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Ka‘ū News Briefs, Thursday, May 14, 2020

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Nāʻālehu's Independence Day Parade for this year is canceled. Sponsored by ʻO Kaʻū Kākou and the Discovery Harbour
family of Lee and Debra McIntosh, the program is paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.
See more below. Photo by Leilani Esperanza

A COVID-19 CONTACT TRACING PARTNERSHIP is bringing University of Hawaiʻi and the state Department of Health together. With funding of $2.5 million, they plan to train personnel and community health workers in contact tracing. Health experts say extensive contact tracing is a key component to prevent spread of the virus while relaxing stay-at-home-orders and restarting Hawaiʻi's economy.
     At the peak of the first COVID-19 wave, DOH trained more than 100 contact tracers, including some 30 volunteers from UH and DOH with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, medicine, and nursing. The new one-year program will leverage UH faculty expertise and existing courses across the ten-campus system to quickly develop content for the contact tracing training.
     UH President David Lassner said, "This has been a brainchild of State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park and UH's own Dr. Aimee Grace, who leads our UHealthy Hawaiʻi Initiative at the UH System. We believe that these programs to expand the number of contract tracers and community health workers will really help protect all of Hawaiʻi's communities."
     The plan is to train approximately 300 contact tracers. Some with appropriate backgrounds could be ready in two to three days. Others, needing more training, could be ready in two to three months, depending on their backgrounds and the university's capacity for the training. DOH would activate the trained contact tracers, as needed. Some could become emergency hires in the event of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
University of Hawaiʻi and state Department of Health will use $2.5 million in funding to train personnel and
community health workers in contact tracing to stem coronavirus. Photo from University of Hawaiʻi
     At a May 13 news conference with Gov. David Ige, DOH Director Bruce Anderson said, "With 300 staff to extend the capacity for monitoring and investigation, we expect to build the capacity up to at least 1,000 cases a day. Hopefully, we will not be approaching anything close to that, but we are planning for the worst and building up our capacity, accordingly."
     UH will offer two tracks for contact tracing training: a course for clinical professionals - approximately two to three days to complete for those with at least an undergraduate degree and a clinical health background; and an intensive contact tracing program - approximately two to three months for those with undergraduate degrees, health sciences preferred. All training content and materials will be approved by the DOH.
     Support will be provided to trainees who complete the program and join the DOH's volunteer Medical Reserve Corps.
     UH Community Colleges will add capacity in the community health worker programs and update curricula so that community health worker graduates will be prepared to support COVID-19 contact tracing as needed.
     A statement from the Hawaiʻi COVID-19 Joint Information Center said, "Health workers are a critical component to contract tracing with their special community-based training and ties to work effectively with identified high-risk populations. Those populations include Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities, which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, along with the unemployed and homeless."
     The course for clinical professionals will be led by Kristine Qureshi, Associate Dean for Research and Global Health and emergency preparedness expert at the UH Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. The intensive contact tracing program will be led by Ricardo Custodio, Associate Professor of Health Science at UH West Oʻahu.
     Anyone interested in the contact tracing or community health worker training can contact COVID19@HAWAII.EDU.

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.

REP. TULSI GABBARD AND LT. GOV. JOSH GREEN joined in a telephone town hall this week to update Hawaiʻi residents about the coronavirus crisis. Listen to the full tele-town hall.
     Gabbard stressed that "Opening Hawaiʻi safely will require vigilant testing and contact tracing. As an island state, we are in a unique position to do this effectively. This should have been implemented in full force from the start of the outbreak, and we can't responsibly move forward without it."
     Gabbard noted that she will be in Washington, D.C. on Friday to vote on a new emergency assistance bill, H.R.6800, the Heroes Act. It would provide financial resources to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. Some $3.3 billion would go to Hawaiʻi, divided between the state, counties, and municipalities, over two years.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during one of her telephone town halls. Photo from Tulsi Gabbard
     The Heroes Act also includes $200 billion to provide hazard pay to essential workers, nationwide. It provides funding to help those hit hardest by the crisis. It includes an employee retention credit, additional funding to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs, $175 billion in housing assistance, additional funding for nutrition programs that help families put food on the table, education, and an extension of the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits payments until January 2021.
     The legislation would also provide a second $1,200 direct payment to all individuals, including dependents, up to $6,000 per household. Rep. Gabbard was the first in Congress to call for a monthly direct payment to continue as long as the crisis continues, and she will continue to fight for a monthly emergency basic payment to provide certainty for Americans during this crisis, said Gabbard.
     Gabbard expressed concern that the Heroes Act was crafted without Republican or White House negotiations. She predicted that Friday's vote will only be a starting point before a bipartisan consensus is achieved to pass a final bill, which would meet the critical needs of first responders, frontline workers, and families.
     The Lieutenant Governor gave an update on Hawaiʻi's success in flattening the curve. He noted that while the risk has gone down, it is still important to maintain social distancing, mask-wearing, and personal hygiene.
     Gabbard and Green answered questions on the call about the next steps, as Hawaiʻi begins to open back up. They emphasized the importance of testing and contact tracing as the keys to reopening.
     Gabbard also answered questions related to the safety of elections, noting the funding and language in the Heroes Act to ensure every voter can access voting by mail for the November 2020 election.

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.

Thy Word Ministries and its patriotic float in the 2019 Nāʻālehu Independence Day Parade. The 2020 event, sponsored
by OKK and the McIntosh family, is canceled due to the pandemic. Photo by Peter Anderson
NĀʻĀLEHU'S INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE is canceled for this year, according to Wayne Kawachi, President of ʻO Kaʻū Kākou, the major sponsoring organization. The annual event features floats, horses and riders, walking groups, and classic vehicles along the Hwy 11 route through Nāʻālehu. Most creative and most patriotic presentations are named.
     To put on the event, OKK works with the McIntosh family of Discovery Harbour.
     
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.

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB, THE FOOD BASKET, AND ACTIVATE HAWAIʻI AID will receive money from Hawaiian Electric and Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation. The nonprofit organizations feed people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic on this island, including residents of Kaʻū and Volcano. To each non-profit, the utility is donating $2,000 and the Foundation, $5,000.
     A statement from the utility says the biggest concern and priority on Hawai‘i Islandis food security. The donations to The Boys & Girls Club of the BigIsland, The Food Basket, and Activate Hawai‘i Aid are intended to "support their ongoing efforts to provide fresh produce, shelf-stable food, and prepared meals to Hawai‘i Islandfamilies."

     Sharon Suzuki, Hawaiian Electric's president of MauiCounty and Hawai‘i Island Utilities, said, "Communities count on us to provide reliable electric service to operate essential businesses and support new stay-at-home lifestyles. It's also important for us to do what we can to help those who are struggling with basic needs. I'm grateful these three organizations are working together to meet Hawai‘i Island's food security needs during this very tough time."

     Through its daily Community Meal Support Initiative, the Boys & Girls Club of the BigIsland provides nutritional hot meals to the island's most vulnerable populations including keiki, kūpuna, homeless, and struggling families. Their efforts help fill shortfalls and resource gaps, especially in very rural communities that are unable to benefit from school-based cafeteria meals due to lack of transportation. Last month, it provided more than 18,000 meals and it now provides up to 800 meals daily. Through this donation, BGCBI can provide 1,272 meals for the community.

     Chad Cabral, Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Club Big Island, said "The continued support of Hawaiian Electric and the HEI Charitable Foundation has allowed the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island to be able to quickly respond to the needs of those on Hawai‘i Island who are struggling as a result of the pandemic. Thank you for a true partnership that helps to support and strengthen our Hawai‘i Island communities."

     The Food Basket provides ʻOhana Drop boxes which include a multi-day supply of shelf-stable food and local fresh produce for individuals and families. It offers drive-thru food distribution at 16 sites around the island and home delivery for those with limited transportation or compromised health. Through this donation, The Food Basket is able to purchase 5,000 pounds of food for the community.

     Kristin Frost Albrecht, executive director of The Food Basket, said "We are so extremely grateful to HEI and Hawaiian Electric for their long-time partnership and generous support to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable residents on Hawai‘i Island. Given the skyrocketing number of families and individuals in need in our hard-hit communities across the island, this donation will provide critical food support during this unprecedented and challenging time."

     Activate Hawai‘i Aid is a collective of community and government, working together to activate an islandwide network of resilience. The $2,000 donation supported the Keiki Care Packs initiative by providing 2,712 packs to children in more than 30 Hawai‘i Island communities, including Miloliʻi, Nāʻālehu, and Volcano. Learn how to sign up to receive food, below. Each pack includes foodstuffs, curated activities, resources, and materials to help keiki and parents better understand and cope with the pandemic. The additional $5,000 will support the #FeedThePeopleHI - Puna project, a collaboration between Chef Hui and AHA to increase food security for Puna households. Beginning May 15, and every Friday for the next eight weeks, 500 meal kits with ingredients and recipe cards for one-to-two big batch meals will be distributed to communities in upper and lower Puna subdivisions.
     Ashley Kierkiewicz, lead organizer for Activate Hawai‘i Aid, said, "Many hands and many huis have come together to do something special for our keiki and community. So much thought, aloha, and planning goes into each project, and because it is a massive, ongoing give, working with community leaders is key. We rely on generous donations such as those from Hawaiian Electric, so we can activate our volunteer network and amplify our give."


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 FOR KEIKI CARE PACKS by Friday, May 15, for distribution the week of May 25, through Activate Hawai‘i Aid. Specific pick-up days, times, and locations are posted to the calendar at activatehawaiiaid.org/keiki-care-packs. Those who sign up are notified via email and/or text to confirm pick-up date and location, at least 48 hours in advance.
     RSVP for keiki pack(s) by taking the Community Pulse Survey online or by calling the Food Access Hotline at 808-793-5703. For those who have already filled out the survey and just want to RSVP for the next distribution, the survey has been modified to ask only questions related to their RSVP.

Volunteers don masks and gloves to distribute Keiki Care Packs
in Miloliʻi. Photo from Activate Hawaiʻi Aid
     Care packs are distributed by drive-thru. Recipients are asked to stay in their vehicles to maintain safe social distancing. Home deliveries are generally not available; however, a few case-by-case exceptions may be made, when resources permit.

     The organization's website asks the public to "be understanding if we are unable to provide you the full number of Keiki Care Pack(s) for which you have RSVP'd. A limit per household may be implemented at the time of distribution if demand exceeds our supply. We are working diligently to make sure this does not occur, but please be patient with us if it does."

     Each pack contains approximately $15 worth of items for kids and young teens, including non-perishable foodstuffs (e.g. canned meats, packaged goods, snacks, cookies, fruit cups, juice, etc.) and curated coloring sheets, activities, and resources "to help children better understand the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as materials to support parents to engage their keiki and cope with the stresses of living through this pandemic." Each round of care packs is different; contents will vary based on what is available from local distributors and community partners.

     Activate Hawaiʻi Aid schedules islandwide distributions of Keiki Care Packs once per month. They started with 1,000 packs in 13 communities in March 2020; in April, it was 2,700 packs in two dozen communities. Packs are assembled in Hilo in an environment that mitigates COVID-19 exposure risk and trucked to distribution locations in every district on Hawaiʻi Island. 
Keiki Care Packs, delivered to Volcano. Photo from Activate Hawaiʻi Aid
     Activate Hawaiʻi Aid is partnered with Connect Point Church in Hilo to purchase products and stage distribution. All volunteers are screened and vetted before being confirmed to serve. All involved in packing must wear masks and gloves, and each packing shift is limited to no more than 10 people. Captains ensure that proper social distancing, hand washing, and disinfecting protocols are being adhered to in both packing and distribution. Packs are organized so that they will be touched as little as possible to avoid contamination or cross-contamination.

     The Activate Hawaiʻi Aid website says, "We are constantly fundraising to support this program and would love for your kōkua. All coordination, packing, and distribution efforts are volunteered, which means all money donated to this program goes to care packs! You can either click here to donate via our fiscal partner or volunteer to help us with our hotline or packaging and distribution of packs by emailing us at aloha@activatehawaiiaid.org. Our goal is to provide a Keiki Care Pack to every child in need on Hawai‘i Island each month. We appreciate your help!​"

     Activate Hawaiʻi Aid started the Keiki Care Pack program during the pandemic: "Going to school means so much to our keiki. It's a place for socialization, structure, and extracurricular activities. For many, it's a source of support and a place where essential services, such as breakfast and lunch, can be accessed. Our schools provide a safety net, but COVID-19 has upended that. Due to extended school closures by the DOE, a hui of parents joined forces with Activate Hawai‘i Aid to figure out a way to support our keiki. We wanted to do something that served their physical and emotional well-being. Hence, the Keiki Care Packs program was born."

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 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
NO NEW CASES OF COVID-19 were reported in the entire state today. The state Department of Health reported that one case was removed, bringing down the total count during the pandemic to 637 in the Hawaiian Islands. No one died on this island and only one victim was hospitalized for one night. One victim was reported as being from the 96672 zip code. No other victims were confirmed in Kaʻū nor Volcano.
     The daily message from Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Director Talmadge Magno says, "There are no identified positive Coronavirus cases on Hawaiʻi Island at this date. All that was tested positive has been cleared as recovered.
     "To all the Health care organizations and supporting agencies, thank you for your good and hard work of developing and continuing a comprehensive testing network for the safety of Hawaiʻi's people.
Civil Defense Director 
Talmadge Magno.
Photo from Big Island Video News
     "Know that early testing means early detection and early care. By your participation, you are helping develop a comprehensive database of information for Health Care officials to keep on top of things so they can respond appropriately and timely.
     "Please understand the good place that Hawaiʻi is in today just reflects the importance of following the policies of prevention. The virus is still out there and we need to get better to keep Hawaiʻi safe! Thank you for doing your part. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. his is your Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense."
     In the United States, more than 1.45 million cases have been confirmed. The death toll is over 86,541.
     Worldwide, more than 4.44 million have contracted COVID-19. The death toll is over 302,376.

directory for farms, ranches, takeout. Print 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 May.

MOST EVENTS ARE CANCELLED 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.
     A testing team from Aloha Critical Care in Kona will provide testing at St. Jude's every other Wednesday. The next date is May 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
     The next drive-thru screening at Nāʻālehu Community Center will be held Wednesday, May 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 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 & Prevention 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 pen to fill in forms.
     For further information, call Civil Defense at 935-0031.

ʻO Kaʻū Kākou Market in Nāʻālehu is open three days per week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – from 8 a.m. to noon. The goal is no more than 50 customers on the grounds at a time. Vendor booths per day are limited to 25, with 30 feet of space between vendors. Masks and hand sanitizing are required to attend the market. Social distancing will be enforced. A wide selection of fresh vegetables and fruits, prepared take away foods, assorted added value foods, breads and baked goods, honey, cheese, grass-fed beef, fish, vegetable plants, masks, handmade soaps, coffee, and more are offered on various days. Contact Sue Barnett, OKK Market Manager, at 808-345-9374, for more and to apply to vend.


Volcano Farmers Market at Cooper Center on Wright Road, off of Old Volcano Highway, is open on Sundays from  to , with much local produce, island beef, and prepared foods. Call 808-967-7800.



Free Breakfast and Lunch for Anyone Eighteen and Under is available at Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary and at Nāʻālehu Elementary weekdays through May. 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 was Kahuku Park on Monday, May 11, 10 a.m. to noon. Call The Food Basket, 933-6030, for the next date.
     The Nāʻālehu location 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 Tuesday, May 26,  Call The Food Basket, 933-6030.
     The Volcano location is Cooper Center at 19-4030 Wright Road Wednesday, May 27 from 10 a.m. to noon. Call Kehau at 443-4130.



On-Call Emergency Box Food Pantry is open at Cooper Center Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Call 967-7800 to confirm.

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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