Puna Hui Donates Masks to Hilo Medical Center

A small neighborhood group in the Puna District of the Big Island of Hawaii, has donated hundreds of surgical masks to the emergency room at the Hilo Medical Center (HMC).

The “Pahoa Mask Mission Hui,” founded by a group of three residents in the Kalapana Seaview neighborhood, collected and donated 60 N-95 masks and close to 400 hand-made masks. The Hui is led by Annie Stiefel, Bob Kirk and Mary Rose Love.

When delivering the masks, retired nurse Mary Rose Love, reported that the staff were “absolutely delighted.”  A security guard asked for a size large mask and as it was handed to him, he exclaimed, “this is my lucky day!”

Hawaii is just now seeing a surge in coronavirus cases. The state is weeks behind the mainland but has seen daily increases of 10% cases or more per day, with the current count at over 224 cases as of March 31 (15 on Hawaii Island). With only 11 critical care beds, HMC provides care to a population of over 40,000 people. It could easily be overwhelmed. 

According to Stiefel, on Friday, March 20th, she saw the Corona Virus Deaconess news article asking the public to sew masks for hospitals. “A friend who is an ER nurse at HMC messaged me that they indeed need them and would be so grateful for them, which really spurred me on.”

“I posted it on my FB page asking ‘who has a sewing machine and wants to help? I started organizing and gathering supplies that day and asking neighbors and friends to help,” said Steifel. “Everyday I’ve been getting more volunteers. There are a dozen of us now. The Mask Mission Hui!” 

Some have donated money or materials, some precut the fabric and some sew. “In our first week we delivered 430 masks to HMC (60 were new store-bought masks that people had left from the lava flow of 2018), each a labor of love and caring,” said Stiefel. “Each of us are sleeping a little better at night knowing we are doing something to help.”

“We gave 5 masks to a family that has one member that has been tested but they are awaiting results; they have isolated that one person within their home, so they are using masks and gloves within their own home,” said Love. “And, we gave three to the Seaview FedEx delivery person who feels much more comfortable with her work conditions now.”

For more information or if you would like to contribute to the Puna Mask Mission Hui, contact Annie Stiefel at Anniesands@gmail.com.

Catering & Food Trucks to Deliver Free Meals to Kūpuna

Mayor Caldwell, along with Aloha Beer owner Steve Sombrero announced today a coalition of Catering and food truck operators will deliver free meals to Hawaiʻi’s kūpuna during this COVID-19 period. This coalition is self-funded but is looking for grants from local foundations and donors to support this project.

The Coalition has created a website called “Malama Meals COVID-19 Community Meal Program” with the goals of supporting kūpuna, who are encouraged to stay out of the public for the next 15 days. This program will provide meals to seniors who live in senior centers along with keiki who depend on school meal programs.

Department of Community Services Director, Pamela Witty-Oakland, shared, “our Elderly Affairs team is excited to launch this partnership, which will supplement our existing meal delivery program to home-bound seniors and expand that network to help our kūpuna at senior housing across the island get nutritious meals that will allow them to stay in their homes as we all try to help flatten the curve.”  Some of the projects receiving daily meals will include:

  • Whitmore Circle Apartments
  • Kumuwai, the City’s newest project which provided permanent housing to previously homeless seniors
  • Mānoa Gardens
  • Nā Lei Hulu Kūpuna
  • Franciscan Vistas ʻEwa Beach
  • West Loch Elderly Village
  • Additional sites still being confirmed

The City & County of Honolulu, Department of Community Services, also serves as the Area Agency on Aging.  Our County Executive on Aging, Derrick Ariyoshi, and his team have been working hard with our network of senior care providers to ensure that in-home and meal services to the thousands of seniors we serve will continue uninterrupted.  Catholic Charities of Hawaiʻi has also been a key partner in reaching out to the senior housing to be served through this program.

Coalition Partners currently include Owner of Aloha Beer Steve Sombrero, Debra Espino of Applebee’s, IHOP and Olive Garden Restaurants, Ahmad Ramadan of Da Spot, Gilbert Sakaguchi of Blue Water Shrimp, and Dan Port of Aloha Venues. In coordination with public service and non-profit community organizations, Malama Meals mission is to provide food security to individuals and communities in need or at risk to contain COVID-19.

Those in need can also request meals online at Malama Meals website, www.malamameals.org.

Administrative Leave Offered to County Workers

In a memo from Mayor Kim to Hawaii County Department and Agency Heads sent on Friday, March 20, 2020, Mayor Kim authorizes Administrative Leave due to closures of Schools or Child Care Facilities because of the current COVID-19 emergency.

Administrative leave of up to 14 calendars days was authorized.

NHCH Announces Relocated COVID-19 Testing

Drive-up testing at Queen’s North Hawai’i Community Hospital (QNHCH) will be relocated to a more convenient location starting Thursday, March 19, and testing will be expanded to 6 days a week – Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm.

The new location is at the QNHCH Primary Care Clinic, 65-1267 Kawaihae Rd., located next to Longs Drugs in Waimea. Physician’s orders are not required. Patients are asked to bring ID and insurance information, and to stay in their vehicle; testing takes only a few minutes and is done while the patient stays in the vehicle.

For more information, visit coronavirus.gov or the State of Hawaii Department of Health new website hawaiicovid19.com or call the Queen’s COVID-19 Information Line at 691-2619.

2020 Census Field Operations Suspended

Less than one week ago, the 2020 Census fully kicked off, and invitations continue to arrive in mailboxes across the nation.  As of this morning, more than eleven million households have responded. America is stepping up to shape our future and ensure families and communities are counted.

Beginning today, in support of guidance on what we can all do to help slow the spread of coronavirus, 2020 Census field operations will be suspended for two weeks until April 1, 2020. The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions.

During this pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 Census operations. Should any additional adjustments need to be made, the Census Bureau will communicate these changes broadly and promptly. 

In late May, census takers around the nation will begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census to help complete the count. As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, we will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.

The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail. Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding.  

It has never been easier to respond to the census, and the 2020 Census will count everyone accurately. We recognize that many people plan to access the 2020 Census through other response modes, such as phone or paper, which is why the 2020 Census has such a nimble design. 

On March 15, 2020, the Census Bureau announced several adaptations to our group quarters operations to accommodate recent scheduling changes on college campuses as leadership takes action to keep students and faculty safe.

For all other Census Bureau household and economic surveys separate from the 2020 Decennial Census, Bureau personnel will begin using phone calls instead of in-person visits. In the limited number of instances where an in-person visit is necessary, we are working closely with public health authorities to ensure each visit is accomplished safely.

Once again, we encourage everyone to respond online today at 2020Census.gov.  With the flexibility and support of the American people, we will achieve a complete and accurate count which helps guide funding decisions for things like hospitals, roads and emergency services. Respondents can also respond by calling the number provided in their invitation or by mail once they have received a paper form.  

~ U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham

NHCH Announces New Policies and COVID-19 Testing

North Hawaii Community Hospital

KAMUELA, HI – For the protection of our patients, staff, and community, starting on Monday, March 16 at 5 am, all staff and visitors will be screened for fever and exposure risk in the main entrance lobby prior to entering the hospital.

This will be the only entry point to the hospital and clinics apart from the emergency room. After successful screening, visitors and employees will be issued a “day pass” sticker and allowed to enter the hospital.

To further protect our patients, only one visitor will be allowed in the hospital per patient and no children under the age of 12 will be allowed in the hospital unless they are receiving care.

Effective Monday, March 16, testing for COVID-19 will be available WITH DOCTOR’S ORDERS Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 am – 2 pm outside the Lucy Henriques building.

For more information, visit coronavirus.org or call the Queen’s COVID-19 Information Line at 691- 2619.

Census Bureau Update on COVID-19 & 2020 Census Count

The U.S. Census Bureau is carefully monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities. We have also established the Census Bureau COVID-19 Internal Task Force to continuously monitor the situation and update our Pandemic Addendum to the Census Bureau Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan. 

Our preparation and contingency planning centers on two key principles: The health and safety of our staff and the public is of the utmost consideration and importance. We must fulfill our constitutional obligation to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the President of the United States on schedule, and we must adhere to our core task of counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

The key message right now for anyone with questions about how COVID-19 will affect the 2020 Census: It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

From March 12-20, households will receive the first of several invitations to participate in the 2020 Census.

We are encouraging everyone to respond online as soon as you receive your invitation with the provided instructions to go online. Instructions include the web address for the online questionnaire in English as well as where to respond online in 12 additional languages – ensuring over 99% of U.S. households can respond online in their preferred language.

The invitation will also include phone numbers for English and the 12 additional languages – ensuring over 99% of U.S. households can respond over the phone in their preferred language. Telephone assistance is available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. EDT for those who prefer to respond by phone.

Some households—in areas less likely to respond online—will receive a paper questionnaire in the first mailing; all households that have not responded online or by phone will receive a paper questionnaire between April 8 and April 16. The paper questionnaire includes a prepaid postage envelope to return it by mail.

Census takers plan to conduct the Nonresponse Followup operation in a handful of communities beginning as early as April 9, and across the country on May 13. Households can still respond on their own during this phase (online and phone response is available through July 31).

The Census Bureau will closely follow guidance from public health authorities when conducting this operation, as we do when conducting all field operations. 

If we need to delay or discontinue nonresponse follow-up visits in a particular community, we will adapt our operation to ensure we get a complete and accurate count. 

Currently, we are successfully conducting fieldwork for some of our non-decennial surveys by phone in areas where we are seeing an outbreak.

Similarly, partnership specialists are working with local partners and conducting meetings that may have been in person by phone and teleconference. 

We designed our 2020 operations precisely so we could offer multiple ways to respond. In so doing, we are able to make necessary adaptations at the local level for special operations as well. For instance, “group quarters,” the operation which counts people in nursing homes, college dorms, prisons and other institutional living facilities, includes a myriad of ways to respond, such as via eResponse, paper listing or self-enumeration by the facility. The same is true for “service-based enumeration” which counts people experiencing homelessness at the site where they receive services. The site administrators have multiple options for response.

In short, where a community, facility or service organization makes a change that would affect any field operation, we will adapt to make sure we are getting the same population counted another way.

We will work to share information about any change in operations with local authorities, community partners and the media. We will also work with community partners to continue to encourage self-response through the end of the nonresponse follow-up phase.

We also have significant contingency budget to address costs of operational changes. As needed, we will hire additional workers, manage operations out of different offices or mail additional reminders or questionnaires to areas affected by an outbreak.

We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate steps in consultation with public health authorities

Free Spay & Neuter for Pit Bulls

Hawaii Island Humane Society is hosting Spay & Neuter ANGEL Day at its Keaau Shelter on Wednesday, April 1 and Thursday, April 2. Spay & Neuter ANGEL Day is taking place in 41 cities across the nation and is sponsored by the Stand Up For Pits Foundation. 

During Spay & Neuter ANGEL Day, Hawaii Island Humane Society will be offering FREE spay & neuter surgeries for pit bull-type dogs and puppies at its Keaau Shelter. For the purpose of this event, a pit bull-type dog includes American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs and their mixes. 

“Due to the popularity of these breeds in Hawaii, many dogs are pit bull mixes and without a DNA test, can be identified based on physical characteristics including blocky heads, short coats and a stockier build. There is no need for pet owners to provide proof of their dog’s breed,” said HIHS Community Programs Director Lauren Nickerson. “Unfortunately we will not be able to accept any dogs that appear vastly different than a pit bull at the ANGEL Day 2020 event.”

Space is Limited. All appointments must be scheduled in advance. Schedule your appointments by calling 329-8002 or emailing lauren@hihs.org. We are unable to accommodate drop-ins.

Ongoing spay and neuter services are also done at the Hawaii Island Humane Society’s locations in Keaau (1 day a week) and Kona (1 day a week) and it’s completely free. The Hawaii Island Humane Society also distributes free spay & neuter vouchers at the Keaau, Kona and Waimea shelters. The free vouchers can be used at participating veterinarians. 

The Hawaii Island Humane Society performs between 4,500 and 5,500 spay and neuter surgeries annually and nearly 50,000 in the last 9 years. 

Check out hihs.org for more information. 

About Stand Up For Pits Foundation

Angel is the founder of the Stand Up For Pits Foundation. April 2nd will be four years since Angel left this earth but her life and legacy lives on through millions of lives Spay & Neuter ANGEL Day saves and all that the Stand Up For Pits Foundation does. 

Spay & Neuter ANGEL Day is a massive and desperately needed Foundation initiative which fully funds the spay and neuters of pit bull-type dogs in cities across the country in loving memory of Angel. This year, 1,526 pit bull-type dogs will be fixed in 41 US cities at a cost of $150,000. 

Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring if also unaltered can produce an estimated 67,000 dogs over a 6-year period. 

Spaying and neutering is an effective way to stop needless loss of life. It is in fact, a solution since 85% of all dogs in US shelters are labeled pit bull-type dogs. Spay and neutering should be everyone’s priority. 

Check out standupforpits.us for more information.

Public Informational Meetings for Hawaii Beach Monitoring Program

The State Department of Health (DOH) will hold public informational meetings to present proposed changes to the Hawaii Beach Monitoring Program. Please click on the following links for the proposed Hawaii BEACH Monitoring Program Modification, and the Hawaii BEACH Program Presentation.

Persons wishing to comment on the proposed modification should submit their comments in writing no later than May 1, 2020, either through email at: cleanwaterbranch@doh.hawaii.gov, or by mail at: Clean Water Branch, 2827 Waimano Home Road, Room 225, Pearl City, Hawaii 96782.

Meetings have been scheduled for:


Tuesday, March 17, 2020 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, J. Walter Cameron Center, conference room 2, 95 Mahalani St., Wailuku, HI


Thursday, March 19, 2020 from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, Hawaii District Health Center Office, 1582 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, HI


Tuesday, March 24, 2020 from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, West Hawaii Civic Center, Building B, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy, Kailua-Kona, HI


Wednesday, March 25, 2020 from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM, Kauai District Health Center Conference Room, 3040 Umi St., Lihue, HI


Tuesday, March 31, 2020 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, Washington Middle School Cafeteria, 1633 South King St., Honolulu, HI

Sen. Inouye Announces Funding for Kahilu Theatre

Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, and Kona, Hawai‘i Island) announced that $250,000 in general obligation bond funds were released by Governor David Ige for a Capital Improvement Project in the name of the Kahilu Theatre Foundation.

The funds are for improvements and renovations to the theatre located in Waimea.

Zonta Club of Hilo Gives $10,000 in Scholarships and Awards

The Zonta Club of Hilo presented $10,000 in scholarships and awards at its monthly membership meeting on July 8, 2019 at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  This year’s cash awards were presented in memory of former Zontian Katherine Lyle, who gifted the Zonta Club of Hilo with $5,000 as part of her trust.

From Left to Right: Kathleen McGilvray (Zonta Club of Hilo Scholarship Committee Chair), Kimberley Ann Mow (Nursing Scholarship), Kaitlyn Ashida (Nursing Scholarship), Kara Yoshiyama (Young Women in Public Affairs Award), Elyse Robinson (Zonta Club of Hilo President), and Andrea Christensen (Zonta Club of Hilo Scholarship Committee Member)

We were thrilled to recognize the achievements of seven outstanding women in Hawai‘i,” said Kathleen McGilvray, Zonta Club of Hilo scholarship committee chair.

The Young Woman in Public Affairs Award recognizes young women, ages 16-19, for demonstrating leadership skills and commitment to public service and civic causes, and encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life.  The 2019 recipient was Kara Yoshiyama, who received a $1,000 award.

The Nursing Scholarship is open to women enrolled in a nursing degree program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo or Hawai‘i Community College.  The 2019 recipients were Kaitlyn Ashida, who received a $2,000 scholarship, and Kimberley Ann Mow, who received a $1,000 scholarship.

The Women in Technology Scholarship is open to women pursuing a technology degree or closely related program or who are pursuing continued advancement in technology.  The 2019 recipients were Lino Yoshikawa, who received a $1,500 scholarship, Nola Bonis-Ericksen, who received a $750 scholarship, and Briana Noll, who received a $750 scholarship.

The Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship is open to women of any age enrolled in at least the second year of an undergraduate program through the final year of a Master’s program in business.  The 2019 recipient was Shawna Smith, who received a $3,000 scholarship.

Winners of these awards and scholarships (except for nursing) will be advanced from the club level to compete for additional awards and scholarships at the district and international level of Zonta.

Zonta Club of Hilo is member of Zonta International, whose mission is to empower women through service and advocacy.  One hundred years ago, a small group of pioneering women came together in Buffalo, New York with a vision to help all women realize greater equality while using their individual and collective expertise in service to their community.  Their vision became Zonta International, an organization that has grown to more than 29,000 members in 63 countries, working together to make gender equality a reality for women and girls worldwide.  November 8, 2019 marks Zonta’s centennial anniversary.

For more information, visit www.zontahilo.org.