Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood Project’s 3rd Phase Completed

The Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC), a Hilo-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, announced the completion and planned rent up for the third phase of the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project in Hilo. The third phase has 92 affordable units for low-income seniors 62 years and older who qualify for Section 8 rental assistance. 

The County of Hawaii Office of Housing and Community Development received more than 450 tenant applications for the 92 units. A lottery was conducted to establish the processing priority of the applicants. Tenants will begin moving in on May 8, 2020. Prior to occupancy, the units will be sanitized to minimize the risk of COVID-19 contamination. Occupancy will occur gradually to maintain social distancing. It is expected that 6 units per day will be occupied, one on each floor of the complex. It is expected to take 4 to 5 weeks to completely fill the apartment complex with qualified seniors. 

“With the completion of this third phase of the Mohouli Heights Senior project, we will have completed 182 low income senior rentals on the site with the 9,000 square foot Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Adult Day Center (a collaboration with Hawaii Island Adult Care, Inc.) embedded on the campus providing housing and services to seniors,” said HICDC Executive Director Keith Kato. 

The Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project is being developed through a collaboration between the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation, Wells Fargo Bank, Sugar Creek Capital and Bank of Hawaii. The project has been awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits and a low interest loan from the State Housing Finance and Development Corporation. The 5.4-acre project site is leased from the County of Hawaii for a nominal $10 per year.  Total development cost for the project is projected to be $36 million and the project has been completed four months ahead of schedule.

“Our mission at the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation started over 25 years ago with a dedicated group of volunteers who wanted to help provide needed housing on Hawaii Island for elderly and low income families. We will have completed over 700 affordable housing units in Hilo, Puna, Hamakua, Waimea, Kohala and Kona and provided housing security for those in need.”

Senator Inouye Announces Funding for Natural Energy Lab’s Seawater System

Senator Lorraine R. Inouye announced that $850,000 in General Obligation reimbursable bonds were recently released by Governor David Ige for improvements and upgrades to the seawater system of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA)

“The addition of new funding will help NELHA in its mission to develop and diversify Hawaii’s economy,” Senator Inouye said, “which is even more important at this time of economic upheaval caused by the closure and scaling back of many industries due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

NELHA is one of the largest single green economic development projects in the world. Its main facility is located on 870 acres just outside of Kailua-Kona on Hawai‘i Island.

Kona Historical Society Presents Virtual Story Time

With the governor’s stay-at-home order now extended through May, many ohana are searching for additional resources to keep their keiki entertained and engaged. To provide parents and caregivers a few minutes of precious relief, Kona Historical Society launching a new weekly virtual story time on its Facebook page.

The nonprofit is inviting ohana to gather around their computers, phones and tablets together to enjoy short stories about Kona’s unique history and heritage. Some of the books shared will transport viewers back to the past or take them down memory lane. Other selected books aim to spark curiosity, smiles, joy, and laughter. Many celebrate community, diversity and friendship.

Every Wednesday at 1 p.m., Kona Historical Society’s Programs Team will conduct a virtual story time, lasting between 5 and 20 minutes. The videos will initially be posted to Kona Historical Society’s Facebook page as a Watch Party and then uploaded to the Kona Historical Society YouTube channel. During the Watch Party, the public is welcome to provide comments and ask questions.

The first Kona Historical Society virtual story time is this Wednesday, April 29, when “Spunky: A Kona Nightingale” by Ethel Harder and Janne Fujimoto, with illustrations by Shay Wahl, will be read aloud at the Society’s Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook to resident donkeys Shizu and Charlie Boy. This delightful children’s book shares the story of coffee farming through the eyes of a donkey. 

The complete schedule of this series of free story time events can be found on Kona Historical Society’s Facebook page. The nonprofit looks forward to seeing fellow bibliophiles of all ages and Kona aficionados online.

Kona Historical Society is a community-based, nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii. For more information, visit www.konahistorical.org

Mayor Kim Clarifies Emergency Rules

Pursuant to the authority vested in me by Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 127A and due to the public health concerns related to COVID-19, I hereby find that immediate promulgation of this rule is necessary and do so in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of this County.

On April 16, 2020, Governor David Ige issued the Fifth Supplementary Proclamation, mandating enhanced social distancing requirements by stating that all customers and employees of essential businesses and operations shall exercise additional social distancing and protective measures to the fullest extent possible regarding the mandatory use of cloth face coverings, six-foot distances, limited customer occupancy, hand sanitizer and sanitizing products, disinfection, high risk populations, online and remote access, pickup at store or delivery, and signage.

This rule incorporates and implements the Governor’s Third and Fifth Supplementary Proclamations and provides clarification and additional guidelines to be implemented in this County.

  1. Food production and consumption

    Particular care should be exercised by essential businesses or operations that handle food production or consumption.  In addition to the requirements set forth in Section II of this rule, all customers and employees shall exercise the following additional requirements to the fullest extent possible:
    1. Employees shall use gloves while handling food. Should employees handle any payment transaction (cash or credit card) or the property of the customer, they must sanitize gloves or change gloves before servicing the next customer.
    2. Every employee shall do a self-check prior to start of shift to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms. If at any point during their work shift the employee notices such symptoms they shall immediately notify their supervisor and leave the premises. Employee shall seek medical attention if symptoms progress, and shall not return to work until symptom-free at a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours; except that if employee tests positive for COVID-19, employee may discontinue home isolation under the following three conditions:
      1. At least seventy-two (72) hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever reducing medications;
      2. Improvements in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
      3. At least seven (7) days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
  2. Patrons or riders of any of the County Mass Transit Agency vehicles

    Prior to boarding or entering a vehicle (e.g., Hele On Bus), riders who are five (5) years old and over, shall wear face coverings or masks to prevent the spread of droplets and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Exempted from wearing face coverings or masks are patrons or riders who have health or medical conditions, trouble breathing, or are otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.  Unless there is an exemption, the patron or rider who refuses to wear a face covering or mask shall not be allowed to board or enter the vehicle.
  3. Immediate promulgation of this rule is necessary to address the continuing emergency declared in the Emergency Proclamation issued on February 28, 2020, the Supplementary Emergency Proclamations issued on March 11, 2020, and March 24, 2020, and Governor David Ige’s Proclamation dated March 4, 2020, and Supplementary Proclamations issued on March 16, 2020, March 21, 2020, March 23, 2020, March 31, 2020 and April 16, 2020.
  4. Pursuant to Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Section 127A-29, any person violating this Rule shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
  5. This Rule shall be effective immediately, upon its promulgation, and shall continue throughout the present emergency caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or until sooner terminated by my Order.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Hawaiʻi to be affixed.  Done this 21st day of April 2020 in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.


Harry Kim
Mayor
County of Hawaiʻi

Mayor Kim Issues Emergency Rule Mandating Face Masks at Businesses

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim issued a Rule today that mandates face masks or coverings for all customers of essential businesses aged 5 or older and all employees who have contact with others, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Mayor’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule No. 3 stipulates that a business shall disallow entry to anyone who refuses to wear a face mask or face coverings.  Exemptions from wearing face masks are persons with health or medical conditions that prohibit the use of face masks or face coverings.

Rule 3 also calls for all customers to sanitize their hands at entry, and hand sanitizing stations must be set up in the customers’ path at the entrance.

The County’s COVID-19 Prevention and Education Task Force will be working with businesses to ensure compliance from their employees and customers, said Mayor Harry Kim.

“These are stricter than the Governor’s rules, because we want to make sure that our community stays healthy and safe,” the Mayor said.  Rule 3 was prompted in part after the recent outbreak of the virus among fast food workers and their families in Kona.

“We want these rules to be in place, while focusing on being reasonable so that people can make a living,” Mayor Kim said.

The Rule strongly recommends that one customer per 250 square feet be allowed into an establishment to ensure the six-foot distancing requirement, and to increase social distancing.  

Rule 3 calls for businesses to discourage hoarding of essential supplies, and mandates that businesses post signage and communicate special hours for high-risk populations.

Businesses that handle food production and consumption are to have employees use gloves while handling food, and employees who handle any payment transaction by cash or credit card must sanitize or change gloves before serving the next customer.

All businesses are required to assign, train and schedule employees to sanitize carts, conveyors, counters, handles, knobs and other common touch areas, the Rule says.

Employees must do a self-check prior to starting their shift to monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms. If an employee feels ill, they must immediately notify their supervisor and leave the premises. Rule 3 stipulates that the employee must seek medical attention if symptoms persist, and shall not return to work until symptom-free at a minimum of 72 hours.  If an employee tests positive for the virus, they shall not return to work until staying home and being symptom-free for 14 days.

On the County’s Mass Transit buses, riders five years old and older must wear face coverings or masks to prevent the spread of the virus, with exemptions for people with health or medical conditions that prohibit their use.  Riders who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed to board or enter the bus.

Violators of Rule 3 may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 or one year imprisonment, or both.  The Rule remain effective throughout the pandemic emergency, or until terminated sooner by order of the Mayor.

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

Update on Kona McDonald’s COVID-19 Cases

There is one new positive case associated with the cluster among the McDonald’s restaurants in Kailua-Kona. Another employee at the Walmart location has tested positive. DOH is continuing to monitor employees and family members, all of whom are in isolation or quarantine. 

Both restaurants (at Kona Commons and at Walmart in Kailua-Kona) are temporarily closed. There is low-risk to the public, as only workers or their family members were identified as close contacts.

Cluster Investigation Continues at Maui Memorial Medical Center

41 individuals are under investigation as potentially associated with a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC). This number includes 26 staff members, 14 patients and one undetermined. The main cluster involves at least 15 staff and eight (8) patients. 195 healthcare personnel and 93 patients have been tested as part of this investigation. While test results for possible new exposures are pending, DOH confirms that the implementation of extensive infection control measures throughout MMMC, reduces concerns for new transmissions events at the facility.

COVID-19 Investigations in Wahiawa

Two healthcare workers at Wahiawa General Hospital Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on O‘ahu have tested positive for COVID-19. The cases appear to be unrelated to each other, as well as a past case that occurred in late March. Given the two recent cases occurred within a week of each other, DOH cannot exclude possible association at this time. 12 people associated with the pair of cases have tested negative for the virus. Infection control measures and monitoring by the facility’s infection control preventionist is continuing. At the Wahiawa Center for Community Health, two healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19. DOH has reports of a third worker at the center who had been hospitalized, but it appears that the person was likely exposed while traveling out-of-state, has not had exposure with the other two people, and has not been at work since returning to Hawai‘i.

Mayor Kim Issues Rule that Allows Ocean Access from Certain Parks

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim issued a Rule on Friday which allows ocean access from certain County parks for outdoor exercise, fishing for food, and the use of restroom and shower facilities. 

Reed’s Bay

The Mayor’s COVID-19 Emergency Rule No. 2 stipulates that the following beach parks will be made available daily from 7 a.m. through 5 p.m., for the purposes of direct access to and from the ocean and shoreline in order to engage in outdoor exercise, fishing for and gathering food, and use of restroom and shower facilities:

• Kahalu‘u Beach Park
• Magic Sands Beach Park
• Wai‘aha Bay Beach Park (Honl’s)
• Kawaihae Canoe Area
• Honoli‘i Beach Park
• Kaipalaoa Landing Beach Park
• Bayfront Beach Park
• Reed’s Bay Beach Park
• Lili‘uokalani Gardens 

The following park restroom facilities will be opened daily from 7 a.m. through 5 p.m.:

• Mo‘oheau Bus Terminal – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Lincoln Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Bayfront Soccer Fields – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Bayfront Beach Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Liliuokalani Gardens – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Reeds Bay Beach Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Veterans Cemetery No. 2 – 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Honoli‘i Beach Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• ‘Alae Cemetery – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Shipman Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Kurtistown Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Kahalu‘u Beach Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Magic Sands Beach Park (La‘aloa) – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Wai’aha Bay Beach Park (Honl’s) – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Kailua Park (Old A/Maka‘eo) beach only – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Waikoloa Pu‘u Nui Park – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Waimea Park tennis courts only – 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area – 24 hours

Park facilities that are not listed in the Rule remain closed, and reservations for these parks and recreational facilities are canceled through April 30, 2020.

The Rule notes that County cemeteries, including veterans’ cemeteries administered by the County, remain open for visitation during standard hours. Pana‘ewa Equestrian Center remains open only for persons with valid horse stall rental agreements, who are actively boarding a horse at the facility.

Rule No. 2 is to be read in conjunction with the Third Supplementary Proclamation issued on March 23, 2020, which directs people to stay at home, with exemptions for essential businesses and operations, and persons engaged in permitted activities. Social distancing requiring maintaining six feet of physical separation from other persons is stipulated in the Proclamation, along with limiting any gathering of more than 10 people.

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

Battalion Chief William Bergin Chosen Fire Fighter of the Year

William Bergin, a Battalion Chief, was recently recognized by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i as the County of Hawai‘i Fire Fighter of the year for 2019.  Battalion Chief Bergin was presented with an individualized award plaque and special gift basket from various Big Island businesses by Club President Curtis Chong and Event Chair Joey Estrella at the Hawai‘i County Fire Department Administrative Office due to the current temporary suspension of public gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

BC Bergin, besides his important work as Battalion Chief for West Hawai‘i, was recognized by the Fire Department for his tireless efforts in securing important funding towards necessary equipment and off-road vehicles to battle West Hawai‘i wildfires.  Besides Hawai‘i County Funding, Bergin was able to secure private resources saving the County nearly a million dollars for the specialized equipment.

BC Bergin is a proud member of the County of Hawai‘i Fire Department, and cares deeply for the men and women under his command, always mindful of keeping them safe from harm.  His goal is to leave things better than he found them, and is grateful for everyone who has been part of creating a safe working environment for our fire personnel.

F𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 A𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 Available 𝐭𝐨 𝐇𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐢ʻ𝐢 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝 R𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 I𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐂𝐎𝐕𝐈𝐃-𝟏𝟗

Thanks to a $100,000 grant from Hawaii Community Foundation and a $141,000 grant from Hawaii Island United Way’s Rent & Utility Assistance Program, financial help is available to low-income Hawaiʻi Island residents experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Resilience Fund was established by Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and Pierre and Pam Omidyar to “rapidly deploy resources and encourage community giving to address the COVID-19 Pandemic,” according to the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation website. United Way’s Rent & Utility Assistance Program was established to assist those who are in immediate and urgent need of support with paying their rent and utility bills due to their income being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funding will allow three Hawaiʻi Island non-profit organizations, Hope Services Hawaii, Neighborhood Place of Puna and Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council, the opportunity to approve one-time emergency financial assistance of up to $1,000 per household to Hawaiʻi Island residents who have recently been laid off or whose income has been reduced.

Also, eligible applicants for financial emergency assistance must meet income limits, currently earning at or below 80% of Hawaiʻi County’s Area Median Income (AMI). The 80% AMI cap starts at $46,700 for an individual, and increases with each additional family member. Verification of income, proof of economic hardship as a result of the pandemic, and a government-issued Hawaiʻi ID is required. For a full list of required documents and grant guidelines (including AMI limitations) contact the following agencies for additional information:

Hope Services Hawaii  
Phone: (808) 935-3050  
Website:  www.hopeserviceshawaii.org

Neighborhood Place of Puna
Phone: (808) 965-5550
Website: http://neighborhoodplace.org/

Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council
Phone: (808) 935-5219
Website:  http://hceoc.net

Or call United Way at 211 for more information.

Funding is limited and agencies are asking for your consideration in making sure you meet all requirements before applying. 

Hope Services Hawaiʻi will be able to assist households seeking mortgage, rent or utility assistance. HOPE will assist with the payment of one household bill or expense. 

Neighborhood Place of Puna and Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council will assist with rent and utility costs only. Applicants of this program can apply once a month for up to 3 months. 

Payments will be sent directly to creditors on behalf of applicants. 

“More than half of Hawaii Island’s residents live paycheck to paycheck making ends meet even before this pandemic,” says HOPE CEO Brandee Menino. “We are grateful to Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and the Hawaii Island United Way for stepping up to assist our island’s most vulnerable residents.”

COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing in Hilo on Sunday, April 19

Premier Medical Group, with the support of the County of Hawai’i, Bay Clinic and Hope Services, 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, April 19, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.  Please note updated clinic hours are 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Access only through the Pi’ilani/Hinano entrance.

This free 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 their own pen, and any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required. 

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

Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 on Big Island by Age Group

The amount of cases of COVID-19 by age groups on the Big Island of Hawaii as of April 8, 2020, breaks down like this:

  • Ages 0-19: 16 cases with none requiring hospitalization (0%)
  • Ages 20-39: 137 cases with 5 requiring hospitalization (3.5%)
  • Ages 40-59: 149 cases with 11 requiring hospitalization (6.9%)
  • Ages 60+: 98 cases with 26 requiring hospitalization (21%)

Spread of COVID-19 in the State of Hawaii as of April 8, 2020:

Gov. Ige Appoints Oshima to Lead Economic & Community Recovery

Hawaii Gov. David Y. Ige, joined by Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki, issued a proclamation today announcing the appointment of veteran business executive and community leader Alan M. Oshima to lead Hawaiʻi’s efforts to develop and implement a plan for economic and community stabilization, recovery and resiliency. 

Alan M. Oshima

“The health and safety of Hawaiʻi’s people will always remain my overriding priority. However, while working to protect our residents we also need to focus on stabilizing our economy. With the staggering increase in unemployment and the number of businesses shutting their doors, we need to take action now so we can provide for the basic needs of our citizens – food, shelter and healthcare – and plan for what the future holds,” said Gov. Ige. “The only way we can address these issues and rise out of this crisis, is to work together – this includes government, the private sector, non-profits and the community-at-large.” 

Oshima was selected to lead the governor’s efforts based on his experience, long-standing reputation, business acumen and dedication to leadership and volunteerism with community organizations. In February, Oshima became the senior executive advisor of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO) after serving five years as its president and chief executive officer. While at HECO, he is credited with accelerating a company-wide transformation initiative that reorganized its focus and built an employee culture that readily adapts to change.

Oshima will lead a collaborative effort to develop and implement the Hawaiʻi Economic and Community Recovery & Resiliency Plan that will include a concurrent three-part strategy to address both the economic and community impacts of COVID-19: 

• Part I: Stabilization. Identify and address critical economic and community impacts, including the allocation of the federal CARES act funds and state and local funding to mitigate the collapse of key economic sectors. Also, provide direct economic relief to individuals to avoid homelessness, hunger and sickness. 

Part II: Recovery. Identify and support economic and community development activities which provide recovery, job growth and capital investment in the economy. 

Part III: Resiliency. Re-evaluate and restructure Hawaiʻi’s economy to meet the new normal and desired future for Hawaiʻi. Identify and invest in systemic changes in the economy and society which furthers economic diversification, environmental preservation, sustainability and Hawaiʻi’s values and way of life. 

“This is a monumental role that the governor has established, and it will be critical in helping Hawaiʻi through this crisis and shaping the direction of our state for generations to come,” said Oshima. “We need to move quickly to establish a collaborative approach that brings together all stakeholders and maximizes Hawaiʻi’s efficiency and response. These are critical times and we can’t afford to be duplicating efforts.”

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi said, “While we are sheltering in place to reduce community spread of COVID-19, the task force’s primary concern is to ensure that all federal monies are used to the fullest extent possible to stabilize our current economic free-fall.” Senate President Kouchi added, “It is hoped that this task force will be able to advance and expand upon the partnerships that were aborted when the pandemic struck.”

“This pandemic has reaffirmed what we have known for a while — that our economy must be diversified and cannot be over-reliant on one or two major industries,” said House Speaker Scott K. Saiki. “This task force must help modernize our economy. The future of our families and state relies upon a sound and resilient economy.” 

As part of the plans design, it will utilize the economic and community sectors identified in the Hawaiʻi 2050 Sustainability Plan: 

• Economy (Including Healthcare, Infrastructure, Financial Services, Hospitality, Construction, Innovation & Technology, Government and Military)

• Environment and Natural Resources

• Community and Social Well-being (Including NGOs, social services, culture and the arts, and faith-based)

To address community needs and expedite the decision-making process, input from key stakeholders and sectors will be essential. Each sector will have a state government appointed liaison to provide support, outreach and connect ideas and needs with available government and community resources. They will also be asked to identify and leverage tools, resources, and assets available to achieve desired outcomes, including the roles and responsibilities of government, business, nonprofits, labor organizations and individuals. 

“There are so many individuals, groups and organizations in our community that want to help and many have already started looking for solutions. We want to make sure that they all are engaged and that our efforts are streamlined to collectively identify issues, needs and solutions; facilitate cross-sector planning with government, business, non-profit and labor organizations; and collect reliable data and information for analysis that will be used as the basis for decision making,” added Oshima.

One of the first areas for collaboration is the federal CARES Act and other relief programs. It is anticipated the Hawaiʻi will receive $4.0 billion which need to be used by the end of the year. If the funds are leveraged with state and local government (e.g., infrastructure spending, bond financing, tax incentives), private (e.g., targeted industries and investments), philanthropic (e.g., direct contributions) and consumer initiatives, it will allow for greater utilization and provide for maximum impact to the stabilization and recovery efforts.

Gov. Ige concluded, “There is no time for personal agendas and self-interest – Hawaiʻi is one community, one family. We need to work together. This is the only way we are going to survive.”

14 Arrested, 32 Cited for Violating Stay-at-Home Order

Hawai‘i Police Department has continued enforcement of this order when appropriate, primarily in cases of non-compliance after verbal warnings or when in conjunction with unrelated calls for service. 

During the second week spanning (April 1-7, 2020), specific to the offense of “Prohibited Acts” (Emergency Management), Hawaiʻi Police Department officers arrested 14 persons, cited 32 persons, and initiated criminal cases against 4 persons (total of 50 violations), broken down by district as follows:

  • South Hilo District: 8 persons arrested, 13 persons cited, 2 criminal cases initiated
  • Kona District: 2 persons arrested, 4 persons cited
  • North Kohala District: 2 persons arrested, 3 persons cited, 2 criminal cases initiated
  • Puna District: 1 persons arrested, 5 persons cited
  • South Kohala District: 7 persons cited
  • Kaʻū District: 1 person arrested

During this past week:  Other unrelated criminal offenses, which prompted the police response and subsequent arrest of the suspects, involved Burglary, Theft, Trespassing, Contempt Warrant, Open Lewdness, Obstruction, Tro Violation, and Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Intoxicants/DUI.  Some of the behavior exhibited by violators to whom citations were issued consisted of disregarding repeated warning by police, creating a disturbance, reckless driving, and congregating/loitering at a closed park or beach area.

Governor David Ige’s Third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation, dated (March 23, 2020), Section 1, orders that:

All Persons in the State Must Stay at Home or in Their Place of Residence Pursuant to sections 127A-12(a)(5), 127A-12(a)(14), 127A-13(a)(1), and 127A-13(a)(7), HRS, all persons within the State of Hawaiʻi are ordered to stay at home or in their place of residence except as necessary to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, as identified at https://www.cisa.gov/identifyingcritical-infrastructure-during-covid-19 and as further designated below or by the Director of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA). With respect to persons residing in hotels, condominiums, townhomes, apartments, or other multi-unit dwellings, “place of residence” means the person’s individual hotel room or unit. To the extent, persons use shared or outdoor spaces when outside their residence, they must comply with the social distancing requirements set forth herein to the fullest extent possible. All persons may leave their home or place o f residence only for essential activities or to engage in the essential businesses and operations identified herein. This order shall take effect on (March 25, 2020) at 12:01 a.m. and remain in place until 11:59 p.m. on (April 30, 2020).

Sub-section F of the Supplementary Proclamation specifies the penalty associated with violations as follows:

F.  Criminal Penalties – Any person who intentionally or knowingly violates any provision set forth in this Section I shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, the person shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Hilo Residents Displaced by County Homeless Sweep Removed Despite CDC, Nonprofit Warnings

Hope Services Hawaii released the following statement regarding the homeless sweep that was done in Hilo on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

At 6:00 on the morning of April 7th, residents of the camp behind Agasa Furniture were awakened by the blast of a loudspeaker announcing that their home would be demolished in 30 minutes. Occupants were instructed by Hawaiʻi County workers to remove their belongings and vacate the premises, and were not offered alternate shelter arrangements.

PC: Hope Services

The day before, in a series of meetings between Community Alliance Partners (or CAP, a network of organizations providing services to people experiencing homelessness), and members of Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim’s cabinet, the county was repeatedly advised to follow CDC guidelines highlighting the public health risks of conducting a sweep.

The guidance, taken from a CDC webpage entitled “Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) among People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness,” states:

“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

Brandee Menino, the CEO of HOPE Services Hawaii, the island’s largest homeless services provider, was present at the meetings. She says that CAP representatives advised the mayor’s cabinet that, if the county chose to ignore the CDC and move forward with plans to clear the site, it must provide a relocation plan for residents. 

Menino went on to say, “Together, we developed a plan where the county would demarcate 12-foot squares under the Bayfront Soccer Fields, open up the bathrooms, and provide HOPE Services with advance notice of a sweep.” She says the cabinet members agreed to advise the mayor to accept the plan. “While we’d hoped the mayor would protect the community by canceling the sweep, we were at least assured that we’d have enough notice to help people move to a temporary location, so that we could help them make long-term arrangements.”

Early the next morning, however, Menino was shocked to hear that the sweep was in progress, without the relocation plan.

HOPE Outreach Team Lead, Carrie Hoʻopiʻi, was on her way to Kona to help secure housing for kūpuna during the pandemic, when members of her team alerted her to the sweep. Upon returning to Hilo, she found approximately twelve HPD officers, fifteen county workers, and a bulldozer at the site of the camp. Twelve of the approximately fifteen camp residents were present.

Hoʻopiʻi says that when she arrived, a loudspeaker was announcing to shocked residents that they’d have thirty minutes to gather their possessions and leave. She and her staff worked furiously to help residents pack and remove their belongings, but it wasn’t enough time. “I asked for an extension, and they gave me fifteen minutes,” she says. “It wasn’t enough, but we worked together to remove as many belongings as possible, including items belonging to the three residents who weren’t home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get everything out.”

PC: Hope Services

Immediately following the sweep, two members of the camp were picked up by family members and taken to a home they had secured on their own. Two people were taken to HOPE’s emergency assessment center, and one was admitted to the men’s shelter. Later that evening a second man from the camp entered the men’s shelter.

“Our shelters are already operating at or near capacity, and squeezing more people in is not an option at a time when we are following CDC social distancing guidelines,” says Menino.  While Carrie [Hoʻopiʻi] met individually with each camp resident, exchanging contact information, and encouraging them to stay in touch with us, we don’t know where the remaining residents will go, or if we’ll be able to find them.”

Hoʻopiʻi says that in the preceding weeks, her team visited the camp about 3 times a week–providing them with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and educating them about preventing the spread of COVID-19. She says residents were complying and were willing to follow safety guidelines. She also says that her team had planned to enter the camp and physically help the residents to rearrange their tents in order to maximize social distancing. Unfortunately, these plans were cut short by the county’s demolition of their camp.

PC: Hope Services

“The decision to demolish the camp has traumatized a community, and has created yet another public health risk” says Dr. Kāʻohimanu Dang Akiona, a physician with Premier Medical Group, who had regularly visited the encampment to provide medical care with HOPE’s Street Medicine Team. “We went from having an established location where we monitored people’s health and provided necessities like food and PPE, to a situation where they have no choice but to go out into the community to get these items.”

Rising housing costs and stagnant wages have made the homelessness crisis even more urgent in recent years, with over half of Hawaiʻi Island residents struggling to pay rent, even before the pandemic hit. When asked why the residents of the camp became homeless, Hoʻopiʻi replied without hesitation, “For the majority, they became homeless because they can’t afford housing. They all want housing, but just can’t afford it.”

The Hawaii Police Department released the following statement:

Hawaii Police and other county and state agencies addressed the replenishment of illegal structures behind Agasa Furniture today (04-07-2020).
 

PC: HPD

At 6:30 AM police along with other agencies that included Hope Services removed about 12 people and various structures located on a lot behind Agasa Furniture. Court proceedings held on Monday (April 6) resulted in the granting of a motion in favor of the County of Hawaii. Part of the courts granting of the motion included the appointment of a commissioner who will oversee the legal proceedings moving forward.
 

PC: HPD

The operation was aimed at permanently removing all illegal structures from the lot and included help from Hope Services who offered alternative housing and assistance for the people on the property. There were about 4 people that took advantage of the services, the remaining people elected to seek assistance on their own.
 
The operation was completed at about 12:00 PM and now includes fencing and “No Trespassing” signage to prevent any further activity on the property.
 
Police reported that the people that were on the property were cooperative, and there was no enforcement action needed. There was an abandoned vehicle left on the property that was removed.
 
Lieutenant Robert Almeida of the South Hilo Community Policing Section, who supervised the police part of the operation said, “It was a joint effort, and it was a long process that involved patience, perseverance and everyone working together. We appreciated the cooperation of the all people involved. In all this was a successful operation here.”
 

PC: HPD

The operation was a County response to complaints about the property that resulted in a similar operation about a year ago to illegal structures and development on the lot without permits.

COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing in Hilo on Saturday, April 11

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 Saturday, April 11, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

Drive-through access is only available at the Pi’ilani/Hinano entrance.

Note that the testing day has been changed to SATURDAY, to adjust for Easter Sunday. (Normally the Hilo testing is done on Sundays.)

This free 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 is 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 their own pen, and any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required. 

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

One-Way Traffic Pattern on Kalaniana‘ole Ave. to Start April 13

A one-way traffic pattern in Keaukaha originally set for March, is planned to start next week. Beginning Monday, April 13, 2020, a portion of Kalaniana‘ole Avenue in Hilo will have a one-way traffic pattern in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week as part of an ongoing roadwork project. The one-way pattern was postponed to allow for changes to improve traffic flow at the affected intersections. It is expected to be in effect for six months, weather and construction conditions permitting. 

A detour will direct eastbound motorists travelling from Hilo to Keaukaha from the intersection of Kamehameha Avenue and Kanoelehua Avenue to continue east on Kamehameha Avenue then north to Silva Street to reconnect to Kalaniana‘ole Avenue.  Traffic will not be allowed eastbound on Kalaniana‘ole Avenue between Kamehameha Avenue to Silva Street.

Motorists traveling from Keaukaha to Hilo can travel westbound on Kalaniana‘ole Avenue between Silva Street and Kamehameha Avenue. 

Signs and message boards will be posted advising motorists of the one-way traffic pattern. Motorists are advised to obey all traffic control devices, including special duty officers when on scene and to drive with caution in the work zone. Motorists are also advised to allow for extra time while driving through the work areas and to expect delays. 

The one-way traffic pattern is being implemented to allow the contractor to excavate and install a 12-inch waterline, relocate utility lines, and pave both lanes of travel as expeditiously as possible. The 24-hour traffic pattern will reduce roadwork construction by an estimated 12 to 18 months. Due to the high number of residential properties in the area, it is not feasible to conduct the roadwork at night.  

The Kalaniana‘ole Avenue Improvement project, which began in March 2018, is a joint State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation and County of Hawai‘i endeavor. It includes widening Kalaniana’ole Avenue from Kanoelehua Avenue to Kuhio Street (Hilo Harbor entrance), installing a concrete sidewalk on the makai side, a paved shoulder on the mauka side, bicycle lanes in each direction, one through lane in each direction, a shared turn lane, drainage improvements, utility relocation, and the installation of a new 12-inch waterline. 

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding. 

If there are any questions or concerns about the Kalanianaʻole Avenue Improvement project, please call Goodfellow Brothers Inc., (808) 785-0363. 

Big Island’s Population Exceeds 200,000 Residents

The County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development released the county statistics for January 2020.

During January 2020, there were 3,250 listed as being unemployed on the Big Island and the unemployment rate was 3.5%.

Of note according to the report, as of July 19, 2019, the Big Island’s estimated population was at 201,513 residents.

COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing in Hilo

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, April 5, 2020 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Access only through the Pi’ilani/Hinano entrance.

This free 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 their own pen, and any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required.

COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing in Kona

Ali’i Health, with the support of Premier Medical Group and the County of Hawai`i COVID-19 Task Force, will be conducting drive-through screening and testing clinics in Kona. The twice weekly clinics will be held on Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon, starting April 2, and continuing until further notice.

The Clinics will be held at the Keauhou Shopping Center.

These clinics will replace the drive through clinics that were held at the Old Kona Airport. No testing will be held this weekend at the Old Kona Airport.

These free clinics are 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 que 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.

Proposed Big Island Clean Energy Projects to be Discussed

ENGIE Hawai‘i will be hosting a televised town hall meeting on Nā Leo TV on April 30, 6 to 7 p.m. to discuss two proposed solar and energy storage projects in the Puakō and Waikoloa area. These proposed solar and energy storage projects will reduce the use of fossil fuel, bring stability to electricity prices, and protect Hawaiʻi Island’s environment for future generations.

Screen shot of website


ENGIE Hawai‘i is one of several companies who proposed clean energy projects to Hawaiian Electric as part of an effort to bring more clean, affordable energy to customers. Hawaiian Electric is expected to select projects this May to be built over the next two years.

This televised town hall meeting, which will have no studio audience, is being held in lieu of an in-person meeting in compliance with social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The interactive town hall will take questions from viewers via phone and email. 

Interested residents can tune in to ENGIE Hawaiʻi’s town hall meeting on April 30, 6 to 7 p.m. on Nā Leo TV, on cable or online at naleo.tv. The broadcast will also be archived on ENGIEHawaii.com.

More information about the proposed Puakō and Waikoloa projects, plus proposed battery storage projects on Maui and Oʻahu, can be found at ENGIEHawaii.com. Residents are also invited to sign up for the email list at ENGIEHawaii.com, send questions to info@ENGIEHawaii.com, or call (808) 315-5531.