NEWS | Council District 7 – Honolulu City Council |

(KITV) Unexpected Delay in Honolulu’s “City Card” Program

(SOURCE: KITV)

The $500 cards are valid from 12/7-12/27 but were not sent out last week due to an “unexpected delay,” according to the City’s Office of Economic Revitalization. 

Patrick Williams, of the Office of Economic Revitalization told KITV4 the unexpected delay has been “resolved,” but did not go into more detail. He told KITV4 the cards should be hitting mailboxes this week.

Earlier this month, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the cards to help Oahu residents who have received “Direct hardship relief.” 

3,500 residents will be receiving the cards, fewer than the expected 4,000-6,000.

“The team is trying to get additional cards mailed,” added Williams. 

The cards are valid at Oahu’s grocery and convenience stores. 

(Hawaii News Now) ‘A hopeful moment’: Hawaii preparing to receive first COVID-19 vaccine doses soon

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – The state’s plan to acquire and distribute a coronavirus vaccine ‘may be the largest immunization campaign in the history of our state,’ Governor David Ige said Thursday.

In a press conference from the state Capitol on Thursday, Gov. Ige and other state officials ― including Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Dr. Libby Char, the director of the state Department of Health ― detailed the Health Department’s plan to both acquire and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one has been approved by the federal government.

There was significant movement toward that earlier in the day, when a U.S. advisory panel recommended that the FDA grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“This pandemic has cost Hawaii’s resident so much. Every day, I feel your pain,” said Gov. Ige. “But today marks a hopeful moment in the fight against this pandemic.”

Gov. Ige says the state will begin by acquiring just more than 81,000 doses of the vaccine over the course of December. The Department of Health, meanwhile, has already laid out who the vaccine will be made available to first.

Healthcare workers and both residents and employees of long-term care facilities ― which have been ravaged by the coronavirus across the country, including here in Hawaii ― will be a part of what the Department of Health is calling ‘Phase 1′ of the vaccine distribution plan.

Other priority individuals who work in high-risk environments, including first responders, will also receive vaccines as part of Phase 1.

Phase 2 of the plan includes ‘critical populations not included in Phase 1,’ according to Dr. Char.

And Phase 3 of the plan involves the distribution of the vaccine to the general public.

The coronavirus vaccines are expected to require two doses ― an initial injection, and then a second dose that needs to be administered several weeks later.

Health Department officials say the federal government is working on supplying 81,000 additional doses, which means that the state will be able to vaccine 81,000 people, instead of giving 40,500 two injections each.

And the cost to the state, it appears, will be minimal, since the federal government is paying for the cost of the vaccine, according to Lt. Gov. Green.

“The insurance companies have agreed already to cover those costs,” said Lt. Gov. Green. “We felt very strongly that people should not have to get or not get a vaccine based on their economic state.”

Delivering the vaccine to Hawaii could prove challenging, especially for Pfizer’s vaccine, which requires what is known as ‘ultra-cold’ storage ― temperatures just above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Health industry leaders say vaccine developers have been hard at work developing delivery solutions, especially with regard to locations like Hawaii that require considerable longer shipping times.

“Pfrizer has been working for months to ensure that there is safe distribution of this vaccine across the country,” said Hilton Raethel, the president & CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “They have developed cold storage containers and have worked out a system where they will shipped across the country.”

Both of the state’s highest elected leaders said they planned on taking the vaccine.

”I trust the science and plan to be vaccinated as soon as I am able,” Gov. Ige said.

”I will also take it, when my turn comes up,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who works as an emergency room physician.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(Hawaii News Now) $22 million left on Hawaii Restaurant Cards need to be spent by Tuesday

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Millions of dollars on Hawaii Restaurant Cards need to be used by next week or it will go away.

With just days left before the deadline, restaurant owners are begging people to come eat.

“We’ve been hit hard,” said Pizza Press owner Sarah Nguyen. “With that [card], it’s helped us and local businesses to be able to stay afloat during these times.”

The state started mailing out $500 gift cards to qualified unemployed workers in October for them to spend at Hawaii eateries.

About 150,000 were issued totaling about $74 million in federal CARES Act funds. Only $52 million have been spent so far, leaving about $22 million to be spent by Tuesday.

“December 15th at 11:59 at night, the cards will go to zero. So, people have to use their cards and today is already the 10th,” said Sheryl Matsuoka Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director.

Money unspent will go back to the state to help them pay back a loan they took out for all the unemployment claims.

To help the food service industry, Honolulu’s mayor granted a 90-day extension on Oahu’s disposable food ware ordinance that was set to go in effect January 1st.

“We found this balance, we thought we’d allow a further education period another 90 days from January 1st to allow restaurants to continue to use up their remaining disposable ware and other items so that by the time they finish in March, they’ll be ready,” said Kirk Caldwell.

While every little bit helps, Nguyen is hoping to see more people support local businesses this holiday season.

“With the shutdown and with COVID, business has been down. With the Hawaii Restaurant Card, it’s definitely helped and helped us boost up our sales. For November we did OK. Not pre-COVID numbers, but better than we were doing before,” Nguyen said.

If you have questions about your card, call the Hawaii Restaurant Association at (808) 421-8792.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(KITV) Local family physician describes some symptoms she experienced when taking the Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

(SOURCE: KITV)

A local family physician participated in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial and described some of the symptoms she experienced.

Doctor Kelley Withy, Director of Hawai’i Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center, says she didn’t choose to participate right away, but she’s glad she eventually did.

She’s still not entirely sure if she received the vaccine or a placebo.

“Where they gave me the shot, it hurt both times for about three to four days. The second shot I had I was a little tired, I had headaches for about three days, I took some Tylenol but I worked through it. I didn’t even realize it until it was over and I thought oh yeah, I did kind of have some symptoms,” Dr. Kelley Withy said.

Withy says her reaction is a positive sign of her body making antibodies to help fight the virus and recommends everyone take the vaccine shot.

(Hawaii News Now) Hawaiian Airlines makes strategic decisions for 2021 with new non-stop routes

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/12/08/hawaiian-airlines-begin-new-non-stop-flights-texas-florida/

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hoping business is better next spring, Hawaiian Airlines plans to serve three new destinations across the U.S. mainland.

On March 11, the airline will begin twice-weekly service between Honolulu and Orlando, Florida.

Orlando is a 2.5 million person metro area and its airport is 13th busiest in the United States. Its Disney and Universal theme parks are major tourist draws in normal times, and Orlando has the nation’s second largest convention center.

Hawaiian already flies to two other destinations on the East Coast: Boston and New York City.

Less than a week later, Hawaiian will begin five-times-weekly service to Ontario, California, a Los Angeles-area city that sits further inland from the existing flights ― LAX and Long Beach ― that Hawaiian already offers.

Long Beach Airport is an alternative to LAX for people living in Orange County. It’s also a busy cargo airport for UPS and FedEx. United does not fly there but American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines do. Hawaiian resumes its suspended Honolulu service next week and launches Long Beach-Kahului on March 9.

Ontario International is the nation’s 15th busiest airport for cargo and the West Coast hub for UPS. Hawaiian was profitably flying from Ontario to Honolulu when it pulled the aircraft to launch the more lucrative Honolulu-Sydney corridor. Hawaiian’s codeshare partner JetBlue flies from JFK to Ontario.

And in late April, the airline will begin twice-weekly service to Austin, Texas.

Austin is a 2.1 million metro and fourth largest city in Texas. Austin calls itself Silicon Hills for its tech employers, led by Dell Computer, and the city is also known for spring music festivals.

Hawaiian Airlines says tickets to the new destinations are now on sale.

News of the route expansion comes in the midst of what’s been a difficult time for Hawaiian and most other airlines. In October, the company reported a third quarter loss of nearly $100 million.

Compared to 2019, that amounted to a nearly 90% drop in revenue.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(Hawaii News Now) Pentagon to roll out initial doses of vaccine to 16 locations, including Oahu

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/12/09/pentagon-roll-out-initial-doses-vaccine-locations-including-oahu/

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Pentagon on Wednesday announced that its COVID-19 vaccination plan for Department of Defense personnel will start with a rollout of 44,000 doses to 16 locations, including Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu.

The initial doses will be of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The first rollout could happen as early as next week, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration. 

In addition to Oahu, other locations include 13 DOD locations on the mainland and three in Korea, Japan and Germany.

Officials said they chose these locations for their cold storage capabilities as well as the number of people who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

The first military personnel to get vaccinated will be healthcare providers, emergency services and public safety workers — in line with Centers for Disease Control recommendations.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(Hawaii News Now) Survey: Many Hawaii residents remain uneasy about getting COVID-19 vaccine

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/12/08/survey-many-hawaii-residents-remain-uneasy-about-getting-covid-vaccine/

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – The U.S. is edging closer to approving a vaccine for COVID-19, but there is growing concern that many people might opt not to take it ― at least initially.

A new survey from the University of Hawaii’s Public Policy Center, which was conducted in November, appeared to find broad concern about the vaccine among Hawaii residents.

Just 44% of the 616 people surveyed said they planned to take the vaccine when it’s available.

That’s down seven percentage points from a similar survey conducted in August.

Colin Moore, Public Policy Center director, said the decline is surprising.

“I suspect some of this has to do with a general sense of uncertainty in their confidence in the government right now,” he said.

However, that is not surprising to Kim Haine, Children’s Health Defense Hawaii Chapter President.

“They say they’re not forcing it on us, they’re not mandating it, yet you won’t be able to fly on an airplane or you won’t be able to get your health insurance. Those types of societal exclusions and penalties, that’s taking us down a really slippery slope of medical tyranny that I just hope doesn’t happen,” said Haine.

Haine and others aren’t convinced the risks outweigh the benefits.

“This vaccine is lability free. If it injures you, the manufactures and providers are protected. You’re out of luck,” Haine said.

Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor thinks the skepticism over the vaccine will wear off once it becomes more widespread.

“I think actually at the end of the day, we’ll have 70 to 80% of all people get a vaccination, if I had to make a prediction, because people will see the benefit as long as it’s safe,” said Josh Green.

Experts say herd immunity will likely be achieved when 60 to 70% of people in a community are vaccinated. But Hawaii may not reach that point until next summer.

The survey also found men were more likely to say they would definitely get the vaccine (54%) than women (34%).

Meanwhile, income was a strong predictor of confidence in the vaccine. Just 28% of Hawaii’s poorest households said they would get the vaccine compared to 56% among high-income households.

The survey also asked Hawaii residents about other aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • More than half said they expect the severity of the pandemic to get worse.
  • Respondents said they were generally supportive of the state’s response to the pandemic. About one third gave the state a low rating.
  • Some 62% said they didn’t want tourists to visit the islands right now, and a majority of residents said they don’t trust the state or tourism industry to reopen travel safely.
  • Mask wearing remains a problem. Some 81% say they wear a mask when out in public, but less than half said they wear a mask when visiting friends.

For more on the survey, click here.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(Hawaii News Now) Hawaii DOH places its first order for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Hawaii Department of Health filed a prepositioning order for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

State health officials say the order was for 4,875 doses, and is only a small percentage of the total number of vaccines the state expects to later request if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives the vaccine its stamp of approval.

“This prepositioning order gives Hawai’i the opportunity to test the shipping and handling of this precious cargo. We do not expect shipment of the prepositioning order until after the FDA approves the Pfizer vaccine,” a DOH spokesperson said.

In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was proven to be 95% effective.

“We have a light at the end of the tunnel, but we will not all have the vaccine in our arms before May or June, so we need to be very cautious and vigilant,” Moncef Slaoui, Chief Adviser of Operation Warp Speed, said.

Hospitals in the islands have been busy preparing for the arrival of the vaccines, running delivery drills to ensure proper storing and delivery capabilities are in place.

[Read more: With a mock delivery, Hawaii hospitals gear up for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines]

By Dillon Ancheta| December 6, 2020 at 1:41 PM HST – Updated December 7 at 7:23 AM

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Hawaii Department of Health filed a prepositioning order for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

State health officials say the order was for 4,875 doses, and is only a small percentage of the total number of vaccines the state expects to later request if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives the vaccine its stamp of approval.

“This prepositioning order gives Hawai’i the opportunity to test the shipping and handling of this precious cargo. We do not expect shipment of the prepositioning order until after the FDA approves the Pfizer vaccine,” a DOH spokesperson said.

In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was proven to be 95% effective.

“We have a light at the end of the tunnel, but we will not all have the vaccine in our arms before May or June, so we need to be very cautious and vigilant,” Moncef Slaoui, Chief Adviser of Operation Warp Speed, said.

Hospitals in the islands have been busy preparing for the arrival of the vaccines, running delivery drills to ensure proper storing and delivery capabilities are in place.

[Read more: With a mock delivery, Hawaii hospitals gear up for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines]https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“Additional vaccine orders will be placed once the vaccines get FDA approval. Those orders are expected to arrive in the islands 48 to 72 hours after the orders are placed,” DOH added.

Nationally, officials say healthcare workers and nursing home residents are top priority for getting vaccinated. Officials say that same priority will be applied in the islands.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(Hawaii News Now) Hawaiian Electric permanently shutting down walk-in payment centers

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Walk-in services for bill pay will no longer be available for Hawaiian Electric customers.

The company said they are permanently closing their walk-in payment centers in Honolulu, Kahului, Molokai, Kona and Hilo.

The centers have been closed since mid-March when the pandemic began taking hold in the islands.

The utility says more people are signing up for alternative payment methods, such as automatic bill pay, and they encourage the rest of their customers to sign up online here as well.

Payment drop boxes will remain open however, for customers who prefer to drop off payments by check only.

The drop boxes are located at:

O’ahu: Alakea Street outside of 1001 Bishop St. office

Hawai’i Island: Hilo,1200 Kilauea Ave. | Kona, 74-5519 Kaiwi St. | Waimea, 66-1591 Kawaihae Rd.

Maui County: Kahului, 210 W Kamehameha Ave. | Molokaʻi, 32A Ulili St.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(Hawaii News Now) Hawaii reports 81 new COVID-19 infections, no additional fatalities

(SOURCE: HAWAII NEWS NOW)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii reported 81 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, pushing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 18,608.

Of the new cases, 58 were on Oahu, 12 on Maui, seven on the Big Island and one on Kauai. The remaining cases were residents diagnosed out-of-state.

In the last 14 days, Hawaii has seen 1,210 new cases.

Meanwhile, there were no new fatalities reported. The death toll from the virus stands at 262.

Here’s an island-by-island breakdown of cases:

Oahu

  • 15,840 total cases
  • 973 cases in the last 14 days
  • 1,167 required hospitalization
  • 199 deaths

Hawaii County

  • 1,647 total cases
  • 97 cases in the last 14 days
  • 80 required hospitalization
  • 43 deaths

Maui

  • 612 total cases
  • 118 cases in the last 14 days
  • 667required hospitalization
  • 17 deaths

Lanai

  • 106 total cases
  • 0 cases in the last 14 days
  • 5 required hospitalization
  • 0 deaths

Molokai

  • 19 total cases
  • 2 cases in the last 14 days
  • 1 required hospitalization
  • 0 deaths

Kauai

  • 119 total cases
  • 22 cases in the last 14 days
  • 7 required hospitalization
  • 1 deaths

Out-of-state

  • 264 total cases
  • 2 required hospitalization
  • 2 deaths

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.