New Online Form to Request Virtual Appointments with County Departments

The County of Hawai‘i announces that a new Appointment Request form is online, and is taking requests for virtual appointments with County Departments.  At this time of COVID-19 emergency, no face-to-face appointments are being taken.

The link to request appointments is:  https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/appointments

The County Departments/Divisions that are taking virtual appointment requests are:

  1. Finance – Real Property Tax Division
  2. Finance – Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division
  3. Finance – All Other 
  4. Parks and Recreation
  5. Planning Department
  6. Public Works – Administration
  7. Public Works – Building Division
  8. Public Works – Engineering Division

Virtual Community Meetings on Proposed Energy Storage Projects

Hawaiian Electric will host virtual community meetings to seek public input on the utility’s five proposed battery energy storage systems (BESS).

The company is proposing two self-build projects on Oahu at Kahe Power Plant and on industrial land near Kalaeloa, one at Waena in Central Maui, and two on Hawaii Island at Keahole Power Plant and Puna Generating Station. The projects made the first round of Hawaiian Electric’s request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy and grid services issued in August 2019.

The virtual community meetings will be held online or televised, featuring a presentation about the island-specific project(s) followed by live interaction between audiences and a host.

Hawaii Island
Wednesday, April 15, 5:00 p.m., Na Leo TV Channel 53. Viewers may email questions to punabess@hawaiianelectric.com or keaholebess@hawaiianelectric.com prior to or during the program.

Maui
Wednesday, April 8, 5:30 p.m., Akaku Community TV Channel 54. Viewers may email questions to mauibess@hawaiianelectric.com and receive live responses during the program.

Oahu
Tuesday, April 14, 6:00 p.m., WebEx live meeting. To join the meeting, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/selfbuildprojects. Scroll to the Oahu projects, Virtual Public Meeting, and click on “Join the Meeting.” Participants can only register the day of the meeting. Viewers also can dial in to 1-408-418-9388 and enter meeting code 965 550 246. Viewer questions can be emailed to kahebess@hawaiianelectric.com or ceipbess@hawaiianelectric.com during the live meeting.

“We know the community is dealing with a lot right now because of the pandemic, and there is uncertainty on how long this will last. If we could postpone these meetings we would,” said Jack Shriver, Hawaiian Electric director of generation project development. “But, these potential projects are under a compressed schedule for permitting and construction. We want to give our communities an early opportunity to provide their feedback on our self-build proposals.”

Shriver added, “Like all developers, Hawaiian Electric’s self-build team must abide by the requirements in the RFP for transparency and community engagement. Our self-build team does not know what other developers are proposing because of the strict code of conduct that prohibits interactions with the team that is evaluating the RFP bids.”

On Hawaii Island, two projects are being proposed, including a 6 MW / 6 MWh BESS in Puna, and a 12 MW / 12 MWh BESS at Keahole Power Plant. Comments on the proposed projects are being accepted until May 15, 2020.

On Maui, the proposed project is a 40 MW / 160 MWh BESS located on 65 acres in Waena near the Central Maui landfill. The project will enable the retirement of Kahului Power Plant in 2024. Comments on the proposed Maui BESS are being accepted through May 8, 2020.

On Oahu, Hawaiian Electric is proposing to build a 135-megawatt (MW) / 810 megawatt-hour (MWh) BESS at Kahe Power Plant and a 65 MW / 390 MWh BESS on industrial land near Kalaeloa. Together, these projects would help support the planned retirement of the 180 MW coal-fired AES power plant, which is due to close in 2022. Comments on the proposed projects are being accepted until May 14, 2020.

Under the Competitive Bidding Framework rules approved by the PUC, Hawaiian Electric may propose self-build projects – developed, constructed and owned by the utility – to meet generation and/or capacity needs across its service territories. To ensure all projects are treated fairly and equitably and will not interact to create problems on the grid, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has chosen independent observers and a technical adviser to oversee the process and proposals. If selected through the RFP process, Hawaiian Electric’s self-build projects would still require PUC approval.

For more information, visit www.hawaiianelectric.com/selfbuildprojects.

HIDOE Seeks to Modify Graduation Requirements Due to COVID-19

The Hawaii State Department of Education is seeking approval from the Board of Education (BOE) to modify high school graduation and commencement requirements under Board Policy 102-15 for the class of 2020. The memo submitted by the Department today seeks flexibility in awarding a diploma or certificate to graduating seniors, based on approval from individual school administrations. There are approximately 10,000 students who are eligible to earn diplomas this year. 

School facilities have been closed to students since March 19, with traditional, in-school instruction temporarily discontinued until at least April 30. Approval of the proposed waiver will provide educator-driven solutions to address the loss of educational content as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. This action will allow class of 2020 graduates to proceed with post-secondary educational and workforce opportunities without unnecessary delays.

The Department also determined it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make a decision by April 15 regarding commencement ceremonies. School, complex area and state teams have started discussing alternative means of celebration in the event traditional ceremonies cannot be held. 

“The decision around celebrating this milestone with our seniors is an emotional one as most students have looked forward to this occasion since they were in elementary school. However, the safety and health of our community is paramount and we are basing our decisions on guidance from health and state officials in the coming weeks,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “Our request to the Board for a one-time policy waiver is a critical step in our efforts to adjust the remainder of the school year for our public and charter schools. Once we receive approval from the Board, we can formally issue guidance for meeting graduation requirements that has been developed.”

Details about the April 2 BOE meeting as well as the memo are posted on the Board’s website.

In addition to graduation requirements, HIDOE’s planning includes its request to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to waive standardized testing and associated accountability and reporting requirements for the 2019-20 school year. This request was approved by the USDOE last week. The public can submit comments until April 10 regarding this waiver through an online survey here. For more information as well as the anticipated impact, click here

All Hawaii DOE employees will continue to work remotely until at least April 30, with the exception of those who are considered essential and must perform their duties at a campus or office, which includes meal prep and distribution at grab-and-go sites. 

Beginning this week, schools started to prepare distance learning opportunities and/or learning packets to be distributed via email, school websites and some in-person. Work packets will not be graded, but many teachers are identifying unique ways to provide feedback to students. The Department has also stood up a resource for parents available at bit.ly/HIDOEVirtualLearningParentResource.

New Funds to Assist UH Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

The University of Hawai‘i Foundation and University of Hawaiʻi have partnered to establish two new funds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help those on our campuses.

“As we adjust to a new reality amid concerns about the novel coronavirus, friends and alumni have been asking us how they can help,” said University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner. “Many of our funders and donors have reached out expressing concern for the welfare of our students. They also want to hear what UH is doing on the research front to participate in the fight against COVID-19.”

Urgent Student Relief Fund

The Urgent Student Relief fund supports students statewide.

In times of emergencies like this, some students at UH’s 10 campuses find themselves in urgent financial distress. The usual pressures of finishing the semester are exacerbated by the pandemic’s pervasive upheaval of routines and constant concern for family and friends.

Financially, many UH students who are already living on a shoestring are even closer to the edge. Students relying on jobs for tuition are being laid off. Others need childcare as schools temporarily closed, access to computers as classes moved online, transportation when living arrangements shift and food when their meals off campus may be in doubt.

“The type of assistance our students need is evolving, but UH is ready to respond,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Hae Okimoto. “Additional resources will support our students to stay on track with their academic journeys so they can help us build the strong economy of tomorrow.”

COVID-19 and Infections and Emerging Diseases Research Fund

UH researchers are working fervently to detect, prevent and cure COVID-19, and other infectious and emerging diseases in the islands and abroad.

Among other efforts, scientists at the John A. Burns School of Medicine are expanding ongoing development of heat-stable vaccines for viruses, to include coronaviruses causing COVID-19. Success means rapid, efficient manufacturing of vaccines with broad application for the general population, including our children and seniors. 

Our experienced UH scientists are also working on the development of processes for rapid screening and surveillance of COVID-19 in the islands and abroad.

Tim Dolan, UH vice president of advancement and UH Foundation CEO said, “Our donors and community want to be part of the global solution. As the nonprofit that raises funds to support UH students and research, we are committed to supporting our community in every way we can. We are all in this together.”

More information is available at the UH Foundation website.

Inmate Population Relief Efforts Underway

No inmates have met PUI (Persons Under Investigation) criteria for COVID-19.

OCCC PC: DPS

Inmate Population Relief Efforts 
The Department of Public Safety is well aware of the risks of over-population and crowding in our jails, especially during this pandemic.  We are taking proactive measures with our criminal justice partners, including the Office of the Attorney General, the Judiciary, County Prosecutors, Office of the Public Defender, and the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority, to find ways to temporarily reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails, while keeping the overall safety of the community our top priority.

Those measures include the following:

1. To assist the Judiciary with their decision-making process, PSD submitted a list of those incarcerated as pre-trial and sentenced misdemeanants as well as those who are incarcerated as felony probationers.

2. The Department of Public Safety has been working with our Judicial partners to implement more video conferencing of arraignment and plea (A&P) proceedings and bail motions.  The video conferencing at OCCC was successfully increased to three days a week. We are looking at possibly expanding to additional days. 
•    Since February 24th there has been a substantial decrease in the jail population.  This is due in part to the huge efforts being made by the Judiciary as they work with PSD to reduce the number of people in our jails.

Jail Population Report:                              
                           24-Feb    27-Mar    Population Decrease    
HCCC                 418     356           62
KCCC                 147     131          16
MCCC                 449     378          71
OCCC                 1231    1024       207
TOTAL              2245     1889       356

3. PSD identified 52 inmates at the Halawa Correctional Facility and 5 at the Women’s Community Correctional Center who will be completing their full sentence between 3/28/20 – 6/30/20.  A list has been sent to the Hawaii Paroling Authority (HPA) for its consideration.   

4. The Hawaii Paroling Authority (HPA) is identifying all cases statewide that are approved for parole and pending a release date set by the HPA chair. HPA is working to expedite the verifications process for their approved release.  

Summary of previous update information issued through March:
•    HPA board suspended all parole hearings for two weeks. Hearings are tentatively scheduled to resume on 4/3/20.  
•    All inmate work furlough passes and Hawaii Correctional Industries (HCI) outside community service work lines are suspended until further notice.
•    All non-essential programming is temporarily suspended.
(Correctional services such as: security, health care, food service, and facility operations/maintenance will continue as scheduled. Essential medical specialist transports, hospital and emergency transports will continue as needed.)
•    Enhanced screening is implemented at entry points, including no-touch temperature checks and verbal health screening questions.
•    Correctional facility entry suspensions include volunteers, non-essential program staff and personal inmate visitors.  (Attorneys and vendors/contractors providing inmate health and safety products and services are still allowed).
•    Increased inmate phone accessibility – Inmates are afforded an unlimited number of pre-paid and collect 15-minute personal phone calls. The personal call duration has been increased to allow up to 30 minutes per call. 
•    Free phone calls – GlobalTel Link (GTL) is providing two, free, five-minute-long calls per week for the next four weeks. 

Health care staff have had continuous, open dialogue with the Department of Health (DOH), and facility staff are being briefed on protocols as the situation changes day-by-day.  

Staff have been reminded to frequently wash their hands and refrain from touching their faces, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended guidelines. Daily emails with the latest COVID-19 information, guidance and recommendations from the CDC and from DOH are being sent to all employees to keep everyone informed.

For more information on PSD’s response to COVID-19 and information detailing the efforts we have made to safeguard the inmates, staff and public, visit our webpage at:
http://dps.hawaii.gov/blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-resources/

Please sign up for PSD alerts and notifications through our AlertSense notification system by going to https://hawaiiPSD.myfreealerts.com.

Residents can download the free AlertSense mobile app for Android and Apple devices, or text their zip code to 38276 to instantly sign up.

The Public Safety Department also encourages everyone to visit the Hawai‘i COVID-19 webpage for resources and the most up-to-date information on the virus at https://HawaiiCovid19.com. You can also get connected through 2-1-1.

COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing in Kona on Saturday, March 28

Ali’i Health, with the support of Premier Medical Group and the County of Hawai`i COVID-19 Task Force, will be conducting a drive-through screening and testing clinic.  The one-day clinic will be held at the Old Kona Airport Park on Saturday, March 28, 2020, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

This clinic is open to the public; however, individuals must first undergo a screening to determine if they meet the criteria to be tested.  Clinic physicians on site will make the determination regarding testing.  The screening criteria will be based on guidance of the CDC and the State’s COVID-19 Response Task Force.

To bypass the screening queue, patients can go to Pathways Telehealth by calling (808) 747-8321 option 5 to be screened and expedite testing. 

People who visit the screening clinic will be asked to show photo ID.  Additionally, people are requested to bring any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required. 

For further information, call Civil Defense at (808) 935-0031.

Partial Road Closure in HVNP

Hawaiian Electric will soon start a six-month project to upgrade transmission poles and equipment in the area of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HVNP).

Work will be done in phases starting April 1, 2020. Crews will replace 189 utility poles and install new equipment along Hawaii Belt Road, or Highway 11, between mile markers 30 and 40. One lane will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

“During this challenging time, we know the community is counting on us to keep the lights on. Continuing to provide safe and reliable power is our priority,” said Kristen Okinaka, spokeswoman for Hawaiian Electric’s operations on Hawaii Island. “Our crews and contractors will practice social distancing on the job and there should be no interaction with the public. It’s part of the critical work that continues, especially in advance of hurricane season, including tree trimming, replacement of equipment, and system resilience work that is difficult to reschedule.”

Once the line construction is completed, the replaced poles will be removed via helicopter. Work is expected to be done by Sept. 30, 2020, weather permitting.

For questions or concerns, please call 969-6666

Hawaiian Electric to Estimate Energy Usage

Hawaiian Electric continues to adjust its operations to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus, including postponing less urgent repair and maintenance work, and closing walk-in customer payment centers at least through April.

None of the operational changes being made will interrupt electric service to customers.

To ensure electric service is not disrupted, Hawaiian Electric is postponing projects and work that would require customer outages, unless it is deemed critical for safety or reliability. Our crews and contractors will continue to perform essential work that involves little interaction with the public, including tree trimming (to reduce potential outages), replacement of equipment, and system resilience work that is difficult to reschedule.

Emergency work, including outage restoration and repairs to ensure public safety such as replacing damaged poles, remains a priority.

Although Hawaiian Electric employees are considered “essential workers,” the company is trying to reduce the numbers in the field to protect the health and safety of employees and the public. Here are some other measures being taken:

  • Until further notice, the company is reducing the number of meter readers sent out across its five-island service territory.

    Bills for residential and some small- to medium-size commercial customers will be estimated based on the previous month’s usage. Meter readers will continue to read meters for large commercial customers.

    Once meter reading resumes, the bills will “true up” and customers will be billed accordingly for the actual usage. Customers will pay for only the electricity used.
  • Service disconnections are suspended through May 17, an extension from April 17. If you receive a notice from Hawaiian Electric before May 17 that threatens to disconnect service, it’s a scam and should be ignored.

    Customers facing financial hardship are urged to contact Customer Service so payment options and schedules can be arranged to help keep payments manageable. While customers will still be responsible for paying their electric bills, payment schedules and other options can help ease the financial challenges for those most affected by the COVID-19 situation.

    The quickest way to start the process is to fill out and submit a Payment Arrangement Request Form at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/customerserviceoptions.
  • Walk-in customer payment centers will remain closed at least through April 30 rather than reopen on March 30 as originally planned.

Hawaiian Electric encourages customers who are having difficulty paying their bills due to the coronavirus pandemic to contact customer service representatives.

To make payment arrangements or for more information, visit the online customer care center at www.hawaiianelectric.com or call:

COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing in Hilo on Sunday, March 29

Premier Medical Group and Bay Clinic, with the support of the County of Hawai`i COVID-19 Task Force, will offer a drive-through screening and testing clinic. The one- day clinic for COVID-19 will be held at Hilo’s Ho`olulu Complex on Sunday, March 29, 2020 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

This clinic is open to the public; however, individuals must first undergo a screening to determine if they meet the criteria to be tested. Clinic physicians on site will make the determination regarding testing. 

The screening criteria will be based on guidance of the CDC and the State’s COVID-19 Response Task Force.

People who visit the screening clinic will be asked to show photo ID. Additionally, people are requested to bring any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required. 

For further information, call Civil Defense at 935-0031.

Passenger Arrivals By Air Tank On First Day of Quarantine

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, 1,589 passengers arrived in Hawaii on the first day of the state’s 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for all incoming passengers.

Of that number, 268 people were visitors, and most of them were either crew members or returning residents.

In comparison, last year at the end of March, more than 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

This table details the number of people who arrived by air on March 26th:

* HNL (Honolulu, Oahu), OGG (Kahului, Maui), KOA (Kona, Hawaii Island), LIH (Lihue, Kauai)

Call for Proposals: 2020 Urban & Community Forestry Grants

Kaulunani Urban And Community Forestry Program opens call for their small Grants Program supporting up to $40,000 for urban and community forestry projects.

Explore online map of Hawaii’s Urban Trees: https://pg-cloud.com/hawaii/

Could funding from a community grant help your tree project get off the ground?

Whether you are planning a tree planting project, hosting a workshop or training, coordinating a restoration event, or creating outreach materials – there is support available! The DLNR’s Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program announces a call for grant applications that support urban and community forestry projects statewide.

The Kaulunani Grant Program has awarded hundreds of grants to nonprofit organizations, schools, community groups, parks, museums, and arboretums across the state of Hawai‘i for a diverse range of urban and community forestry projects. Over the years, Kaulunani grant recipients have impacted nearly every urban area in Hawai‘i. This state and federally funded grant program has enabled the planting of countless trees, raised awareness of the importance of trees in dozens of communities, and has involved thousands of Hawai‘i residents in caring for the ‘āina.

The Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program’s Grant Program offers several different levels of grants under which organizations and communities can apply:

● “Cool Your School” Grants: School grant requests between $500 and $3,000.

● ‘ILIMA Grants: Requests under $2,500.

● MĀMAKI Grants: Requests between $2,500 and $14,999.

● ‘ULU Grants: Grant Requests OVER $15,000, targeting specific special funding opportunities. ‘Ulu grants consider requests up to $300,000. The complete list of grant opportunities is available on the Kaulunani website. Requires pre-approval.

Applications are accepted on a quarterly basis with the following deadlines for 2020: May 1, August 1, and November 1. Applications received by May 1st will receive priority consideration for current year funds. The Kaulunani Advisory Council reviews proposals at the subsequent quarterly meeting following each deadline. Grants are made to projects that match or exceed the federal grant funds in cash and in-kind contributions. One grant request per applicant will be considered. Grants are awarded to projects that respond to a need identified in DLNR’s Forest Action Plan, Urban Forestry Chapter, which can be found on Kaulunani’s website: www.Kaulunani.org.

Upcoming informational webinar: Do you have an idea for a project? Join us during our upcoming webinar to learn how to enhance your proposal. We will teach you how to write a successful application and we will help fine tune your project to fit with the Kaulunani grant requirements. This informational session is a great opportunity to ask questions and get feedback for your ideas. Our staff are available to actively work with you through the application process.

Grant Information Webinar – Date: Friday, April 3rd, 12:00-1:15 pm

Zoom Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/416522240?pwd=eUIwME02TEJaZ0cwZDRubGoxTDdidz09

Meeting ID: 416 522 240 RSVP by April 3rd at 10 am to Jolie Dollar at jdollar@smarttreespacific.org to receive Zoom Meeting password.

For more information about the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, please contact Heather McMillen, DOFAW Urban & Community Forester, at heather.l.mcmillen@hawaii.gov.

Statewide Effort Underway to Identify Certain Inmates for Release from the Prison Population Amid COVID-19 Concerns

The Department of the Attorney General is coordinating a remote-access meeting of county and state prosecutors, public defenders and the judiciary to develop a plan for identifying certain categories of inmates for release from state jails.

On March 24, 2020, the Hawaii Supreme Court ordered the Attorney General and all county prosecuting attorneys to respond to a petition filed by the Office of the Public Defender seeking an order to commute or suspend jail sentences for persons serving time either as a condition of felony probation or pursuant to district court convictions for petty misdemeanors and full misdemeanors.

In her response, the Attorney General recognized the urgent need to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the state’s corrections system, but noted the important duty of law enforcement to protect the public and ensure the fair administration of justice. The Attorney General’s response identified a plan for collaboration among criminal justice counterparts that complements efforts already underway by county prosecutors to reduce the number of persons entering the jail system.

“Temporarily releasing inmates or suspending jail sentences could create risks of harm to victims and other persons in the community,” said Attorney General Clare E. Connors. “All sectors of the criminal justice system should participate in this unprecedented process of re-evaluating the need to incarcerate certain inmates in order to reduce the danger of COVID-19 spreading in our jail system.”

The Department of the Attorney General has circulated to each of the county prosecutors and to the public defender and judiciary a list of currently incarcerated inmates who are in the following categories:

A. charged with a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor;
B. serving jail sentences as a condition of felony probation; or

C. serving jail sentences for petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor.

On Friday, law enforcement entities, public defenders and the judiciary will discuss a process for evaluating the release, commutation or suspension of jail sentences for each of the inmates identified on the list. The process contemplates that those most knowledgeable about the inmates are able to ensure that each released person has a place to go, will not put another person at risk of harm and is properly tracked by the system. This process also is intended to ensure that any release of inmates does not further tax the limited government resources that are focused on addressing the general spread of COVID-19 in the community.

UH Program Connects Public, Local Farmers During Pandemic

Since farmers’ markets have been shut down for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak, local farmers are concerned about how they will be able to sell their produce, and locavores are wondering where they are going to buy their local produce and value-added products.

The University of Hawaiʻi’s successful farmer-training program, GoFarm Hawai‘i, has been building a list of some resources for farmers as well as Find Your Farmer, a list of farmers who are still offering access to food in non-traditional ways, such as through pick-up and drop-off. They have the information promoted on their Facebook and Instagram pages so that farmers can add their information.

GoFarm Hawaiʻi has been addressing the issue of food security long before the unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis. 

GoFarm Hawaiʻi is a collaborative effort involving UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human ResourcesWindward Community College and UH’s Agribusiness Incubator Program.

They are looking for farmers who have food to sell as well as building a resource for people to access food. GoFarm Hawai‘i is also requesting any recommendations of services that can aid farmers during the interim so they can be added to the list.

GoFarm Hawaiʻi has five program sites across four islands, making it one of the largest beginning-farmer training programs in the nation. Sites are located on Oʻahu (in Waimānalo and Waialua), Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi Island. Started in 2012, the program has successfully trained aspiring farmers throughout the state.

COVID-19: First Hawaii Arrest for Violation of Order & Prohibited Acts

Hawaii Island Police report that 43-year-old Carissa Glende of Kailua-Kona was arrested for Violation of Order (586-11 HRS) after she went to a residence at the 82-6000 block of Anoi Place in Captain Cook, and threw a rock at a window and started an argument with occupants of the home, which violated a court order.  

Additionally, since she was not at her current place of residence during the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation, she was also arrested for Prohibited Acts (Emergency Management) under Section 127A-29 Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes.

She was subsequently charged for both offenses and bail has been set at $4000.00. She is presently at the Kona Police Station Cellblock, awaiting the next court appearance.

Coalition Urging Trump to Ease Restrictions & Allow Medical Professionals to Research Solutions to COVID-19

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors today joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general led by California in sending a letter to President Trump and
the Department of Health and Human Services calling on the Administration to end its research ban on fetal tissue to aid the nation’s medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorneys general argue that this exemption could help scientists develop vaccines and study the virus’ impacts on pregnant women and children.

“A better understanding of COVID-19 is critical to stopping the spread,” said Attorney General Connors. “With the states doing everything they can to flatten the curve, the federal administration needs to do everything it can so that scientists and medical professionals are able to find solutions.”

Scientists at the National Institute of Health who are working on potential therapies for COVID-19 have been appealing the administration for permission to work on fetal tissue, arguing that the current ban hampers our nation’s ability to address COVID-19. Research using fetal tissue has led to the development of other vaccines such as those for polio, rubella, and measles.

According to the American Medical Association, “fetal tissue has also been used to study the mechanism of viral infections and to diagnose viral infections and inherited diseases, as well as to develop transplant therapies,” – work that is pertinent to the current COVID-19 health crisis. Recognizing the importance of these scientific contributions, in 1993 members of Congress on both sides of the aisle voted to legalize fetal tissue research. The attorneys general argue that the June 2019 ban impedes necessary research efforts during this unprecedented public health crisis, and urge the administration to lift the ban.

In sending the letter, Attorney General Connors joins the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Local Hotels Willing to House Healthcare Workers

Here are today’s updated stats from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA):

AHLA has launched Hotels For Hope, an initiative to connect hoteliers with government entities interested in using properties during this time of crisis to support communities across the country by connecting hotel properties with the health community, struggling to find housing and support as the COVID-19 public health crisis grows.

To help match and streamline the process, AHLA is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to create a national database, which will allow Government officials  to search willing properties based on geographic location.

In just a few short days, over 6,500 hoteliers have stepped up to offer a way to help their communities in this time of need, dozens of properties in Hawaii have already expressed their readiness and participation in this program, including but not limited to:

  • As of March 25, seven out of 10 hotel rooms were empty across the country.
  • Individual hotels and major operators across the country and here in Hawaii are projecting occupancy below 20% for the coming weeks and months. At an occupancy rate of 35% or lower, many hotels will simply close their doors, putting 33,000 small business vendors to our properties at immediate risk.
  • In Hawaii, most of our member properties are in the process of or have already started to consolidate operations, close properties, and, unfortunately, lay off, furlough, or reduce compensation for thousands of our hotel employees across the State. 
  • Since the public health issue began escalating in mid-February in the U.S., hotels have already lost more than $5 billion in room revenue.
  • Based on current occupancy estimates for the immediate future and historical employment impact rates, nearly 3.9 million total jobs have either already been eliminated or will be eliminated in the next few weeks.  More than 57,000 of these lost jobs are right here in Hawaii.
  • With 70% of direct hotel employees laid off or furloughed, hotel workers across the country are losing more than $2.4B in earnings each week.

Hawaii Passenger Arrivals By Air Tanks

The number of people – both residents and visitors – arriving in Hawaii daily by air has significantly dropped over the past week.

Last week Tuesday, March 17th, Governor David Ige strongly encouraged our visitors to postpone their vacations for at least the next 30 days to help with the State’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Ige followed up with an order for a 14-day mandatory quarantine for all incoming passengers to Hawaii and a stay at home order.

The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism publishes a daily passenger count during the weekdays: http://dbedt.hawaii.gov/visitor/daily-passenger-counts/

Below you will find the amount of people – both residents and visitors – who arrived by air, broken down by island. This includes passengers from the U.S. mainland and international locations, but not interisland travel. *We have included the drop in percentage compared to the same time a year ago.

Click to enlarge

Note: The daily average amount of residents arriving during March 2019 was 4,268. Also, the passenger count does not include flights from Canada.

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Shelters Close

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s top priority is keeping people safe while continuing to provide the utmost care for shelter animals during this COVID-19 crisis. There is no evidence that companion animals have been infected or could spread the coronavirus (COVID-19) according to the World Health Organization.

COVID-19 Action Plan Update

Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, Hawaii Island Humane Society’s three shelters in Keaau, Waimea and Kona will close to the public and volunteers. Hawaii Island Humane Society (HIHS) shelter staff will continue to ensure that pets are fed and kennels are clean. 

HIHS will provide the following essential services during this time:          

• Intakes: If you find a lost or stray animal, please call one of the Hawaii Island Humane Society shelters to schedule an appointment to bring the pet in. While the shelters will remain open for intakes, please be prepared to wait as staff is reducing public interactions. 

• Animal Control: Animal control officers will continue to answer high priority and emergency calls. Those calls include injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints. Officers will respond to other calls as time and safety allow. HIHS’s capacity to respond to calls may be diminished during this time. 

• Lost Pets: Call to make an appointment at your nearest shelter. You will need to file a lost pet report and provide proof of ownership (photo, veterinary records). 

• Owner Surrendered Pets: Pet owners who are not facing an immediate crisis are encouraged to hold their pets for up to four weeks and surrender at a later day. Pet owners who need to immediately surrender pets can do so by appointment only. 

• Owner Requested Euthanasia: Owners requesting euthanasia services are encouraged to contact and schedule an appointment with the shelter in your area. 

• Adoptions and Fostering Programs: Adoptions and fostering are on hold at this time while we develop a plan to promote positive outcomes for our animals. Please check hihs.org or follow us on social media for updates.

All dog parks are closed.

Hawaii Island Humane Society will not be issuing spay and neuter coupons this month. Community spay and neuter programs including the Angel Day 2020 Spay & Neuter for Pit Bull Mixes at the Keaau Shelter slated for April 1 and 2 is also cancelled. All programs including microchipping, humane education classes, group visits, events, field trips for shelter dogs and new volunteer introductions are postponed until further notice. 

Dog license renewals by mail only. Renewal cards and payment should be made to Hawaii Island Humane Society, 78-6767 Mamalahoa Highway, Holualoa, HI 96725. Checks should be made payable to the Hawaii Island Humane Society. 

Please do not come to the shelters unless you require one of our essential services. The individual shelters can be contacted for appointments by calling the Keaau Shelter 808-966-5458, Kona Shelter 808-329-1175 and Waimea Shelter 808-885-4558. 

Follow us on social media or check out hihs.org for more information. 

Information on Statewide Stay-at-Home Order

Effective March 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. through April 30, 2020, everyone in the State of Hawai‘i is required to stay at home or in their place of residence. This supplement to Governor David Ige’s emergency proclamation was announced on March 23, 2020.  Read the supplemental proclamation here

Under the proclamation, individuals may leave their home or place of residence only for essential activities, to engage in essential businesses and operations, and only if their work cannot be conducted through remote technology from home. 

Permitted Activities Outside the Home or Place of Residence

Under the order, the following activities are permitted outside the home: 

  • Travel for health and safety.
  • Travel to engage in, receive or obtain goods or services from the essential businesses or operations identified in the order.
  • Travel to engage in minimum basic operations of non-essential businesses, as well as the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other high risk persons
  • Travel from a person’s home or place of residence to the nearest airport or other facility for departure from the State.
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.
  • Outdoor exercise activities so long as social distancing requirements are maintained.
  • Walking pets on a leash.

Read the full details here.

Prohibited Activities Outside the Home or Place of Residence

  • Pursuant to current guidance from the CDC, any gathering of more than 10 people is prohibited unless exempted by this Third Supplementary Proclamation.
  • All other places of public gathering will be closed to the public.

Read the full details here.

Essential businesses defined in the proclamation include: 

  • All businesses or operations identified as federal critical infrastructure sectors or designated by the Director of HIEMA.
  • Healthcare services and facilities.
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine.
  • Food, beverage, cannabis production and agriculture.
  • Educational institutions.
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services.
  • Media.
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation.
  • Financial institutions.
  • Hardware and supply stores.
  • Critical trades, including building and construction.
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services.
  • Laundry services.
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises.
  • Supplies to work from home.
  • Transportation.
  • Home-based care and services. 
  • Residential facilities and shelters. 
  • Professional services. 
  • Child care services for employees exempted by this Order. 
  • Manufacture, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries. 
  • Critical labor union functions.
  • Hotels and motels.
  • Funeral services.
  • Government functions.  

Read the full details here.

Social Distancing Requirements

All essential businesses and operations identified herein and persons engaged in permitted activities identified herein, shall exercise the following social distancing requirements to the fullest extent possible:

  • Six-foot distances between individuals
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products
  • Separate operating hours for high risk populations
  • Online and remote access

Read the full details here.

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Persons experiencing homelessness are exempt from section I of the proclamation but must comply with the social distancing requirements to the fullest extent possible and are strongly urged to obtain shelter.

Read the full details here.

Criminal Penalties

Any person who intentionally or knowingly violates the order, if convicted, can be fined up to $5,000, or imprisoned up to one year, or both.

Read the full details here.


UH Extends Application Deadline to August 1

The University of Hawaiʻi is extending the deadline to apply for admissions to its three universities to August 1, 2020. This will give prospective students additional time to consider UH Mānoa, UH Hilo and/or UH West Oʻahu for the 2020–21 academic year under the new uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Prospective students can apply to the seven UH Community Colleges right up to the start of the semester. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible, particularly if they are interested in financial aid.

The announcement was made during a Wednesday, March 25 news conference by Gov. David Y. Ige, a UH graduate.

“For parents and students who are now thinking about staying home for college, you canʻt beat the opportunities across the University of Hawaiʻi System,” said UH President Lassner, adding that there is something for everyone at UH—from graduating high school seniors, to students on the mainland wanting to return home, to adults looking for improved economic opportunity through a career change.

“The UH system offers a wide range of amazing higher education programs across the state,” said Lassner. “Weʻre recognized around the world as affordable at every level, from our amazing community colleges to our welcoming baccalaureate universities to one of the world’s great research universities.”

Data show that people who earn a college degree or certificate earn more money over their lifetimes, are less likely to become unemployed in a recession, return to the workforce faster after a recession, live longer, live healthier, are less likely to become incarcerated, vote more, volunteer more, and their children are more likely to also pursue a higher education and experience these same benefits.

Go to the University of Hawaʻi application website for more information on how to apply.