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.

$12 Million in HUD Grants for Hawaii Coronavirus Response & Recovery

Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that Hawaii has received more than $12 million in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants to address the critical housing needs of Hawaii residents during the coronavirus pandemic. These funds come from the third coronavirus relief package Congress passed last week.

The grants include Community Development Block Grants, Emergency Solutions Grants, and grants through the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program. The grants will help service providers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing resources to protect Hawaii’s vulnerable communities. Potential uses of funding include the purchase of additional personal protective equipment, ensuring critical response infrastructure is available when needed, and helping at-risk populations stay safe. The HUD funds will be distributed to the state, as well as to Hawaii County, Kauai County, Maui County, and the City and County of Honolulu.

“The coronavirus pandemic has stretched resources thin for families and communities across the country,” Senator Hirono said. “This funding is a critical early step in protecting and providing resources for some of our most at-risk populations. I will continue my advocacy to ensure that future coronavirus relief packages prioritize workers, families, and the most vulnerable.”

HPD Begins Enforcement of Stay-at-Home Order, 18 Violations

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 exte nt possible. All persons may leave their home or place of 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:

  1. 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.

Hawai‘i Police Department has begun enforcement of this order. 

During the first week spanning (March 25-31, 2020), specific to the offense of “Prohibited Acts” (Emergency Management), Hawaiʻi Police Department officers arrested nine  persons, cited six persons, and initiated criminal cases against three persons (total of 18 violations), broken down by district as follows:

  • Kona District:  3 persons arrested, 4 persons cited
  • South Hilo District:  2 persons arrested, 2 persons cited
  • Puna District:  2 persons arrested, 1 criminal case initiated
  • Kaʻū District:  1 person arrested, 2 cases initiated
  • South Kohala District:  1 person arrested

Weekly updates of the Hawaiʻi Police enforcement efforts will be posted every Wednesday.

First Hawaii COVID-19 Death Possibly Travel-Related, Minor Tests Positive

The first death from COVID-19 has been confirmed as an older adult O‘ahu resident who had recently traveled from Las Vegas. DOH reports 34 new COVID-19 cases today — one is a minor and 33 are adults. The majority of cases are residents (26), one (1) is a visitor and seven (7) are unknown and pending investigation. There are now a total of 258 presumptive or confirmed cases in the state.

Community Surveillance testing has conducted roughly 380 tests to date on representative samples from every island with one (1) positive result on O‘ahu, reinforcing there is limited and localized community spread on O‘ahu.

Today, President Trump granted a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Hawai‘i triggering the release of Federal funds to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration is in effect from Jan. 20, 2020 and is continuing. 

The disaster declaration provides assistance to individuals and households and for emergency work and repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. The measure provides direct federal assistance of 75% of the total cost.

Mayor Kim Issues Third Supplemental Emergency Proclamation

Mayor Harry Kim issued the Third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation on Wednesday, April 1, suspending the ban on single-use plastic bags, extending deadlines related to commercial haulers, and clarifying that the April 9, 2020 deadline for filing Real Property appeals is unchanged. 

The County’s Third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation temporarily suspends Hawai‘i County Code Chapter 14, Article 20, Plastic Bag Reduction. The reason for the temporary suspension of the ban on single-use plastic bags is to discourage the introduction of germs or the virus into stores that could be present on personal reusable bags. Local stores will continue to use paper bags as a priority while their supplies last; plastic bags may be used for greater volume or wetter items. 

The Third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation also waives several deadlines as they relate to commercial haulers. The proclamation waives the permit expiration deadlines for a commercial haulers’ permit, the deadline for submission of a residential credit claim, and the requirement for interest billing. The deadline for an owner whose property is accessible to a public sewer to connect to the public sewer is also extended. 

The Proclamation clarifies that the Real Property Tax Appeal deadline is not suspended; the April 9, 2020 deadline for Appeals still stands. The Real Property Tax Appeal deadline remains the same so as not to negatively affect the certification of property values and the budgetary process. 

The Third Supplemental Emergency Proclamation will continue for 60 days, to May 30, 2020, or until further action by the Mayor’s Office.

PROCLAMATION:
WHEREAS, Chapter 127A Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, provides for the establishment of emergency management and disaster relief, including the Mayor having direct responsibility and authority over emergency management within the County; and

WHEREAS, Chapter 127A Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes and Chapter 7, Articles 1 and 2 of the Hawaiʻi County Code, establishes a Civil Defense Agency within the County of Hawai‘i and prescribes its powers, duties, and responsibilities, and Section 13-23 of the Hawaiʻi County Charter empowers the Mayor of the County to declare emergencies; and

WHEREAS, on February 28, 2020, the Mayor of the County of Hawaiʻi issued an Emergency Proclamation declaring a state of emergency due to the outbreak of COVID-19 virus being recognized as a public health emergency of international concern and a public health emergency for the United States; and

WHEREAS, on March 4, 2020, the Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi issued a Proclamation declaring a state of emergency based upon the actions and directives of the President of the United States, the World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and current conditions warranting preemptive and protective actions related to the outbreak of COVID-19 virus; and

WHEREAS, on March 11, 2020, the Mayor of the County of Hawaiʻi issued the   Supplementary Emergency Proclamation issuing further orders for response to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on March 16, 2020, the Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi issued the Supplementary Proclamation further suspending State laws that impeded the state-wide response to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on March 21, 2020, the Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi issued the Second Supplementary Proclamation issuing an Order that all persons coming into the State of Hawaiʻi shall be subject to a period of self-quarantine; and

WHEREAS, on March 23, 2020, the Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi issued the Third Supplementary Proclamation issuing an Order stating “All persons in the State Must Stay at Home or in Their Place of Residence” with exceptions for essential business or operations; and

WHEREAS, on March 24, 2020, the Mayor of the County of Hawaiʻi issued the Second Supplementary Emergency Proclamation issuing further orders for response to COVID-19, the suspension of meetings and hearings and postponement of permit deadlines and automatic approvals; and

WHEREAS, due to the possibility of imminent emergency or disaster due to bodily injury to residents of Hawaiʻi Island, and the need for government agencies and representatives from the private sector to mobilize and provide financial and other immediate services to our island residents, a state of emergency is authorized pursuant to Chapter 127A Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, and Chapter 7, Hawaiʻi County Code; and

WHEREAS, Section 127A-13(b)(1) Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes provides that during a state of emergency the Mayor may relieve hardship and inequities or obstruction to public health, safety or welfare found by the Mayor to exist in the laws of the county and to result from the operations of federal programs or measures, may suspend county laws in whole or in part; and

WHEREAS, to aid in the prevention of spreading the COVID-19 virus the use of single-use plastic bags for the transport of food and other material should be allowed and the County of Hawaiʻi’s Plastic Bag Reduction Chapter 14 Article 20, Hawaiʻi County Code, would hamper this effort; and

WHEREAS, there is a need to clarify the Second Supplementary Emergency Proclamation’s order number 2 Permit Deadlines and Automatic Approvals that the Hawaiʻi  County Code Chapter 19 Section 19-91 Appeal filing deadline of April 9 is not suspended due to the negative effect it will have on the certification of values and the budgetary process.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY KIM, Mayor of the County of Hawaiʻi, do hereby proclaim and declare that a state of emergency exists due to the imminent danger or threat of emergency on the Hawaiʻi Island and hereby authorize and invoke the following measures under Section 127A-13(b)(1) Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, as amended:

the following shall be suspended during this state of emergency:

  1. Hawaiʻi County Code Chapter 14 Article 20 Plastic Bag Reduction; and
  2. Hawaiʻi County Code Chapter 20 Section 20-35(a)(b)(d); Section 20-46(c); Section 20-47; and
  3. Hawaiʻi County Code Chapter 21 Section 21-5; Section 32(b).

The following is a clarification of Second Supplementary Emergency Proclamation’s order number 2 Permit Deadlines and Automatic Approval:

It is hereby clarified as not to include Hawaiʻi County Code Chapter 19 Section 19-91 Real Property Tax Appeal filing deadline of April 9. The remainder of order 2 shall remain in full force and effect.

This Third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation, the Second Supplementary Emergency Proclamation on March 24, 2020, the Supplementary Emergency Proclamation issued on March 11, 2020 and the Emergency Proclamation issued on February 28, 2020, all shall remain in full force and effect and shall be effective Wednesday,  April 1, 2020, and continuing thereon for 60 days or until further act by this office.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Hawaiʻi to be affixed.  Done this 1st day of April 2020 in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.

HARRY KIM
Mayor
County of Hawaiʻi

President Trump Approves Hawaii Disaster Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing.

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

The President’s action makes Federal funding available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the State of Hawaii impacted by COVID-19.

Pete Gaynor, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Robert J. Fenton as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further assessments.

Hawaii Arrivals By Air Down to 906

Today is the first day of the state’s expanded 14-day mandatory self-quarantine, which now includes interisland travelers.

Up until yesterday, March 31st, that order only applied to those arriving from out of state.

This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday and does not include interisland travel.


Yesterday was the sixth day since the state’s 14-day mandatory self-quarantine started.

Yesterday, 906 people arrived in Hawaii, and of that number, 161 people were visitors. Most of the passengers were either returning residents or crew members.

In comparison, during this same time last year, more than 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

Hawaii National Guard Ready for COVID-19 Response

The rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Hawaii has prompted the partial activation of the Hawaii National Guard to stand ready to lend their support to their community.

Airmen with Medical Detachment 1 (Med Det 1), Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) monitored guardsmen on State Active Duty orders (SAD) during an unprecedented health crisis carrying out daily temperature screenings and health surveys.

On March 23, Soldiers with the Hawaii Army National Guard reported for their first day of duty where they received a medical screening from the comfort of their personal vehicles.“

Our guardsmen were activated to help with the state response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Air Force Capt. Jeremy Wong, all-hazards triage response chief with Med Det 1 and ER trauma nurse at Queens Medical Center. “Our job is to make sure that they’re gonna be healthy and remain healthy for the duration of their deployment.”

Soldiers completed a health survey disclosing their age, medical history, and if they had traveled recently. They were also screened for COVID-19 symptoms which can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath appearing in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

The information collected from the medical screenings was used to establish a baseline of those Soldiers who may be at a higher risk for exposure and infection now sequestering.

Currently, a vaccine is not available for COVID-19 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Airman First Class Jolene Chun, a medical technician with Med Det 1 and as a civilian, a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), expressed the importance of stopping the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, remembering to wash hands often, and looking out for new CDC updates.

“If we’re all monitoring each other and the Soldiers that we’re looking out for,” said Chun. “We could quickly isolate any incident that could happen if it were to get worse.”

Although isolated from the general public, Soldiers are allowed limited interaction with visiting relatives for the purpose of receiving care packages and other goods. While on mission they continue to maintain their mental and physical well-being.

Army Sgt. Shane Seggar, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment, is among fellow Soldiers that are training and preparing for the order that calls them into action.

“It’s been good for us. It’s given us a chance to train our guys on stuff we don’t have time to do during IDT (drill weekends),” said Seggar. “We’re teaching classes on Calvary skills. Doing physical training twice a day. They’re all excited to be able to serve their community. That’s why most of these guys signed up and when we get called up, we’ll be ready to go.”

Seggar explained that daily screenings help them keep track of their health and lets them know that they haven’t contracted the virus from the community or each other.

Senior Airman Nicklaus Young, a medical technician with Med Det 1 came on SAD orders temporarily leaving his post as an emergency room technician at Queens Medical Center. He has experienced the influx of people wanting COVID-19 testing, the need for more medical supplies, and the trauma of day-to-day medical patients.

“It is hard because we do run short and it is tough that I am not able to help them,” said Young. “Being in the guard, I do have a duty right now, for my fellow Soldiers and Airmen, doing their screenings making sure they’re fit to fight! And with that, I am relieved to know that I am (still) helping my community in this way.”

Committee Requests Ige to Put Health Alert Network System Into Place

In a letter dated March 31, 2020 addressed to Governor David Ige, the members of the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 requested that his administration and the Department of Health “put in place as soon as possible a public health alert network system to provide critical information and reminders about COVID-19.”

The Special Committee feels that more aggressive messaging to the public is needed as the rules and guidelines for social distancing and sheltering-in-place are not being seriously followed in light of the alarming growth of the pandemic in the U.S.

Text alert systems have been implemented in two counties in Southern California, San Diego and Los Angeles. “Public Safety Alerts are critical to remind both residents and visitors that in order to save lives, stay home,” the letter to the Governor reads. “This includes reminding everyone that beaches, trails, recreation areas, and other public spaces are closed. Social distancing is one of the few tools currently available to fight the spread of the virus.”

The Special Committee points out in the letter that South Korea officials found that emergency texts sent three to five times a day were effective in reducing community spread, as the text messages detailed exact locations and movements of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Regular reminders and instructions were also sent out early on on how to prevent the virus from spreading, with instructions on social distancing, hand washing, coughing etiquette, and how to care for seniors.

Because of those efforts, South Korea has managed to significantly slow the number of new cases and “flattened the curve.”

Also in the letter, the Special Committee asks that Governor Ige — including the Department of Health and other appropriate members of his administration — to schedule a daily briefing to provide the public with information on COVID-19. “This will help in assuring that the community is receiving the same information on a timely basis.

“The committee requests a response on the strategy and timeline to establish this text alert system and the confirmation on scheduling a daily public briefing by 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 1,” with the Special Committee’s emphasis on timeliness in bold.

The letter is signed by Senate Special Committee members Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, Senator Jarrett Keohokalole, Senator Michelle Kidani, Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Senator Sharon Moriwaki, and Senator Kurt Fevella.

Hawaii Supreme Court Postpones Bar Exam

The Hawaii Supreme Court today announced that the Hawaii bar examination will not be administered on July 28-29, 2020 as originally scheduled. This decision was made due to the ongoing public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and upon consultation with the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners. A copy of the order can be found below.

The bar exam has been postponed until the fall, on dates to be determined.

The deadline for the application for this exam has been extended from April 1, 2020 to May 1, 2020.

Please visit the Judiciary’s COVID-19 Information page for the latest news on how it is responding to the pandemic.

Hawaiian Airlines to Support Medical Workers with Free Neighbor Island Flights

Hawaiian Airlines will provide complimentary Neighbor Island flights for medical professionals during the month of April to support travel associated with COVID-19 response efforts. The airline is partnering with Hawai‘i’s leading healthcare providers to maintain and facilitate the delivery of critical medical services to communities statewide.



Partner organizations include the Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated (HEPA), The Queen’s Health Systems, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, Hawai‘i Pacific Health, and Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc.

Hawaiian today also announced a new flight schedule designed to provide vital Neighbor Island connectivity in April, during the state of Hawai‘i’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement for interisland passengers, except for those considered by the government to be traveling for essential work or needs.

“This virus has presented an unprecedented test for all of us who call Hawai‘i home, and we are glad to be able to support the exceptional and important work our medical providers are carrying out across our islands each day to meet our state’s healthcare needs and help us overcome this challenge,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram.

“Mahalo to Hawaiian Airlines for your leadership and support during this critical time,” said Jill Hoggard Green, president and CEO, The Queen’s Health Systems. “This extraordinary gesture of aloha will allow our physicians, nurses and staff to continue to provide essential, innovative and compassionate care where it is needed most, and to help our communities stay safe.”

“The doctors of Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated appreciate Hawaiian Airlines facilitating us travelling to Critical Access Hospitals across the state and particularly to isolated communities on Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i,” said HEPA President Dr. Craig Thomas and Vice President of Operations Dr. Katherine Heinzen Jim, whose physician-owned group consists of 100-plus board-certified physicians. “Without your kōkua we would be unable to care for our communities. Mahalo nui loa.”

Effective April 4, Hawaiian will be providing a total of 16 daily roundtrip flights with Boeing 717 aircraft between Honolulu (HNL) on O‘ahu and Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA) on the Island of Hawai‘i, Kahului (OGG) on Maui, and Līhu‘e (LIH) on Kaua‘i. For travelers not originating in or bound for O‘ahu, the schedule was carefully created to offer three daily roundtrips via HNL to all Neighbor Islands. 

The airline will also keep serving both Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i from Honolulu with ATR-42 aircraft operated by ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, which is also providing all-cargo service with ATR-72 aircraft carrying critical goods statewide.

Details on Hawaiian’s revised schedule are available here.

In the meantime, Hawaiian has suspended service between HNL and Pago Pago (PPG) for at least 30 days at the request of the American Samoan government which is seeking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The airline, which is pausing once-weekly service through at least April 23, remains in close contact with the U.S. territory and stands ready to resume flights as soon as permitted to do so.

For more information about how Hawaiian is supporting travelers and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the carrier’s COVID-19 hub.

Gov. Ige Signs Fourth Supplementary Proclamation

Additional Details on Interisland Travel Restrictions

Gov. David Ige today signed a fourth supplementary proclamation that requires all residents and visitors traveling between any of the islands in the State of Hawai‘i to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Those who must travel to perform an essential function, including those providing and seeking medical care, will have to fill out and sign an Interisland Declaration Form, wear appropriate protective gear – primarily masks, and follow all social distancing requirements.

The quarantine mandate takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wed., Apr. 1. Violations of this order could result in a misdemeanor with fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to one year in prison, or both. If you have questions about whether your travel is essential, please e-mail CovidExemption@hawaii.gov.

Governor Ige Extends Condolences to Family of First COVID-19 Patient

An older adult O‘ahu resident, who was hospitalized with multiple medical issues, is the first person in Hawai‘i diagnosed with COVID-19 to die. Gov. Ige, Lt. Gov. Josh Green, State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson, and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency Director Kenneth Hara all expressed sorrow for the loss of one of Hawai‘i’s kupuna and offered their condolences to the family. The exact cause of  death has not been determined.

Municipal Golf Course in Hilo Closed Until Further Notice

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation announced on Tuesday that amid the COVID-19 pandemic the Hilo Municipal Golf Course will be closed until further notice, effective on April 1.

Golf Course staff will continue to work throughout this closure period maintaining and improving the golf course for when it reopens for play.

“The purpose for this closure is manifold, but primarily addresses public and personnel safety issues that have surfaced while we accommodated the continued play of golf over the first six days of Governor Ige’s Stay-At-Home order,” said Roxcie Waltjen, Director of Parks and Recreation.

“We will continually assess the appropriate date for reopening of the facility along with any modified policies that must be implemented in order to do so safely and responsibly for all those impacted” Waltjen said.

Additionally, the golf pro shop and driving range at the course will be closed until further notice effective April 1. The restaurant at the course was closed indefinitely on March 25.

For further information, contact the Hilo Municipal Golf Course starters office at (808) 959-7711.

Visitors No Longer Allowed at NHCH

To ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, no visitors are allowed at Queen’s North Hawai’i Community Hospital until further notice.

Limited exceptions may be made in certain situations such as pediatric or maternity patients and end-of- life care; additional screening will be required.

Friends and family members are asked to consider using technology to stay connected and offer support remotely. Free Wi-Fi is available for all patients and phones are available in all patient rooms. Call the hospital operator at 885-4444 to be connected to a patient room.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this visitation restriction may cause. This is a very important way to limit the risk of possible exposure to COVID-19 for our patients, staff and community. We know that visitors and loved ones play an essential role as partners in healing and wellness. The visitation restriction will be reevaluated daily and removed as soon as conditions allow.

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.

Letter to Trump: Stop Non-Essential Travel to Hawaii

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking other Hawaii county mayors as well as Governor Ige to sign a letter to President Trump asking to stop all non-essential travel into Hawaii until the end of April.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reports that the number of passengers flying into Hawaii continues to drop.

Yesterday, 681 people arrived in Hawaii on the fifth day of the state’s 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for all incoming passengers. Of that number, 121 people were visitors.

Most of the passengers were either returning residents or crew members. In comparison, during this same time last year, more than 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state on March 30th.

Colmenares Jr., Appointed as Administrator of State Health Planning & Development Agency

Gov. David Ige has appointed Serafin “Jun” Colmenares Jr. as the administrator of the State Health Planning & Development Agency (SHPDA). Previously, Colmenares Jr. was the acting administrator for the agency and concurrently serving as SHPDA Comprehensive Health Planning Coordinator, in which he provided staffing for health planning councils in West Oahu, Windward Oahu, Kauai and Maui.

Serafin “Jun” Colmenares Jr.

As administrator, Colmenares oversees the State’s Certificate of Need (CON) program which regulates the construction, expansion, initiation or modification of a health care facility or services in the State of Hawaii. In addition, he has oversight of the State’s Health Services and Facilities Plan which addresses the health care needs of the State including inpatient care, healthcare facilities and special needs. The plan reflects the most economical and efficient system of care commensurate with adequate qualify of care and includes standards for utilization of health care facilities and major medical equipment.

“Jun’s expertise and wealth of experience in public health planning is a welcome addition to the Department of Health,” said Bruce Anderson, health director. “His experience in capacity building and community collaboration will be highly beneficial for enhancing the health care needs of our island community.”

Under his direction, SHPDA is also responsible for collecting health care utilization data from providers across the State which is produced into an annual Utilization Report.  The report is used as a tool to assess health care services utilization, trends, needs, and costs by Certificate of Need (CON) applicants, providers, health market analysts, economists, researchers, etc.

Colmenares Jr. holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in addition to master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Delhi in India. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a graduate certificate in governmental management from Mindanao State University in the Philippines.

Prior to joining SHPDA, Colmenares Jr. established and served as executive director of the Office of Language Access between 2007 and 2015. During that time, he earned the 2013 William J. Harris Equal Opportunity Award from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, for achieving a national standard of excellence in the development and implementation of an effective equal opportunity program in Hawaii.

Colmenares Jr. has also held positions at the Executive Office on Aging, Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) and East West Center Population Institute.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency (SHPDA) promotes accessibility for all the people of the State of Hawaii to quality health care services at reasonable cost.  SHPDA supports the most economical and efficient use of the health care system and resources through coordinated community planning of new health care services and construction.  For more information, visithttps://health.hawaii.gov/shpda/.

Hawai‘i to Receive at Least $4 Billion in Federal COVID-19 Relief Funding

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that Hawai‘i is set to receive at least $4 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding.

“Billions of dollars in federal money are on the way,” said Sen. Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This new funding will support state and local response efforts and help Hawai‘i families and businesses struggling to get by.”

Key funding for Hawai‘i includes:

  • $1.25 billion to help fund state and county government response efforts;
  • $1.14 billion in estimated unemployment assistance;
  • $1.24 billion in estimated direct cash payments to Hawai‘i residents;
  • $130 million in estimated funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • $53 million to support local schools and colleges during the pandemic;
  • $11 million for Hawai‘i’s community health centers;
  • $8 million in Community Development Block Grants;

Millions more in federal money for Hawai‘i will go to additional health care, education, public transportation, and housing programs.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Survey

The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, supported by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are conducting this brief survey on contact tracing of the COVID-19 in Hawaii. The information will be used to trace the potential spread of the infection. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete.     

Benefits and Risks:  The results of the survey will help us to identify people who may have been exposed to the COVID-19. There are no direct benefits to the participants from taking this survey. 

Voluntary Participation:  Your participation in this project is voluntary. If you prefer not to answer a question, you may skip that question. If you prefer not to complete the survey, you can close the browser to disregard the survey. 

Privacy and Confidentiality:  At the conclusion of the survey, you will be asked to provide your age, gender, email, and phone number. This information will be available only to the research team to be used in summary form and to check for the representativeness of the sample and the accuracy of the results. All data will be kept confidential and in a secure database. Authorized agencies, including the University of Hawaii Human Studies Program, may review research records but individual records will not be released publicly. The data in summary tables will be used in reports and publications, and shared with the participating organizations and individuals upon request.   

Questions:  If you have questions regarding this survey, please contact the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at 1-808-956-0600, Mr. Eric Yamashita (ericyama@hawaii.edu) or Dr. Jiwnath Ghimire (jiwnath@hawaii.edu).  

You may contact the UH Human Studies Program at 1-808-956-5007 or uhirb@hawaii.edu to discuss the research protocol. For information on your rights as a research participant, please visit https://www.hawaii.edu/researchcompliance/information-research-participants.      

Completion of the survey serves as consent to participate in this study.

DOE Expands Grab-and-Go Student Meal Program

The Hawaii Department of Education has expanded the Grab-and-Go Student meal program to the following schools:

Note that breakfast is served from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to noon. For food safety, meals must be consumed by 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.