these appropriations, the department will be able to add 20 new positions to monitor populations of vectors such as mosquitoes and rats, and to respond appropriately when a threat arises.”

Before the dengue fever outbreak in October, 2015, the state had 25 vector control positions, but 8 were vacant. With the added 20 new positions, there will be a total of 45 people in vector control when all positions are filled.

“Infectious disease has been and will continue to be one of our key challenges in a world made smaller and more connected with modern day air travel,” said Jill Tokuda, chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  “The state’s recent slow response to the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island was a wake-up call for all us.  We must be more vigilant in anticipating and responding to such outbreaks spread by mosquitoes and other vectors.”

In addition, the budget items agreed upon today included:

  • $6.9 million for public school transportation services;
  • $5.2 million for utilities for public schools;
  • $2.5 million for new fire trucks, firefighter equipment and fire retardant suits to ensure airport safety;
  • $1.5 million to fund a U.S. geographical survey study on Hawaii streams;
  • $1.4 million for port security and safety boats to reduce impact of natural disasters;
  • $1.25 million for maintenance and replacement of equipment at UH community colleges;
  • $400,000 to support beach restoration and protection projects and studies;
  • $180,000 for hydrologist and project development specialist positions for public land management for the disposition of water rights lease management and oversight; and
  • $162,354 for physician salary increases for better access to medical services for the Department of Public Safety.

The agreements were part of House and Senate conferees continued negotiations on a final version of HB1700, the state budget bill.  Earlier in the session, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee crafted their respective versions of the budget.

Lawmakers will continue to meet to iron out differences between the two versions through April 29, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee.  A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Budget worksheets detailing agreements and disagreements in the state and judiciary budget bills are available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/budget/2016budget.aspx

The conference committee is scheduled to reconvene on Friday, April 22, at 2:30 p.m. in room 309.

Another Check of Mauna Loa Summit Towers – Steam Sources Noted in Usual Locations

Mauna Loa’s summit was cold and clear this morning while HVO scientists performed maintenance on the summit thermal camera and two seismic stations.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

A few faint steam sources were noted in the usual locations on the caldera floor.

HVO Lava Update – Scattered Breakouts Northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō… No Overall Advancement

Scattered breakouts northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō… No overall advancement

hvo413aSurface breakouts remain scattered northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, with a slight retreat in the reach of active breakouts since the last overflight on March 25.

One of the more vigorous breakouts on the flow field today, producing a sheet of blue-glassy pāhoehoe.

One of the more vigorous breakouts on the flow field today, producing a sheet of blue-glassy pāhoehoe.

Today, the farthest active lava was 5.7 km (3.5 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Views were hampered today by sporadic downpours. Once the rain passed, areas of active breakouts were evident by the larger steam plumes coming from the surface (for example, at the top center of the photograph).

Views were hampered today by sporadic downpours. Once the rain passed, areas of active breakouts were evident by the larger steam plumes coming from the surface (for example, at the top center of the photograph).

Much of the activity was at the forest boundary, burning trees and creating numerous smoke plumes.

One benefit of passing showers today at Kīlauea’s summit was a double rainbow.

Click to enlarge

View of Halemaʻumaʻu plume from HVO . Click to enlarge

Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is at the right side of the photo, and the gas plume from the active lava lake can be seen drifting towards the southwest. At the far right edge of the image, visitors take in the view at Jaggar Overlook.

Hawaii State Department of Health’s Restaurant Inspection Website Goes Live

The Hawaii State Department of Health has launched a new online portal that lets consumers see how Hawaii restaurants and other food service organizations fare in food safety inspections, starting first with Oahu inspection data.

As of 4/11/2016, I was not able to access the site.

Access to data from food safety inspection reports, complete with descriptions of violations, gives consumers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at food safety and sanitation practices — or a lack of them — at the food outlets they frequent.

“We’re taking transparency to an entirely new level,” said Peter Oshiro, who manages the food safety inspection program. “Information from the inspection reports empowers consumers and informs their choices.”

The online portal, which has taken nearly a year to develop and refine, is a companion component to the Hawaii State Department of Health’s placard program, which was launched in July 2014. Under the placard program, food outlets are given a green, yellow or red placards, and are required to post them in visible location at their entrances.

The color-coded placards indicate whether a food establishment has passed its health inspection, received a conditional pass, or has been closed due to permit suspension. Restaurants are fined for not posting them.

“Data from the inspection reports give consumers the details behind the green, yellow or red placards, which many have become accustomed to seeing near the entrances of restaurants or other places that serve food,” Oshiro said.

“Our observant inspectors are capturing every detail for their reports using established science-based criteria,” he added. “With this degree of disclosure, we believe the online reports will make restaurants and other food service organizations pay closer attention to their food safety and sanitation practices.”

Just as the publicly-posted placards provide an incentive for restaurants and other food service organizations to rectify any food-handling or other safety issues, the publicly-available data from the inspection reports are expected to motivate restaurants to take a closer look at their own practices since these reports become a permanent, historical record accessible to the public.

“About 25 percent of the locations we inspect receive a yellow card. We hope to see this rate steadily decline with this new website,” Oshiro said. “We can now show what a bad inspection looks like on a public site. This should be a great catalyst for the industry to improve their food safety practices and make internal quality control a priority before our inspections.”

Oshiro’s team has manually posted all of the previous Oahu inspections to the public portal and currently has nearly 7,000 inspection reports in the database. This represents about 80 percent of all the inspections completed statewide since the program began in July 2014. Oshiro anticipates the remaining Oahu inspection reports will be uploaded by May 2016. Past neighbor island inspections will be uploaded by the end of the year. Going forward, all inspection reports from all islands will be posted in near real-time, depending upon the availability of secure, wireless access.

More than 10,000 food establishments statewide prepare or serve food and require a Department of Health permit to operate their business. There are roughly 6,000 such establishments on Oahu, 1,800 on Hawaii Island, 1,700 on Maui, and 700 on Kauai. This includes restaurants, hotels, caterers, food warehouses, markets, convenience stores, lunch wagons, push carts, and institutional kitchens for healthcare facilities, schools, adult and child day care centers, and prisons.

The Hawaii State Department of Health began posting color-coded placards as part of the state’s “Food Safety Code” (Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Chapter 50, Food Safety Code) adopted in 2014. The placards are posted after each health inspection is completed at every food establishment that holds a Department of Health permit.

The Hawaii restaurant inspection website is at http://hi.healthinspections.us/hawaii.

Senator Schatz Visits CDC Headquarters, Meets with Top Official to Discuss Zika, Dengue Response in Hawaii

As the outbreaks of Zika and dengue continue to threaten communities in the United States and around the world, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters and met with top officials to discuss the CDC’s response to outbreaks in Hawai‘i.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle

During the meetings, Senator Schatz called for stronger vector-control programs to fight the spread of mosquito-borne viruses. Zika and dengue are transmitted by the same mosquito population, making vector-control programs a key component to preventing outbreaks.

“Dengue remains a public health emergency on Hawai‘i Island, and with new possible Zika cases in the state, we need more support from the CDC to fight these outbreaks,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. “While we continue to secure more funding, I am pleased we were able to get a commitment from the CDC to address dengue and the threat of Zika in Hawai‘i.”

Last month, Senator Schatz led eight senators in calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to increase funding for mosquito-control programs.

During an appropriations hearing in February, Senator Schatz urged the Director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, to coordinate with state and local governments to improve mosquito-control programs to help stop the spread of both dengue and Zika.

Hawai‘i has had over 250 confirmed cases of dengue since September 2015, mostly concentrated on Hawai‘i Island. Like dengue, Zika can be transmitted by mosquitos. Zika has been spreading throughout the Americas and has been linked with neurological ailments such as paralysis and devastating birth defects. The CDC has issued its highest alert level for Zika, while the World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency.

Big Island Dog in Running for American Humane Association Hero Dog Award

A Big Island of Hawaii canine is in the running for a American Humane Association Hero Dog Award.

Arson Dog Kaimi

Arson Dog Kaimi

Kaimi’s handler writes:

As Kaimi’s handler and partner for the last 8 years I have had the privilege to work with such an amazing K9 partner. In 2008 Kaimi became the first Arson K9 in the State of Hawaii and continues to serve the state by fighting the crime of arson statewide. Kaimi has worked hundreds of fires where he has assisted investigators to determine the origin and cause of all types of fires (structure, wildland & vehicles) and has been key in the conviction of arsonists in Hawaii.

In one case Kaimi traced the presence of ignitable liquids from the fire scene to the neighbors residence, where he found the presence of ignitable liquids on the neighbor. After laboratory analysis it was confirmed that the ignitable liquids were all consistent and that the neighbor was guilty of the crime. Kaimi and I travel thousands of miles from Hawaii to the Mainland every year for our annual recertification.

Kaimi also loves children and does numerous public education events & demonstrations to teach children about fire safety and prevention. He has also partnered with organizations to help fight animal hunger in Hawaii County. Kaimi is an amazing partner and one of Hawaii’s Heroes! I humbly ask for your vote!

To vote for Kaimi you can click here (voting begins May 12th, 2016): American Humane Association Hero Dogs: Kaimi

For millions of Americans, animals are not just their best friends, but their heroes. Whether they are lending eyes to the unsighted, ears to the deaf, protection to the sleeping family and the soldier, or providing a welcoming kiss at the end of a hard day, animals affect us in so many different ways. Behind almost every hero pet (and millions more animals) is a hero veterinarian or hero veterinary technician. These often little-known benefactors save and improve the lives of our two- and four-legged best friends in many ways, and the American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards™, presented by Zoetis, honor their achievements.

Pet owners and animal lovers alike are invited to nominate their favorite veterinary professionals who are dedicated to the betterment of the health and welfare of animals and the promotion of the human-animal bond. The winning veterinarian and veterinary technician will be flown to Los Angeles to be honored as part of the fifth annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, which will be taped for a national television broadcast on Hallmark Channel later in the fall. These awards are not limited to companion animal veterinarians. Professionals from all fields of veterinary medicine are eligible for entry including, but not limited to those who work in: research, emergency services, shelters, and those who work with large and exotic animals.

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Announces April Flight Plans

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park announces the following upcoming flight plans for April 2016:

  • April 8, 18, 21, 25 and 28, between 6 a.m. and noon, to shuttle crew, camp supplies, fencing material and equipment to Mauna Loa at about 9,000-ft. elevation.
  • April 8, between 7 a.m. and noon, to shuttle crew and camp supplies between Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) and the northwest area of Kahuku for vegetation monitoring.
  • April 18, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., to shuttle crew to/from the western area of Kahuku around 7,500-ft. elevation for vegetation monitoring.
  • April 19, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. for ungulate surveys and control work in Kahuku between 3,000- and 7,000-ft. elevation.

In addition, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory may conduct flight operations over Kīlauea and Mauna Loa to assess volcanic activity and maintain instrumentation.

crater 4416

The park regrets any noise impact to residents and park visitors. Dates and times are subject to change based on aircraft availability and weather.

Management of the park requires the use of aircraft to monitor and research volcanic activity, conduct search-and-rescue missions and law enforcement operations, support management of natural and cultural resources, and to maintain backcountry facilities.

HFD Incident Report on Today’s Fire in Hilo

Hawaii Fire Department Incident Report: News release for a structure fire on Mililani Street in Hilo today.

Mililani House Fire

Type of Incident: Structure Fire

Situation Found at Scene: First HFD Unit arrived on scene found an unoccupied residential structure fully engulfed in flames.

Cause: Under investigation.

Remarks: HFD Units extinguished an unoccupied residential structure fire. Initially, the fire threatened a residence on Manono Street, but two crews were able to protect that residence by using tactical attack lines. HPD Units provided scene control and setup roadblocks at the Piilani Street/Mililani Street intersection and also at the Hualani Street/Mililani Street intersection.

Hawaii Team Attends National Zika Action Plan Summit Held at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today held a Zika Action Plan Summit, bringing together state and local senior officials to provide them with the information and tools needed to improve Zika preparedness and response within their state and jurisdictions. A delegation of leaders from the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) are attending the summit at CDC Headquarters in Atlanta to share their experiences and learn from their counterparts across the country.

This timely opportunity comes as the state is experiencing an uptick in imported Zika cases, among other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

Attendees were provided with presentations on the latest scientific knowledge about the Zika virus, including effects it can have on pregnant women and best-practices for mosquito control. One of the greatest challenges posed by this disease is that scientists are still learning more about Zika’s symptoms and how the disease can be transmitted.

“The summit provided an excellent opportunity for Hawaii to share our experience and knowledge while learning from other states about specific issues around the science behind Zika. This is especially important for our nation as we head into the summer months, when temperatures will rise and travel into and out of the country will peak,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler.

“It is crucial for Hawaii to have a unified outreach and response plan that is both scalable and flexible, and easily implemented at all levels of government.”

The summit also provided an opportunity to discuss communications challenges and effective strategies for increasing public awareness about Zika virus and precautionary measures that all people should take, especially pregnant women and women planning on becoming pregnant.

microcephaly

Pregnant women need to take special precautions against Zika virus and should avoid travel to areas where Zika is spreading. If a Zika infected mosquito bites a woman that is pregnant or may become pregnant, the Zika virus can be passed to her baby during pregnancy or at the time of birth. Scientists believe the Zika virus may be linked to microcephaly in newborns, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with other babies of the same sex and age.

Scientists also believe that Zika virus can be spread from an infected man to his sexual partners. It is still unknown how long the virus can be spread in this way after the infected male’s symptoms have cleared.

Most people who contract the Zika virus will have mild or no symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika include rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis), but can also include muscle pain and headaches. DOH urges people who are showing symptoms and have a recent history of travel to areas experiencing Zika outbreaks, to see their healthcare provider as soon as possible for testing.

For additional information about Zika virus and precautions, visit DOH’s Disease Outbreak Control Division’s website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/zika_virus/.

For travel information and advisories, visit CDC’s website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

Reply From Hilo Medical Center to Senator Kahele’s Helipad Safety Concerns

Helipad

Dan Brinkman, Regional CEO East Hawaii Region HHSC, replied to Senator Kai Kahele’s letter yesterday about the Senators concerns over the Hilo Medical Center’s Helipad:

Dear Senator Kahele,

Several weeks ago we gave HLF notice that we would not be renewing their MOA with us when it expires in April. We asked HLF to locate its helicopter at HIA instead of the HMC helipad. Among other issues, the repeated failure of HLF to meet its MOA commitments to move its rotor within the agreed upon time parameters……when other rotors needed access, was a significant factor in the non renewal. At the expiration of the MOA, the helicopter will no longer be located on the helipad

As an aside, the East Hawaii Regional Board is the governing body for decisions that directly affect the well being of the East Hawaii community. Both HMC administration and our board welcome your continued input and involvement in improving the health and safety of our constituents.

It is good to be on the same page…
Aloha, Dan

Dan Brinkman
Regional CEO East Hawaii Region HHSC

Commentary – Senator Kahele on Safety Concern of Hilo Medical Center Helipad

On behalf of our constituents within the first senatorial district of Hilo and all of Hawai‘i Island, I am writing to request Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) Board to discontinue its Agreement for Purchase of Goods and Services (APGS) with Hawai‘i Life Flight, Inc. (HLF), signed on April 10, 2013 which allows permanent parking on the helipad of Hilo Medical Center (HMC) and has presented numerous safety of flight issues for other operators in the area.

Helipad

Although the agreement allows HLF to park their aircraft to one side of the helipad and the space meets the minimum requirements to do so – it has still proven, on numerous occasions, to present a safety concern.

The U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area Department of Emergency Services has reported that on two occasions within the past year, several of their Blackhawk Medevac helicopters have been prevented from landing safely during training patrols and other exercises because of HLF’s permanent occupation of the helipad. On October 29, 2015 an emergency transport helicopter arrived at the HMC helipad to find the HLF helicopter still on the helipad. As an HLF employee was securing the aircraft, the Medevac Blackhawk was in its final approach and unfortunately was forced to land with the HLF aircraft only partially secured.  The Engine Company Captain on scene reported a “near miss” incident with both aircraft being on the helipad at the same time.

Additionally, the County of Hawai‘i Fire Department which maintains two helicopters for emergency medical services has reported that on three separate incidents their Chopper 2 aeromedical helicopter has landed at the helipad with the pad being occupied by HLF.

One way to resolve this issue is to keep the helipad vacated and available at all times. This would ensure a safer overall operation.  It is our understanding that the aforementioned APGS is up for renewal on April 10, 2016 and that last fall representatives of the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area met with HHSC’s Board of Directors and raised these safety of flight issues with them.  At that time, there was an indication that HHSC’s board did not intend to renew the agreement.

Because of these safety of flight issues which could have resulted in serious loss of life to patients, crew and bystanders on the ground – as well as loss of necessary medical equipment funded by and provided for the use of our community – we support your efforts to preserve necessary landing space at HMC to allow for a safer environment and improved access.

Thank you for your leadership in keeping the health and safety of our residents HHSC’s top priority and we look forward to working with you towards a positive solution.

Hau‘oli ka mana‘o,

Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele, Senate District 1-Hilo

New Tsunami Forecast Model Animation: Aleutian Islands 1946

On April 1, 1946 at 4:28 am (12:28 UTC), an 8.6 moment magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Unimak Island in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, generating a tsunami that caused the greatest damage and number of deaths in Hawaii’s history, leading to the creation of the United States’ first tsunami warning system.

tsunami warning

As is typical for dangerous tsunamis the greatest wave heights were nearest the epicenter. The waves reached as high as 42 m or about 138 ft. on Unimak Island and destroyed its lighthouse and killed the five people there. Elsewhere this tsunami caused the greatest damage and number of deaths on inhabited Pacific islands. In Hawaii the waves reached about 17 m or 55 ft. high and killed 158 people, most in the town of Hilo, while in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia the waves reached even higher to 20 m or 65 ft but killed only two people. Chile’s Easter Island also got nearly 9 m or 28 ft.while its Juan Fernandez Islands got nearly 3 m or 9 ft. high waves. Pitcairn Island also had 5 m or 16 ft. high waves, New Zealand had over 2 m or 8 ft. high waves, and Samoa had over 1 m or about 4 ft. high waves. In North America the highest waves were in California at over 2 m or over 8 ft. and killed one person there and in South America it killed one more person in Peru.

A tsunami warning system did not exist in 1946 and no one had any warning of the approaching dangerous waves. In response to this event the United States government set up its first tsunami warning operation at the Honolulu Magnetic and Seismic Observatory in 1948 to mitigate tsunami hazards in Hawaii. This facility would later be renamed the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) and expand its mission to include the rest of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Today, 70 years since the Unimak Island Earthquake, PTWC will issue tsunami warnings in minutes after a major earthquake occurs and will also forecast how large any resulting tsunami will be as it is still crossing the ocean. PTWC can also create an animation of a historical tsunami with the same tool that it uses to determine tsunami hazards in real time for any tsunami today: the Real-Time Forecasting of Tsunamis (RIFT) forecast model. The RIFT model takes earthquake information as input and calculates how the waves move through the world’s oceans, predicting their speed, wavelength, and amplitude. This animation shows these values through the simulated motion of the waves and as they travel through the world’s oceans one can also see the distance between successive wave crests (wavelength) as well as their height (half-amplitude) indicated by their color. More importantly, the model also shows what happens when these tsunami waves strike land, the very information that PTWC needs to issue tsunami hazard guidance for impacted coastlines. From the beginning the animation shows all coastlines covered by colored points. These are initially a blue color like the undisturbed ocean to indicate normal sea level, but as the tsunami waves reach them they will change color to represent the height of the waves coming ashore, and often these values are higher than they were in the deeper waters offshore. The color scheme is based on PTWC’s warning criteria, with blue-to-green representing no hazard (less than 30 cm or ~1 ft.), yellow-to-orange indicating low hazard with a stay-off-the-beach recommendation (30 to 100 cm or ~1 to 3 ft.), light red-to-bright red indicating significant hazard requiring evacuation (1 to 3 m or ~3 to 10 ft.), and dark red indicating a severe hazard possibly requiring a second-tier evacuation (greater than 3 m or ~10 ft.).

Toward the end of this simulated 36 hours of activity the wave animation will transition to the “energy map” of a mathematical surface representing the maximum rise in sea-level on the open ocean caused by the tsunami, a pattern that indicates that the kinetic energy of the tsunami was not distributed evenly across the oceans but instead forms a highly directional “beam” such that the tsunami was far more severe in the middle of the “beam” of energy than on its sides. This pattern also generally correlates to the coastal impacts; note how those coastlines directly in the “beam” are hit by larger waves than those to either side of it.

The tsunami evacuation zones for Hawaii and Guam are available at http://tsunami.coast.noaa.gov.