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Ka‘ū News Briefs, Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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Hawai‘i Diaper Bank issues diapers, wipes, and other essentials to families in need through non-profit organizations
on-island, like Salvation Army. Read more below. Photo from 
Hawai‘i Diaper Bank


HOW DO BUSINESSES REOPEN WITH WORKPLACE SAFETY? Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi recommends reading the U.S. Chamber of Commerce summary of Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control guidance. It is designed for employers to protect workers as they maintain or resume operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The summary describes OSHA's comments and addresses three of the main questions: How should employers protect their employees? Do employers have to record cases of COVID-19 on their injury logs? How will OSHA conduct enforcement related to Coronavirus? Click here to read the guide.


To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

SERVICE DISCONNECTIONS ARE SUSPENDED FOR NONPAYMENT TO HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC through June 30. The utility announced the extension "to ensure customers' electricity needs are met as stay-at-home orders are extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

     "Customers should NOT worry about their power being shut off due to nonpayment through the end of June, and any threat of immediate disconnection unless payment is made received before June 30 should be treated as a scam. Customers experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic are urged to contact Hawaiian Electric to discuss payment arrangements and options."

     Hawaiian Electric continues its modified operations on Hawaiʻi Island, Oʻahu, and in MauiCounty to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus, which includes extending the closure of its walk-in payment centers through June 30. To ensure electric service is not disrupted, the utility has postponed projects and work that would require customer outages, unless it is deemed critical for safety or reliability. Emergency work, including outage restoration and repairs to ensure public safety such as replacing damaged poles, remains a priority.

     Meter reading has been scaled back since late March. While meters for commercial accounts are being read, bills for residential accounts may have been estimated based on the previous month's usage. Plans call for resuming residential meter reading in the coming weeks, and residents are asked "to please kokua and practice social distancing for the safety of our community and our employees."
     With most households adhering to stay-at-home orders, says the utility, residential customer bills may be higher once their meters are read and bills reflect actual electricity usage.
     Customers who are having difficulty paying their electric bill are urged to contact Customer Service so payment options and schedules can be arranged to help keep payments manageable. While customers will still be responsible for paying their electric bills, payment schedules and other options can help ease the financial challenges for those most affected by the COVID-19 situation.
     The quickest way to start the process is to fill out and submit a Payment Arrangement Request Form at hawaiianelectric.com/customerserviceoptions. Households in need of utility payment assistance that meet the 60 percent state median gross annual income limit – $30,767 for an individual, $59,167 for a family of four – may be eligible for up to $1,000 of LIHEAP COVID-19 Disaster Energy Crisis Intervention Assistance. Visit Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council at hceoc.net.

     For assistance managing energy costs during this time, Hawaiʻi Energy "is a trusted resource for tips and rebates to help offset the costs of energy-saving equipment and services," says Hawaiian Electric. For more information, please visit hawaiienergy.com/tips or call 808-537-5577.


To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.


HAWAIʻI RANKS 14TH NATIONALLY IN SUPPORT SYSTEMS FOR AT-RISK POPULATIONS DURING THE PANDEMIC. That's according to a WalletHub study that explains:

     "The coronavirus might be twice as contagious as experts initially thought, and the risk of serious symptoms has proven to be more pronounced in some populations than others. For example, 89 percent of adults hospitalized for COVID-19 have a pre-existing condition, and nearly 75 percent are over age 50. However, it's not just the elderly, immunocompromised, and other physically vulnerable populations who are at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
     "In addition to its physical toll, coronavirus is putting significant strain on the finances of American households, which could spell big trouble for people who were already under pressure financially. People with low incomes are less equipped to weather the economic downturn caused by coronavirus, and some states have bigger problems on the horizon than others.

     "In order to determine the states with the best support systems to protect at-risk populations from COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 17 key metrics. Our data set includes factors like whether the state will offer a free coronavirus vaccine once one exists and whether it has adopted long-distance healthcare technology. It also includes metrics such as the coronavirus relief fund per capita and the share of households in poverty receiving social assistance. Read on for the state ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a complete description of our methodology."

     The AlohaState ranks 6th in Unemployment Support, 16th in Coronavirus Relief & Medical Services, but 50th in Food and Housing Assistance.

     Hawaiʻi has the 49th lowest share of Sheltered Homeless, and 50th lowest number of Permanent Supportive Housing Beds per Homeless Population.


To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.


Keliʻi Akina
HOW WILL THE STATE AFFORD TO PAY PENSIONS with the investment climate expected over the next year? That's the issue in an analysis from Grassroot Hawaiʻi: "If you think Hawaiʻi's unfunded public pension liabilities of $14 billion are daunting now, brace yourself for what they could be in just a short while," says Keliʻi Akina, the organization's President. He points to a new tool from the California-based Reason Foundation, which shows that if the system's investments decline significantly during the next year, thanks to the coronavirus recession, its total unfunded liabilities "could go through the roof. Developed by the foundation's Pension Integrity Project, the tool estimates that an investment value decline of between 5 percent and 25 percent would increase the system's unfunded liabilities to between $16.5 billion and $20 billion.
     He also points to a financial stress test by the ERS's own managers, which shows that if the system's investments decline in value by 20 percent this year and returns are only 5 percent in subsequent years, its unfunded liabilities could triple by fiscal 2049 to $44 billion.
     Grassroot Institute concludes: "That would threaten the ability of the system to pay the benefits it has promised to Hawaiʻi's retired public employees. It also would bust the budgets of the state and counties, which presumably would turn to Hawaiʻi's taxpayers to help bail them out.
     "According to the Pension Integrity Project, a 5 percent decrease in the value of the ERS portfolio would put Hawaiʻi residents on the hook for $11,625 per person; a 25 percent drop, $14,047. It would be the third worst per-capita public pension debt in the nation, behind only Alaska and Illinois."
     According to Akina, "Normally such projections might seem like crying wolf, but these are not normal times. The nation is reeling because of economic troubles triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, and there is no telling how deep state pension fund losses around the nation, including Hawaiʻi, could go."
     He points out that Grassroot Institute of Hawaiʻi has been warning for years about the growing unfunded liabilities of the state Employees' Retirement System. Akina said the current situation truly is a wake-up call. "When the public pension system is in trouble, so are taxpayers and retired public workers."
     With tax revenues also falling because of the recession, he said, state and county lawmakers will find it harder to pour more money into the fund, and taxpayers need to be on guard against any new tax-increase proposals to bail out the fund.
     "Hawaiʻi policymakers could have prepared for a black swan event such as this long before," Akina said. "Now Hawaiʻi's leaders will need to have difficult conversations about the long-term sustainability of the public pension system. Reforms such as new plan options for new employees, changes in vesting periods, and an end to pension spiking could help mitigate against further unfunded liabilities."
     The Grassroot Institute of Hawaiʻi issued a detailed report in January 2019, "How to resolve Hawaiʻi's public pension crisis," about ways Hawaiʻi's public pension system could be made financially sustainable.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

Gary Hooser
IT'S TIME FOR THE LEGISLATORS TO GO BACK TO WORK, proclaims former state Senator and HAPA President Gary Hooser. In a recent opinion piece:

     "Ensuring health care for the recently unemployed, standing up health screening/testing at airports, supporting local agriculture and food-self sufficiency, implementing remote testimony capability, passing automatic voter registration, and preserving the hard-fought Earned Income Tax Credit and increases in Hawaiʻi's minimum wage are just a few of the critical items that must be addressed," he said, on behalf of his non-profit Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action.

     "Kick-starting and diversifying our economy, implementing critical 'Green New Deal' job-creating programs that focus on energy and food independence, and environmental resource management, also require urgent attention.

     "With most of Hawaiʻi either unemployed or otherwise fearing for their economic future, we are counting on you who were elected to represent our best interest, to in fact do your job. There are no valid reasons to put off this important work."

     Hooser contends that, "the additional cost of an extended session is minimal as legislators and their core staff are paid year-round anyway. The cost of 'session staff' and other incidental expenses are likewise minor in scope. Public hearings and 'floor sessions' can be conducted utilizing a combination of remote 'Zoom type' technology and basic old fashion 'social distancing.' House/Senate rules may need changing but that also is easily accomplished so long as the Senate President and House Speaker agree. Many other state legislatures and our own County Councils continue conducting their business in this manner, and there is no reason the Hawaiʻi State Legislature cannot do the same.

     "Putting off these critical issues until 2021 will not serve us well. Please, reconvene the 2020 legislative session and extend into a special session if necessary. Do the work, until the work is done. Take whatever time is needed to accomplish the many tasks that await your attention.

     "Now is the time for Hawaiʻi's legislative leadership to rise to the occasion. We need you now more than ever before to show us what you got.
     "Tell Hawaiʻi's legislators that it's time to go back to work. Please take action today, email legislators, before May 1 if at all possible."

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

RIMPAC WILL GO FORWARD, WITH WAR GAMES IN HAWAIIAN WATERS, but little landing on the islands. The international military exercise, held every other year, is postponed to Aug. 17 through 31. The exercises are normally held in June and July. RIMPAC 2020, "Capable, Adaptive, Partners," will cancel any "social events" normally held ashore, according to a statement from Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Oʻahu "will be accessible for logistics support, with a minimal footprint of staff ashore for command and control, logistics, and other support functions," according to the statement.

A photo of ships participating in RIMPAC exercises. Photo from cpf.navy.mil
     This year's exercise will include multinational anti-submarine warfare, maritime intercept operations, and live-fire training events, among other cooperative training opportunities between international maritime agencies from all over the world. Continued planning "will remain flexible as Navy leaders monitor and assess evolving circumstances."

     Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet crafted the modified RIMPAC plan "as a way to conduct a meaningful exercise with maximum training value and minimum risk to the force, allies and partners, and the people of Hawaiʻi."

     The world's largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific is "designed to foster and sustain cooperative relationships, critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region." The exercise, which takes place in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, "is a unique training platform designed to enhance interoperability and strategic maritime partnerships." In 2018, 26 nations participated in and around Hawaiʻi.

     Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. John Aquilino, said, "In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that our maritime forces work together to protect vital shipping lanes and ensure freedom of navigation through international waters. And we will operate safely, using prudent mitigation measures. We remain committed to and capable of safeguarding allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The flexible approach to RIMPAC 2020 strikes the right balance between combating future adversaries and the COVID-19 threat."
     RIMPAC 2020 will be led by Commander, U.S.3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Scott D. Conn.


No COVID-19 cases so far in the zip code areas of Volcano, 
Pāhala, and Ocean View. White indicates zero cases, light 
yellow indicates one to five cases. The 96772 area in 
Kaʻū has one case recorded. Map from DOH
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

NO NEW CASES OF COVID-19 were reported for Hawaiʻi Island today. Of the 70 victims, 53 have beenh released from isolation. The remainder are quarantined at home and monitored by state Department of Health. One person was hospitalized and released after one night. No one died of COVID-19 on this island.
     The daily message from Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno sends out thanks to Premier Medical, Hawaiʻi National Guard, and County Task Force for conducting free COVID-19 testing at Nāʻālehu Community Center today.
     Magno said, "The Island and State of Hawaiʻi are doing well in minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. It is so important to ramp up all preventive measures so we will do better. Know that all the policies of physical distancing, gatherings, face coverings, cleanliness, and personal health have one major goal, help stop the spreading of the virus. Your help is needed to keep Hawaiʻi safe; we need to do our share especially by heeding the policies of prevention. To all:  Do your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus and help keep Hawaiʻi Safe. Thank you for listening, please take care of each other. This is your Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense."

Civil Defense Director 
Talmadge Magno.
Photo from Big Island Video News
     Statewide, four new cases were reported today by DOH, bringing the state's case count to 613. The state death toll is 16.
     In the United States, more than 1.06 million cases have been confirmed. Recovery is about 123,000. The death toll is over 61,350.

     Worldwide, more than 3.19 million have contracted COVID-19. Recovery is at least 972,124. The death toll is 227,368.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

SIGN UP TO RECEIVE FREE DIAPERS through the Hawai‘i Diaper Bank. The Bank provides free diapers, wipes, and other essentials via non-profit organizations on the island, which distribute to families in need.

Available diaper sizes may be limited; follow Hawai‘i
Diaper Bank
and The Salvation Army on Facebook
for updates. Photo from Hawai‘i Diaper Bank
     Diaper Bank founder and President Jessica Histo said the pandemic has seen their requests at least double, and she expects that increased demand to continue "for some time. Families who would not normally use welfare and other charitable services will need extra help. Everyone is seeing the increase in need," she said. "Thanks to The Salvation Army," which Histo said is providing more distribution, "Hawai‘i Diaper Bank will be able to provide diapers to families that are not otherwise receiving monthly donations."

     The Salvation Army Hilo Temple Corps will distribute from its headquarters at 
219 Ponahawai St.
 on Tuesdays and Fridays from  to  Families will fill out a form upon arrival to receive diapers once a month. Histo said diaper sizes are limited and that wipes are "particularly hard to come by," during the pandemic. For updates, follow Hawaiʻi Diaper Bank and The Salvation Army on Facebook.

     Hawaiʻi Diaper Bank is a community project under fiscal sponsorship of Hawaiʻi Children's Action Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Bank's mission is to "serve and support the keiki of Hawaiʻi by providing our much-needed donations to organizations that assist low-income families with young children.

     "Hawaiʻi Diaper Bank believes that no child should suffer from diaper need, and that all children deserve access to clean, dry diapers. Access to diapers improves the physical, mental, and economic well-being of babies, families, and communities." Learn more at hawaiidiaperbank.org, email info@hawaiidiaperbank.org, or call 808-385-1167.

Read online at kaucalendar.comSee our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar directory for farms, 
ranches, takeoutPrint edition of The Kaʻū Calendar is free, with 7,500 distributed on stands and 
to all postal addresses throughout Kaʻū, from Miloliʻi through Volcano throughout the district. 
Read online at kaucalendar.com and facebook.com/kaucalendar. To advertise your business or
your social cause, contact kaucalendarads@gmail.com.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our Fresh Food on The Kaʻū Calendar and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.

Daily, weekly, and monthly recurring Kaʻū and Volcano Events, Meetings, Entertainment, Exercise, Meditation, and more are listed at kaucalendar.com. However, all non-essential activities are canceled through the end of April.

MOST EVENTS ARE CANCELLED for the month of April, to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state is under a stay-at-home order, with l4 days of quarantine required for anyone coming into the state. Interisland travel is restricted. Those in Hawaiʻi should stay at home unless needing to obtain food or medical care.

ONGOING
Free COVID-19 Screenings are at Bay Clinic during business hours, with appointment. Call 333-3600.
     Beginning Wednesday, May 6, a testing team from Aloha Critical Care in Kona will provide testing at St. Jude's every other Wednesday.
     The next drive-thru screening will be Wednesday, May 13 at Nāʻālehu Community Center from  to  Screening will be carried out by Aliʻi Health, with support from County of Hawai‘i COVID-19 Task Force, Premier Medical Group and Pathways Telehealth.
     Wearing masks is required for everyone.
     To bypass the screening queue at community test sites, patients can call ahead to Pathways Telehealth, option 5 at 808-747-8321. The free clinic will also offer on-site screening to meet testing criteria. Physicians qualify those for testing, under the guidance of Center for Disease Control and Hawaiʻi's COVID-19 Response Task Force.
     Those visiting screening clinics will be asked to show photo ID, and any health insurance cards – though health insurance is not required to be tested. They are also asked to bring their own pens to fill in forms.
     For further information, call Civil Defense at 935-0031.

Free Breakfast and Lunch for Anyone Eighteen and Under is available at Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary and at Nāʻālehu Elementary weekdays through at least the end of April. Each youth must be present to receive a meal. Service is drive-up or walk-up, and social distancing rules (at least six feet away) are observed. Breakfast is served 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Food is being delivered to Ocean View.

St. Jude's Episcopal Church Soup Kitchen is open, with a modified menu and increased health & safety standards, every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hot showers, the computer lab, and in-person services and bible studies are suspended. Services are posted online on Sundays at stjudeshawaii.org.

The Food Basket Food Pantries Distribution, where families can receive 14 days of food per family:

     The Ocean View location for May is to be announced
     The Nāʻālehu location is Sacred Heart Church at 95-558 Mamālahoa Hwy, under their Loaves and Fishes program, on Thursday, May 28 from  to  Call 928-8208.

     The Pāhala location is Kaʻū District Gym at 96-1149 Kamani Street, distributed by the ʻO Kaʻū Kākou Pantry, on Thursday, April 30 at  Call 933-6030.
     The Volcano location is Cooper Center at 19-4030 Wright Road Wednesday, May 27 from 11 a.m. until food runs out. Call Kehau at 443-4130.


On Call Emergency Food Pantry is open at Cooper Center Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon. Call 808-933-6030.

The Next Learning Packet and Student Resource Distribution for Nāʻālehu Elementary School Students will be Monday, May 11. The packets are designed for learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and can be picked up every two weeks. One family member may pick up for several students in the same family. Students need not be present for the learning resources to be retrieved. Please note the grade of each child. Distribution times are organized by the first letter of the student's last name at the site closest to their home. Supplies will be given out simultaneously.
     Everyone is asked to observe social distancing rules, staying 6 feet away from others during pick-up. See the school website, naalehuel.hidoe.us, for more information and updates.
     Distribution at Nāʻālehu Elementary has pick-up from 8 a.m - 8:20 a.m. for A-H;  for I-P, and  for Q-Z.

     Distribution at Discovery Harbour Community Center has pick-up from 8 a.m - 8:20 a.m. for A-H;  for I-P, and  for Q-Z.

     Distribution at Ocean View Mālama Market has pick-up from  for A-H,  for I-P, and  for Q-Z.

     Distribution at Ocean View Community Center has pick-up from  for A-H,  for I-P, and  for Q-Z.
     Those who come to campus to pick up free student breakfasts are encouraged to also pick up their packets at the same time.


Register for Volcano's ʻŌhiʻa Lehua Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and Keiki Dash by Wednesday, July 22. The second annual event will be held on Saturday, July 25. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to University of Hawaiʻi for furthering research of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death and The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences. See webscorer.com to register.

     Half Marathon registration is $70 through May 24, $80 May 25 through July 22, and $90 for late registration. Registration for the 10K is $50 through May 24, $55 May 25 through Jul 22, and $60 for late registration. Registration for the 5K is $35 through May 24, $40 May 25 through July 22, and $45 for late registration. Keiki Dash registration is $10. All registrations are non-transferable and non-refundable.
     Late registration is only available at packet pickup or race day morning. Shirts are not guaranteed for late registration.  Race Shirts will be included for Half Marathon and 10K participants only. For all other participants, shirts are available to purchase online.
     Packet pick-up is scheduled for Thursday, July 23 in Hilo; Friday, July 26 in Volcano; and Saturday, July 27,  at the race start.
     Half Marathon will start at  Other distances follow shortly after. Keiki Dash will begin at  on VSAS grounds, with the option of one or two laps – about 300 meters or 600 meters. Race cut-off time for the Half Marathon is four hours. The races will begin and end in Volcano Village at VSAS.
     See ohialehuahalf.com.

Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium Closed for Renovation through June 30. The Park is closed until further notice due to COVID-19 spread mitigation. A popular seven-and-a-half minute 2018 eruption video will be shown on a television in the exhibits area, once the Park and center reopen, and is available online for free download.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see Facebook. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. See our online calendars and our latest print edition at kaucalendar.com.



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