Biohazard

Pandemic Update, Hawaii and the World

As of September 2021, more than 4,645,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide.   More than 226 million cases have been reported worldwide.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States continues to have the highest cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths globally. In September, the U.S. Covid-19 death toll surpassed 667,000.  Though cases dipped after January, a new wave began only a few months later, prompting President Biden to urge governors to reinstate mask mandates and other virus-related restrictions. “This is deadly serious,” Biden said in March.

At a certain point, the United States would reach the gruesome milestone of 1 in 500 people dying of covid-19, but the question was when. The answer: 19 months.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

Post Holiday Surge Predicted For Hawaii, Covid-19 cases — by the numbers:

Hawaii health officials reported 747 new cases of COVID-19 and eight coronavirus-related deaths across the state. Of the new cases reported 456 were on Oahu, 102 in Maui County and 43 on Kauai. Six cases were from residents diagnosed out of state. With the new cases, the state’s tally reached 70,320.    The Department of Health reported 140 new cases on Hawaii Island Friday (9-10), bringing the island’s cumulative total to 8,682.

According to the DOH, 10,377 new cases have been reported in Hawaii in the past 14 days, including 1,541 on the Big Island. There has been an average of 606.4 new cases the past seven days statewide with the Big Island averaging 95.3 cases per day.

On Friday, 51 people with COVID-19 remained hospitalized on the Big Island. Thirty-one patients occupied ICU beds with seven overflowing the island’s 24 ICU beds. Eight of the beds were occupied by COVID-positive patients. Six of those eight COVID patients are on ventilators.

Of the 641 deaths confirmed and reported by the state to date:

  • 491 – Oahu,
  •   78 – Maui
  •   63 – Big Island
  •   04 – Kauai.

Four deaths were among residents outside the state.   Hawaii County Friday had a seven-day test positivity rate of 7.6%, over the state’s rate of 7%.

As of September 9th, the state reported Hawaii residents partly vaccinated (one Dose) to be 1,065,089, or 74.90% of the state’s population. Residents fully vaccinated, 794,878, 55.90%.

President Biden to Require Vaccines for Most Federal Workers and Contractors, Hawaii follows at the state level

  • President Biden will sign orders mandating the vast majority of federal workers and government contractors to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
  • Los Angeles is set to become the first major U.S. school district to require vaccinations for students. Here’s the latest on the pandemic
  • U.S. states with low vaccination rates see sharp spikes in children with Covid-19
  • Hawaii also launched a SMART Health Card app in September that enables residents to store verification of their vaccination status in their phones, in effect a vaccination passport.

Is Delta variant of the virus more dangerous than the earlier variant of Covid-19 from last year?

The New York times reported today the following — “… evidence so far suggests that Delta is similarly severe to earlier versions of the virus, probably with only modest differences in one direction or the other.  Delta is certainly more contagious — and its contagiousness does call for some new precautions, like more frequent mask wearing — its severity does not appear to be fundamentally different.”

New coronavirus variant reportedly detected in South Africa

The European Union (27 member countries) will reinstate restrictions on American travelers next month, a change that would primarily affect unvaccinated people, as soaring rates of new coronavirus infections have made the United States a global pandemic hot spot.


As Covid-19 cases surge again, locally and across the U.S., many frustrated people have been asking how to channel the outrage they feel toward those who have refused vaccines.  A Washington Post headline summed things up this way: “Vaccinated people are ready for normalcy — and angry at the unvaccinated getting in their way.”


Hawaii coronavirus cases could top 1,000 by end of October if low vaccination rates persist

Based only a 65% vaccination rate, experts say we can expect to see a big jump in the numbers is alarming.

“Unvaccinated” individuals carry the majority of the hospitalization. The peak of daily cases will come, then the peak for hospitalizations will follow about two weeks later.

 

Effective August 15th 2021 — Limits on Social Gatherings, Indoor / Outdoor Capacity Rules

Due to the increase in COVID-19 infections, Governor Ige signed a new executive order scaling back gathering limits to no more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
This statewide order will not affect each county’s rules for weddings, places of worship, or other structured events, but the organizers of these events will have to seek permission from the county directly. Hawaii County will retain the same online form process for requesting approval to hold an event for larger gatherings.
Additionally, for activities with high-risk of infection, indoor capacity has been reduced to 50%. This includes all restaurants, bars, and gyms. Patrons in bars and restaurants must be seated at least 6 feet from other parties. Mingling among patrons outside of your party is not allowed and masks must be warn unless actively eating or drinking.

Hi Covid Update 7 27

 


Hawaii Vaccination Update / Global Outlook

Covidi 19 Hawaii Update 7 19

Covid 19 Update 7 18 21Covid 19 Update 7 18a

Vodi 19 Update 7 18b

 


COVID-19 Delta variant spreading rapidly in U.K., now the United States.

News Update —

Just three weeks ago, Great Britain celebrated the success of its vaccination campaign by lifting many coronavirus-related restrictions. “Goodbye, lockdown,” one headline said. But since then, a more transmissible new strain of the coronavirus has taken hold, imperiling plans to fully reopen the country on June 21.

Public health officials in the United States are now grappling with the possibility that a similar regression could take place here and, just as in the U.K., place in jeopardy the end of the pandemic that many had foreseen for this summer.

The potent new variant, known as Delta or B.1.617, emerged in India during that country’s recent coronavirus surge. According to British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, it is around 40 percent more transmissible than the original strain, or wild type, that first appeared in 2019.

While several coronavirus variants have appeared since the start of the pandemic, epidemiologists worry that mutation could create a strain that evades vaccines.


“We cannot let that happen in the United States,” Fauci said, describing the scenario in the U.K. as a “powerful argument” for vaccination. Biden has set the goal of inoculating 70 percent of American adults by the July 4 weekend. Although the nation has now surpassed 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccine administered, the effort has recently slowed.

The emergence of the Delta variant presents a new challenge because, as University of Edinburgh immunologist Eleanor Riley told the Financial Times, vaccines provide “somewhat less protection against infection with the Delta variant.” Even fully vaccinated people appear to develop fewer neutralizing antibodies against the Delta strain than for other variants.

Fauci also said in Tuesday’s briefing that the new variant may be “associated with increased disease severity” compared with the coronavirus wild type.

People who have had only their first dose of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca appear to be especially vulnerable to the Delta variant, Fauci said on Tuesday. (The AstraZeneca vaccine has been widely used in Europe but is not being administered in the United States; the Moderna vaccine, by contrast, is popular in the United States but not in the United Kingdom.) While both vaccines were about 50 percent effective against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain three weeks after the first dose, they were only 33 percent effective against the Delta strain.

Two weeks after the second dose, their effectiveness jumped to 88 percent for Pfizer and 60 percent for AstraZeneca, representing what were only slight decreases in effectiveness when compared with the original coronavirus strain.



Globally, as of 10th of June 2021, World Health Organization reported

  • 380,482 new cases

  • 174,061,995 confirmed cases

  • 3,758,560 deaths

  • 2,154,075,098 vaccine doses administered


Biden Covid Graph


Trump Covid 19 LegacyPresident Trump COVID-19 Legacy

  • The U.S. reported 4,131 coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday, January 20th 2021, setting a record for the most Covid-19 deaths recorded in a single day (NBC News)

  • Covid19 death toll tops 403,596 under President Trump, and as Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States, also on January 20th 2021.



CDC says fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks outdoors

update: April 27, 2021

Federal health officials said Tuesday that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks outdoors when walking, jogging or biking, or dining with friends at outdoor restaurants.

The guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the latest set of recommendations for people who are two weeks past their final shot and for those who have not yet been inoculated. The guidelines address growing calls from infectious-disease and other public health experts to relax mask mandates for the outdoors because breezes disperse airborne virus particles, distancing is easier, and humidity and sunlight render the coronavirus less viable.


Annual COVID-19 boosters may become the norm

Scientists don’t yet know how long protection from the current cohort of coronavirus vaccines will last. Since the discovery of the original strain in late 2019, the virus has continued to mutate, yielding variants—similar-but-distinctive versions of the virus with the potential to be more infectious, deadly, and escape the antibody safeguards provided by the existing COVID-19 vaccines. To stay ahead of virus evolution, some vaccine creators are racing to design new shots to beat back variants while working to determine how long immunity lasts from current doses.

And the new “normal,” some experts say, could mean routine inoculation, or boosters, against COVID-19.

A booster shot is “a repeat dose of a vaccine that you’ve already received to literally boost your immunity,” says Susan R. Bailey, an allergist and clinical immunologist and president of the American Medical Association. The immune system creates virus-fighting memory from repeat exposure. It’s common that a second or third encounter with an antigen, a molecule that prompts antibody production, creates a “greater and more long lasting” immune response, Bailey says.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which are mRNA vaccines, include an initial dose and a second shot three or four weeks later, respectively.

Currently, the third COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use in the United States, made by Johnson & Johnson, is given in a single dose, but the company is testing the efficacy of a second booster shot, too. (The U.S. has temporarily paused its distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s current dose, however, as it investigates reports of rare but severe blood clots.)

Third coronavirus vaccine dose likely needed within a year, Pfizer CEO says


Leaving middle seat empty lowers COVID-19 spread on planes

It’s not just about elbow room anymore: Leaving middle seats empty may reduce COVID-19 spread on airplanes, CDC advises. A study, conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kansas State University, was carried out on flights with blocked-off middle seats. In the United States, only Delta continues to leave middle seats empty, and the airline has announced that the practice will continue only until April 30th.

The CDC recommends against nonessential air travel for those unvaccinated for COVID-19.


Variant and more contagious stains of the COVID-19 virus have firmly established themselves in Hawaii.  The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported that nearly 350 cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii have been caused by a variant strain of the novel coronavirus, fifteen of those variant cases have been identified on the Big Island.

The COVID-19 virus mutations in the Hawaii case mix include:
  1. B.1.1.7, which was originally found in the United Kingdom, has the N501Y mutation that is associated with increased transmissibility.  Health data indicates that in places where this virus mutation is discovered it become dominant strain, primarily because it spreads easily and rapidly.
  2. B.1.351, or the South African variant, has also been identified in some Hawaii cases and is associated with increased transmission, and with the end result that vaccinated persons with protective antibodies, may find their vaccination less effective.  Expects agree, the vaccine antibodies are not going to work quite as well against with the the South African variant.
  3. A recently newly identified virus mutation, the so-called B.1.429, California variant, has also been associated with increased transmission, and vaccine protective antibodies also are “slightly less effective” against this strain.

SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 Virus, is Mutating, But So Far, Slowly | BioSpaceThe current 3 US Vaccines now available work well and provides various degrees of protection, and in all cases , so far, have provided essential protection against all currently identified mutations, avoiding serious health complications and hospitalization, and in the extreme, death.

Statewide, there have been 302 cases of the B.1.429 strain, 37 of the B.1.1.7 and seven cases of the B.1.351, for a total of 346 variant cases, according to data from the DOH.

In Hawaii County, 10 cases of the California variant and five of the U.K. variant have been identified.

 



CDC issues long-awaited guidance for cruise lines

CDC is preparing the way for the return of Cruise Lines to visiting again Hawaii.

Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order on January 29, 2021 requiring the wearing of masks by travelers to prevent spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Conveyance operators must also require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel. Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.


Are we entering a ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic? Experts disagree.

The data doesn’t look good. After weeks of decline, the average number of new coronavirus infections reported each day is higher than it’s been in a month. The number of people in hospitals with covid-19 has been stubbornly stagnant since mid-March. And even as highly contagious virus variants spread, state leaders are relaxing safety precautions.

By now, this is a familiar script. But this time around, the country’s leading epidemiologists disagree about what to call this latest phase of the pandemic. Is the United States on the cusp of a “fourth wave”? Or are we instead seeing the last gasps of a crisis in its 14th month?

POINT — “In terms of the United States, we’re just at the beginning of this surge,” said Osterholm, who is also the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We haven’t even really begun to see it yet.”

COUNTER POINTS —  Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted the current spikes would not amount to “a true fourth wave,” citing the number of Americans who have already been infected, plus the number of people who have been vaccinated.

“I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection,” Gottlieb said. “What we’re seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated and also in school-age children.”

Last week, Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, also cast doubt on the prospect of another national surge, saying vaccines are the X-factor that was absent during the first, summer and winter waves.

Experts do agree that the trends are troubling and that they can be traced to a convergence of factors: increased spread of the more transmissible variants and a broad loosening of public health measures, such as mask mandates and limits on indoor dining.

President Biden pleaded with cities and states that have lifted precautions to reinstate them.    “Please, this is not politics,” he said last week. “Reinstate the mandate if you let it down, and businesses should require masks as well. A failure to take this virus seriously — precisely what got us into this mess in the first place — risks more cases and more deaths.”

Biden Pushes Mask Mandate as C.D.C. Director Warns of ‘Impending Doom’

The administration is stepping up the pace of vaccinations and expanding access to shots, but it remains in a race against a virus on the upswing.

President Biden, facing a rise in coronavirus cases around the country, Monday, called on governors and mayors to reinstate mask mandates as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of “impending doom” from a potential fourth surge of the pandemic.

The president’s comments came only hours after the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, appeared to fight back tears as she pleaded with Americans to “hold on a little while longer” and continue following public health advice, like wearing masks and social distancing, to curb the virus’s spread.

The back-to-back appeals reflected a growing sense of urgency among top White House officials and government scientists that the chance to conquer the pandemic, now in its second year, may slip through their grasp. Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are on the upswing, including a troubling rise in the Northeast, even as the pace of vaccinations is accelerating.

“Please, this is not politics — reinstate the mandate,” Mr. Biden said, adding, “The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place.”


New Covid vaccines needed globally within a year, say scientists

Survey of experts in relevant fields concludes that new variants could arise in countries with low vaccine coverage

The planet could have a year or less before first-generation Covid-19 vaccines are ineffective and modified formulations are needed, according to a survey of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists.

Scientists have long stressed that a global vaccination effort is needed to satisfactorily neutralize the threat of Covid-19. This is due to the threat of variations of the virus – some more transmissible, deadly and less susceptible to vaccines – that are emerging and percolating.

The grim forecast of a year or less comes from two-thirds of respondents, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, who carried out the survey of 77 scientists from 28 countries. Nearly one-third of the respondents indicated that the time-frame was likely nine months or less.

Persistent low vaccine coverage in many countries would make it more likely for vaccine-resistant mutations to appear, said 88% of the respondents, who work across illustrious institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Edinburgh.

“New mutations arise every day. Sometimes they find a niche that makes them more fit than their predecessors. These lucky variants could transmit more efficiently and potentially evade immune responses to previous strains,” said Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, in a statement.

“Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them.”


Pfizer, Moderna vaccines are 90% effective after two doses in study of real-life conditions, CDC confirms

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines being deployed to fight the coronavirus pandemic are robustly effective in preventing infections in real-life conditions, according to a federal study released Monday.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent after one shot. Protection increased to 90 percent following the second dose. The findings are consistent with clinical trial results and studies showing strong effectiveness.

The CDC report is significant, experts said, because it analyzed how well the vaccines worked among a diverse group of front-line working-age adults whose jobs make them more likely to be exposed to the virus and to spread it.

“These findings should offer hope to the millions of Americans receiving coronavirus vaccines each day and to those who will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in the weeks ahead. The authorized vaccines are the key tool that will help bring an end to this devastating pandemic” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who added, “the study shows national vaccination efforts are working.”


Hawaii Virus Update:

228,000 of Hawaii’s residents Complete Vaccination

Hi Cases

 


C.D.C. Says 3 Feet in Elementary Schools With Masks Is OK

In a major policy revision intended to encourage more schools to welcome children back to in-person instruction, federal health officials on Friday relaxed the six-foot distancing rule for elementary school students, saying they need only remain three feet apart in classrooms as long as everyone is wearing a mask.

The three-foot rule also now applies to students in middle schools and high schools, as long as community transmission is not high, officials said. When transmission is high, however, these students must be at least six feet apart, unless they are taught in cohorts, or small groups that are kept separate from others.

The six-foot rule still applies in the community at large, officials emphasized, and for teachers and other adults who work in schools, who must maintain that distance from other adults and from students. Most schools are already operating at least partially in person, and evidence suggests they are doing so relatively safely. Research shows in-school spread can be mitigated with simple safety measures such as masking, distancing, hand-washing and open windows.

“Transmission dynamics are different in older students — that is, they are more likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and spread it than younger children,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

Teachers’ unions across the country have argued forcefully for six-feet of distancing, and have lobbied the C.D.C. and the Biden administration to maintain the previous guidance.

On Friday, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest educators’ union, released a statement saying she would “reserve judgment” on the new distancing guidelines pending further review of research on how the virus behaves in school settings.

 


Hawaii, one of the leading states in COVID-19 vaccinations.

Hawaii as of Thursday had the eighth-highest rate of administered doses per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.  About 40,450 people per 100,000 have received at least one vaccine dose. That’s a total of 572,716 people, according to the CDC.

With more doses coming in, the DOH has opened vaccination efforts to people in Phase 1C, which includes those 65 years and older, essential workers and people with three chronic medical conditions that include dialysis, severe respiratory disease and people undergoing chemotherapy or other infusion therapies.

While focusing on vaccinating people 65 years and older and people with certain medical conditions, the DOH also is making sure to concentrate efforts on people working at hotels, restaurants and bars, which have been drastically affected by the spread of COVID-19.  An estimated more 500,000 plus people are expected to be vaccinated inside the category 1C grouping, representing the state’s largest single category.  According to DOH, the state presently does not have enough doses to fully open up the 1c qualifying group of the population to vaccinations, instead focusing on essential workers employed at hotels, restaurants and bars, and elder population 65 and up.”



Archive

 

Downtrend in new U.S. infections stalls, fueling concerns over virus variants’ spread

A steady decline in new coronavirus cases in the United States appears to have stalled, public health officials said, warning that new, more transmissible variants could be taking hold.  The number of new infections remains critically high, with more than 76,000 cases reported Saturday, even as hospitalizations continue to drop.The US could experience a “fourth surge” of coronavirus before the majority of the country was vaccinated, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, speaking at a White House briefing yesterday, warned that the recent increase in coronavirus cases and the circulation of new variants of the virus meant another wave of infections was possible. Walensky warned, “we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.””Daily case numbers fell sharply in January but have since begun to increase. Walensky said it was possible to prevent another surge, providing people followed “the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of Covid-19.

The apparent infection plateau comes as Johnson & Johnson prepares to begin distributing its one-shot vaccine following emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The company will initially supply a limited number of doses, after which it will ramp up production. The hope is that the more flexible vaccine will be easier to deploy in harder-to-reach areas.

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols earlier this week.   While the baseline of cases has fallen in the US, he said the too soon relaxation could lead to a “rebound.”

  • About 70,000 new COVID-19 cases are still diagnosed each day in the US.

Most coronavirus deaths have occurred in countries where majority of adults are overweight

The vast majority of global coronavirus deaths occurred in nations with high levels of obesity, according to a report linking overweight populations with more severe coronavirus-related illness and mortality.

The report, by the World Obesity Federation, found that 88 percent of deaths due to covid-19 in the first year of the pandemic were in countries where more than half of the population is classified as overweight, which it defines as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25. Obesity, generally defined as BMI above 30, is associated with particularly severe outcomes.

Among the nations with overweight populations above the 50 percent threshold were also those with some of the largest proportions of coronavirus deaths — including countries such as Britain, Italy and the United States. Some 2.5 million people have died around the world of covid-19, more than 517,000 of which were in the United States.


 

CO2 from fossil fuels could exceed pre-pandemic levels

The planet has just a few months to stop carbon emissions surpassing the levels seen before the pandemic, as economies begin to recover and return to burning fossil fuels, according to a global energy watchdog. Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found the emissions from fossil fuels began rising steadily in the second half of last year, and levels recorded in December 2020 were 2% higher than in December 2019.

The coronavirus crisis caused the deepest drop in carbon emissions since the end of the second world war, and there were hopes that carbon dioxide output might have peaked in 2019. But the IEA executive director, Dr Fatih Birol, said rising fossil fuel usage was putting these environmental gains at risk, and that if governments did not green up their act, “we may well be returning to our carbon-intensive business as usual”.


The United States reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted almost a year. The nation’s total virus toll is higher than in any other country in the world. It has far surpassed early predictions of loss by some federal experts. And it means that more Americans have died from Covid-19 than did on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

The United States accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s known Covid deaths, but makes up just 4.25 percent of the global population.

About one in 670 Americans has died of Covid-19, which has become a leading cause of death in this country, along with heart disease and cancer, and has driven down life expectancy more sharply than in decades. The losses, monumental for the country, have been searingly personal for the relatives and friends of the 500,000.

U.S. deaths from Covid-19 came faster as the pandemic wore on. The country’s first known Covid-19 death occurred in Santa Clara County, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2020, and by the end of May, 100,000 people had died. It took four months for the nation to log another 100,000 deaths; the next, about three months; the next, just five weeks.

The virus has reached every corner of America, devastating dense cities and rural counties alike through surges that barreled through one region and then another.

  • Three times the number of people who died in the U.S. in any kind of accident, including highway accidents, in 2019 (167,127).

  • More than eight times the number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia (59,120).

  • More than ten times the number of suicides (48,344).

  • More than the number of deaths from strokes, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and related causes, combined (406,161).

  • Only heart disease (655,381) and cancer (599,274) caused more deaths.

When full data for 2020 is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 will certainly be one of the leading killers.


Global View2

A month ago, the pandemic looked bleak. More than 750,000 coronavirus cases were tallied worldwide in a single day. Infections surged across the entire United States. New variants identified in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa threatened the rest of the world.

Cases are an imperfect measure, and uneven records and testing mask the scope of outbreaks, especially in parts of Africa, Latin America and South Asia. But fewer patients are showing up at hospitals in many countries with the highest rates of infection, giving experts confidence that the decline is real.  The lull in many of the world’s worst outbreaks creates a critical opportunity to keep the virus in retreat as vaccinations begin to take effect.


A COVID end in sight for Hawaii?

Lt. Gov. Josh Green (doctor) who serves as Hawaii’s coronavirus preparedness coordinator, says the acute COVID-19 public health crisis could be over in less than three months, and that life may likely start getting back to normal for many residents by summer.

Still, there seems general agreement that many social and recreational activities can probably resume in the spring, although with precautions.  “I think you can say the end is in sight,” he said.

Green points to several metrics showing the public health crisis appears to be abating. It’s not just the daily case count, Green said, which had dropped to a seven-day average of 41 as of Friday, according to the Department of Public Health.

Another key number is the infection rate, which is now at 0.8%, and dropping. That means of every 8,000 people tested, fewer than 70 turn out to have the virus, he said. And he predicted the rate soon will be closer to 0.6%.

But now we have vaccines, and that’s a big difference, Green says.

The virus simply won’t have as much chance to jump from person to person and run amok. He projects 350,000 people in Hawaii will have at least started getting vaccines by March 1; 600,000 by April 1; 850,000 by May 1 and more than 1 million by June 1. And as more people get vaccinated, the virus will have fewer available hosts to infect.

Hawaii state’s changing public health policy:

COVID-19 vaccinations, who’s next…

Older Hawaii residents with pre-existing medical conditions that make them vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19 will likely have to wait another month before vaccines begin rolling out for them, and the same goes for residents in their mid-to-late 60s.

The DOH newest change is allowing people 70 to 75 years old to become eligible sometime in mid-March during the so-called 1b phase.  This expanded eligibility, comes with what some call a newly defined group or subset of the previously declared older individuals previously defined as Phase 1c qualified.

Hawaii Department of Health Director Libby Char told lawmakers today, in somewhat vague fashion, that the 1c phase would start in the spring, but precisely when was unclear. Char went onto in her public remarks, that before 1c vaccinations begin, an older subset of eligible 1c group residents will go first, regardless of their health status. At the same time younger people, also scheduled for 1c and with chronic diseases, will just have to wait.

Char stressed Hawaii is “vaccinating the right people as quick as we can,” but she said there have been challenges, including shipping delays caused by winter storms on the U.S. continent.

A new shipment of some 70,000 vaccine doses is expected to help Hawaii make up lost ground this week, she said.


Three million shots a day

Unlike his processor, President Biden has been quite cautious in setting its public vaccination goals.  The U.S. presently is averaging 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccinations per day.

Experts now project three million shots per day — probably by April. At that pace, half of adults would receive their first shot by April and all adults who wanted a shot could receive one by June, saving thousands of lives and allowing normal life to return by midsummer.

President Biden told CNN today that anybody who wanted a vaccine would be able to get one “by the end of July.”


Pandemic in retreat?

The number of new coronavirus cases continues to plummet, as does the number of Americans hospitalized with symptoms. Us Cases Retreat

Deaths have also begun to decline. And the number of daily vaccination shots has nearly tripled over the last month.

It’s been a long time since the virus news was as encouraging as it is right now.

The overall situation is still bad. The virus is spreading more rapidly in the U.S. than in almost any other large country, and more than 2,500 Americans are dying daily.

Newly contagious variants may create future outbreaks. For now, though, things are getting better — and a combination of vaccinations, mask wearing and social distancing has the potential to sustain the recent progress.

At least 3,255 new coronavirus deaths and 94,893 new cases were reported in the United States on Feb. 10.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 104,559 cases per day, a decrease of 36 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

As of Thursday morning, more than 27,328,400 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus according to a New York Times database.

  • For the first time since Election Day, fewer than 100,000 new cases were announced nationwide daily on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Case numbers have been falling rapidly for a month.
  • Deaths are also beginning to decrease, though they remain extremely high. Eight states are averaging more than 100 deaths a day.
  • The continued spread of variants could threaten the country’s progress in the weeks ahead.
  • The pace of vaccination continues to slowly increase, with roughly 1.5 million doses being administered each day.
  • States are leaving fewer vaccine doses unused. Through Tuesday, every state but Rhode Island had reported using at least 60 percent of the doses they received.

 


Vaccination1

Vaccine Datra2

 

Hawaii Vaccanation Count


Hawaii trails behind Pacific island territories in the state’s ratio of vaccinations to population. Hawaii ranks 18th in states’ population vaccinated.

Hawaii seniors 75 and older who received their first COVID vaccine during the past 3 weeks are soon scheduled to receive their second (booster) shot — and that has put a squeeze on supplies, limiting others access to the vaccine.  Since the kupuna population 75 and older started getting their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine their second doses will be available starting this week. Moderna recipients are expected to receive their second dose staring next week. Hawaii’s Kupuna population 65 – 74 years of age, many with pre-existing conditions placing them at very high risk, will likely have to wait to May- June under Hawaii’s 1c protocol before they qualify vaccination. Many mainland states have set their 1b (Hawaii’s present stage of the vaccination protocol) for 65 years old and older, including California, Oregon, and Washington.

Hawaii Pacific Health and Queen’s Medical Center are prioritizing second dose recipients ahead of first time applicants, in a statewide vaccine environment already taxed by limited vaccine supplies. Tens of thousands of seniors are in the group due for their second doses, limiting the number of people able to get their first dose for the next few weeks.

“It concerns us that we’re going to be limited to mostly doing second shots and not being able to schedule new appointments for first shots,” said HPH CEO Raymond Vara.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green remains hopeful that the federal government will start sending more vaccines to the islands in the weeks ahead. His expectation is that wider distribution of the vaccine will become available by March.


California Runs Out of Vaccine Doses

Braking News – Thursday, 2-11-21

Facing a shortage of coronavirus vaccine doses, Los Angeles will temporarily close five of its inoculation sites, including one of the country’s largest, at Dodger Stadium, raising new questions about the federal government’s handling of supplies and distribution.

By Thursday, the city will have exhausted its supply of the Moderna vaccine for first-dose appointments, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference. The centers will be closed on Friday and Saturday with plans to reopen by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, he said.

“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials are arriving here in Los Angeles,” Mr. Garcetti said. “I’m concerned as your mayor that our vaccine supply is uneven, it’s unpredictable and too often inequitable.”


Hawaii Cases 2 9

Us Cases 2 9


Significant COVID-19 News

  • Oxford vaccine shown to have only limited effect against South African variant of coronavirus

    • Leading vaccine scientists are calling for a rethink of the goals of vaccination programs, saying that herd immunity through vaccination is unlikely to be possible because of the emergence of variants like that in South Africa.
    • The comments came as the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca acknowledged that their vaccine will not protect people against mild to moderate Covid illness caused by the South African variant. The Oxford vaccine is the mainstay of the UK’s immunization program and vitally important around the world because of its low cost and ease of use.
  • U.S. military to help states with coronavirus vaccine sites

    • More than 1,000 active-duty military personnel are poised to support state vaccination sites, the White House said on Friday as the Biden administration continues to look for ways to ramp up the national inoculation effort.
    • New infections in the United States have dropped 17 percent over the past week, but the daily death toll remains high; in total, more than 454,000 people have died of covid complications nationwide.
  • Hawaii’s Department of Health reported Friday the presence of the B.1.1.7 (UK) mutant variant of COVID-19, has been detected in Oahu.

  • The US Senate approved a budget bill early Friday that paves the way for passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package

  • The U.S. gained 49,000 jobs in January, a modest increase amid the labor market’s ongoing strain from the coronavirus pandemic. 

  • About 35.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the United States, according to data published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Johnson & Johnson applied to U.S. regulators for emergency-use authorization after its single-shot coronavirus vaccine proved to be “robustly effective” against illness in a global trial — and especially at preventing severe disease and death.


Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine protects against virus variant dominant in the U.K., but far less effective on South African strain of the virus.

The vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca protects against the highly transmissible coronavirus variant that is dominant in the United Kingdom, according to results from ongoing clinical trials in Britain.

Oxford researchers reported Friday that their vaccine was 75 percent effective against the new variant first detected in the U.K., known as B.1.1.7 — compared with 84 percent efficacy against the original strain that appeared here at the beginning of the pandemic.


J&J Vaccine Falls Short in Covid-19 Effectiveness

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said on Friday that its one-shot coronavirus vaccine failed to demonstrate the extremely high effectiveness that many had hoped to see. The efficacy of J&J’s vaccine came in at 66% in preventing moderate and severe disease, 85% against severe disease alone, and fully effective to prevent hospitalization and death from the virus. Figures differed a bit by geography, including 72% effectiveness in the U.S. and 57% in South Africa, which has seen a recent new variant of the disease come up.

Those numbers are far below Moderna’s 94% and Pfizer’s 96%  effectiveness rates.  J&J argued that earlier trials didn’t take newly mutated variants of COVID-19 into account, thereby adding an extra challenge for the Johnson & Johnson trials.

Nevertheless, the failure of J&J to come up with a highly effective vaccine that requires just one dose and avoids special handling raises introduces additional unknowns into the nation’s supply and demand response to the coronavirus pandemic.


U.S. vaccine program struggles

During the White House’s coronavirus briefing Friday, Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious-disease expert said that the United States must do more to halt the spread of coronavirus and framed the spread of variant strains.

— most recently, a variant first identified in South Africa was reported in South Carolina — as a “wake-up call” to ramp up inoculation efforts.

“It is an incentive to do what we’ve been saying all along: to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we possibly can,” Fauci told reporters.

The U.S. continues to struggle with its vaccine rollout; just 6.6 percent of the population has received the first dose of the vaccine since it became available in December.

The Biden administration has set a goal of vaccinating at least 1 million Americans per day, officials reiterated, a pace that the United States has narrowly exceeded over the past week.

The emergence of new, mutant versions of the virus was expected, said Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they warned that more are likely to come. Those mutations also will challenge the ability of existing treatments and vaccines to curb the virus’ spread.

“So that means that we as a government, the companies, all of us that are in this together — we’ll have to be nimble,” Fauci said, adding that scientists would need to continually produce “versions of the vaccine that actually are specifically directed towards whatever mutation is actually prevalent at any given time.”

 


Hawaii Covid-19 Infection and Death Rates Decline in early February

Hi Cases 2 5

Hi Case 2 5 2

 

 


COVID-19 Mutant Variant Linked To California, Finds It Way to Hawaii

DOH reported today that A COVID-19 variant associated with several outbreaks in California has infected one person on Oahu who had traveled to the mainland and a second person on Maui who had not travel to California recently.  Hawaii scientists were able to recognize three mutations to the virus’ spike protein — which it uses to enter human cells — characteristic of the variant detected in California.

The mutant virus discovered in Hawaii is known as L452R and is suspected to be associated with increased transmissibility, although further research is needed to verify that assumption.

“What is known is that the prevalence of viral strains with this mutation have greatly increased in California around the same time that case rates in that state have also greatly increased”, Hawaii State Laboratories Division Administrator Edward Desmond said.  Hawaii DOH reported 1,656 new infections during the past two weeks.

The state also recorded several COVID-19 infections among people after they got their first of two vaccine doses.  Those who have received both doses of the vaccine should expect full immunity approximately two weeks after their second dose.

The vaccines currently being distributed are believed to still be effective in preventing illness, even against the newer strains.


…as of Feb 4, 2021Uvacciantion Progress


U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Projected to Reach One-half Million by April; Global Case Count Nears 100 Million, Over 2 Million Dead

Us Global Cases 1 24


PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

 

First U.S. case of Mutant COVID-19 virus identified

Just as vaccines begin to offer hope for a path out of the pandemic, officials in Britain on Saturday sounded an urgent alarm about what they called a highly contagious new variant of the coronavirus circulating in England.

On Tuesday of this week, a Colorado man became the first known U.S. case of the newly identified strain of Covid-19 circulating in the UK. The new variant is thought to be far more contagious than the previous strain of COVID-19 in which scientists, the world’s medical community, and governments have built their response assumptions and the current vaccines have been based.  Newly established variants have prompted some countries to restrict travel to-from the UK.

Vodi 19 MutationsThe Colorado man who contracted the new variant, called B.1.1.7, is in his 20s, and had no travel history, according to the state’s health department. In a statement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said that health officials are conducting an investigation into how the man might have contracted the virus, while he recovers in isolation.

Although the new variant had not been found in the US until now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that it was likely already circulating through the country.

The new variant has also recently been detected in at least 17 countries, including South Korea, Spain, Australia and Canada. On Christmas Day, the CDC issued new guidelines for travelers from the UK, requiring proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

All viruses evolve, and the coronavirus is no different. “Based on scientific understanding of viruses, it is highly likely there are many variants evolving simultaneously across the globe,” Mr. McDonald, of the C.D.C., said. “However, it could take weeks or months to identify if there is a single variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 fueling the surge in the United States similar to the surge in the United Kingdom.”


UK Mutant COVID-19 Virus

In recent days, the world has watched with curiosity and growing alarm as scientists in the U.K. have described a newly identified variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than, and genetically distinct from, more established variants.

Citing the rapid spread of the virus through London and surrounding areas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the country’s most stringent lockdown since March. “When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,” he said.

The British announcement also prompted concern that the virus may evolve to become resistant to the vaccines just now rolling out. The worries are focused on a pair of alterations in the viral genetic code that may make it less vulnerable to certain antibodies.

Viruses mutate all the time. Most of the new variants die out. Sometimes they spread without altering the virus’s behavior. Very occasionally, they trigger dramatic changes.

And the question now facing scientists is straightforward:  Does the mutated virus represent an increased health risk? Or has its recent rapid spread through southern England occurred because it has arisen in people who are infecting a lot of other people, possibly because they are ignoring Covid-19 restrictions?

The British variant has 23 mutations, including several that affect how the virus locks onto human cells and infects them. These mutations may allow the variant to replicate and transmit more efficiently, said Muge Cevik, an infectious disease expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a scientific adviser to the British government.

But several experts urged caution, saying it would take years, not months, for the virus to evolve enough to render the current vaccines impotent.

“No one should worry that there is going to be a single catastrophic mutation that suddenly renders all immunity and antibodies useless,” Dr. Bloom said.

Scientists are worried about these variants, but not surprised by them. Researchers have recorded thousands of tiny modifications in the genetic material of the coronavirus as it has hopscotched across the world.

Some variants become more common in a population simply by luck, not because the changes somehow supercharge the virus. But as it becomes more difficult for the pathogen to survive — because of vaccinations and growing immunity in human populations — researchers also expect the virus to gain useful mutations enabling it to spread more easily or to escape detection by the immune system.

“This thing’s transmitting, it’s acquiring, it’s adapting all the time,” said Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, who last week detailed the deletion’s recurrent emergence and spread. “But people don’t want to hear what we say, which is: This virus is mutating.”


What we Know So far …

Scientists believe that although initial mutated versions of COVID-19 appear to be more contagious, it does not cause a more severe illness than other established variants. Research is still ongoing, however, and it remains uncertain whether the new variant is actually more transmissible due to a genetic advantage, or whether it is simply spreading so widely due to fluke super-spreader events. A report from Public Health England found that the new variant in the UK has not been linked to higher rates of hospitalization or death.

It appears so. In preliminary work, researchers in the U.K. have found that the virus is spreading quickly in parts of southern England, displacing a crowded field of other COVID-19 variants that have been circulating for months.  Some scientists have raised the possibility that the increase in transmission is at least partly the result of how it infects children. Normally, children are less likely than teenagers or adults to get infected or pass on the virus. But the new variant may make children “as equally susceptible as adults,” said Wendy Barclay, government adviser and virologist at Imperial College London.

There is no strong evidence that it does, at least not yet. But there is reason to take the possibility seriously. In South Africa, another lineage of the coronavirus has gained one particular mutation. The mutant variant is spreading quickly through coastal areas of South Africa. And in preliminary studies, doctors there have found that people infected with this variant carry a heightened viral load — a higher concentration of the virus in their upper respiratory tract. In many viral diseases, this is associated with more severe symptoms.

Many experts doubt that it will have any great impact on vaccines, although it’s not yet possible to rule out any effect.

The issue is whether the new variant will be able to bypass the protection offered by the Covid-19 vaccines now being administered across Britain and United States.

“If the new variant was going to have a big impact on disease severity, we would have seen that by now,” said Ewan Birney, deputy director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and joint director of its European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two vaccines, one from Moderna and the other from Pfizer and BioNTech. Both vaccines create immunity to the coronavirus by teaching our immune systems to make antibodies to a protein that sits on the surface of the virus, called spike. The spike protein latches onto cells and opens a passageway inside. Antibodies produced in respone to the vaccines stick to the tip of the spike. The result: The viruses can’t get inside.

It is conceivable that a mutation to a coronavirus could change the shape of its spike proteins, making it harder for the antibodies to gain a tight grip on them.  The mutations include eight in the spike gene. But our immune systems can produce a range of antibodies against a single viral protein, making it less likely that viruses can easily escape their attack.

Jobs Hiring

Confusing Economic Signals; what does it mean for Hawaii

Update – June 4th, US Labor Department reports:

  • The U.S. economy added 559,000 jobs in May, the latest sign of a strengthening recovery as vaccinations rise and COVID restrictions ease nationwide.
  • The unemployment rate dropped slightly from 6.1 percent to 5.8 percent, according to the monthly report, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The gains were driven strongly by jobs added at restaurants, bars and other food-service establishments, which added 186,000 workers in the month.

Hawaii maybe physically isolated from the mainland and the rest of the world, but the state’s economy is globally connected, with tourism and supply chain dependencies representing an integral part of the state’s social and economic fabric.

Presently, as much of the world crawls its way of out of the economic ravages of a global pandemic, there is talk of real and imagined inflation on the near horizon.

A variety of indicators that normally move more or less together are right now telling vastly different stories about the state of the economy.  Historic reminders of the postwar boom of the 1950s or the “stagflation” era of the 1970s provide analogies for economists, but the reality is no one knows what’s exactly happening right now.

An ebbing pandemic has also produced price increases, supply bottlenecks and labor shortages.

The Federal Reserve’s public position on all this is that “in time” key economic indicators will demonstrate whether it’s just a stage in a strange moment for the U.S. economy presently marked by:

  • High unemployment, with companies complaining they can’t find enough workers.
  • Prices shooting up for some goods and services, but not for others.
  • With the return of demand, now supply-chain bottlenecks making it difficult for homebuilders, automakers and other manufacturers to get the materials needed to ramp up production and access essential supplies.

For Hawaii, these current supply chain shortages are creating inflationary pressures for some segments of the state’s economy. Particularly impacted is the state’s home construction market, with materials in short supply and builders facing ever escalating costs.  These current post-pandemic pressures and side effects are translating in a statewide shift from new home construction to existing home sales (real estate market boom), and a spike in the secondary demand for home remodeling services and materials. But that’s far from the whole story.


Employment, Wages, Inflation

The good news for Hawaii’s restaurants, hotels and tourist trade employers is a strong return in demand for their services. The bad news, as on the mainland, many employers have voiced concern that they cannot find enough workers, despite an unemployment rate that remains higher than before the 2020 pandemic.Inflation 2  There is evidence to back up these concerns as job openings surge to record levels, but hiring hasn’t kept up.   Millions of people who had jobs before the pandemic aren’t even looking for work for variety of reasons not covered by cable news.

While wage growth remained relatively strong during the pandemic, at least compared with past recessions, low-wage workers, in particular, lost ground.

Businesses are offering low wages for jobs that workers consider risky during a pandemic, especially if they haven’t been vaccinated. A lack of child care is a barrier for workers with school-aged children. And the difficulty finding labor is not limited to low- or mid-wage jobs, with companies having a hard time hiring for higher-paid positions, too.

Many businesses that stayed open during last year’s lockdowns had to raise pay or offer bonuses to retain workers. As the pandemic restrictions ease, companies are raising pay again to attract workers.

Tomorrow, the Labor Department will release its monthly snapshot of the U.S. labor market. Last month’s report showed much slower job growth than expected, and economists will be watching closely to see whether that disappointment was a fluke – but don’t expect any definitive answers.

A second month of weak job growth could be a sign of a faltering recovery, or merely an indication that the temporary factors will take more than a couple of months to resolve. A strong report, on the other hand, could signal that talk of a labor shortage was overblown — or that employers have overcome it by bidding up wages, which could fuel inflation.


Post Pandemic Economic Drivers

Hawaii’s population growth has been relatively self-regulating and stable for the past decade.  Population changes have been subtle and somewhat organic. The Pandemic open up a world of changes for Hawaii.Wages 2

Consumers, flush with stimulus cash and ready to re-engage with the world after a year of lockdowns, are eager to spend, but some business segments lack the staff and supplies they need to serve them. Once companies bring on workers and restock shelves — and people have begun to catch up on long-delayed family vacations — Hawaii’s economic outlook should return to normal; maybe, maybe not.

Other factors are now at play and that’s far from the whole story.

“We can’t dismiss anything at this point because there’s no precedent for any of this,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, a forecasting firm.

To get a clearer picture, economists will have to look beyond the usual suspects, starting with consumer prices – which rose 4.2 percent in April from a year earlier, representing the biggest jump in more than a decade.

Behind those numbers, was the fact that the largest increases were mostly in categories where demand is rebounding after collapsing during the pandemic, like travel and restaurants, or in products plagued by supply-chain disruptions.

What would be more concerning to economists if price increases begin to spread across the rest of the economy, that would be the signal that inflation has arrived in full force and is here for the present.

Looking beyond the post-pandemic return of Hawaii’s tourists and the 25% of the economy dependent on tourist dollars, there are other important factors.


Technology and Immigration, Catalysts for Change

The pandemic forced many private sector and government offices to embrace remote workforces, even those that had been reluctant toward or wholly opposed to such programs prior. From doctor visits to essential government services, Zoom had entered the national lexicon. Telecommunitng

While the pandemic has caused many business leaders to see the benefits of allowing remote work, not all embraced its full potential. After all, telecommuting has been around for several decades, but for a variety of reasons, beyond call center applications, its use had been marginalized prior to the arrival of COVID-19.

So-called “telework” is not one-size-fits-all.  Some work does not inherently lend itself to telework.  The technology is here, but until the pandemic, companies and government agencies weren’t looking at it, as business as usual seemed sufficient.

Just a few years prior of COVID-19’s arrival in early 2020, the meteoric rise of mobile computing was further boosted by the introduction of high-speed mobile communications with the introduction of 5G network services, more common on the mainland.  The promise of broadband (line-based) communications was also boosted with the end-point deployment of fiber optic services to homes and business.

The Economist magazine reported in April that before the pandemic Americans spent 5% of their working time at home. By spring 2020 that figure was 60%. The shift has gone better than expected. People are working longer hours, but they report higher levels of happiness and productivity. As lockdowns lift, working from home is likely to stay.

How does all this translate back into Hawaii’s economy?  One social-economic trend already underway in the state is the arrival of new full-time residents.

Lacking quantifiable data at this time, anecdotal observations indicate many of the new arrivals are well educated, upwardly mobile, firmly rooted in technology careers, and transferring some their mainland wealth into higher-end Hawaii real estate purchases.

What this all means for then state’s transition to a clean energy and self-sustaining economy over the next two decades remains to be seen.

Beyond Kona Energy Feed

Legislative Update; EV Market Analysis

Hawaii EV Legislative Update

Ev Charging L 1 2 3

As we reported earlier, there is a variety of EV bills in this year’s legislative cycle. One of those bills, Senate Bill SB756 SD2, is still alive (and made it out of committee) and is presently before the House Energy & Environment Committee for full consideration. Today’s hearing is open to public testimony. If you missed today’s hearing, you can view the hearing and public testimony at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPULuxV-FMY&ab_channel=HawaiiHouseofRepresentatives

The SB756 bill-specific testimony begins at 1:15 mark.

SB756 SD2 is a particularly important bill as it addresses the state’s multi-island deficient EV charging infrastructure. One of the key aspects of the bill is its intent to address the need for an effective public charging infrastructure, and which will enable equitable access to electric vehicles for Hawaii’s residents and visitors.

Many within Hawaii’s growing EV owner community charge their vehicles at home. But for Hawaii’s mass market EV adoption to be realized, both state and private sector partners must join together and address a growing demand by the state’s residents and future EV owners; especially those who live in condos and apartments and those who are renters, who altogether today do not have practical access to convenient vehicle charging options.

SB756 is designed to address these and other of Hawaii’s infrastructure components needed to fulfill the potential of a 100% statewide transition to electrification in ground transportation.

For more details on the status of current EV legislation, and more specifically SB756, we recommend you visit: https://hawaiiev.org/2021-hawaii-ev-legislation


EV Market Analysis; present and near future

Bank of America analysts have calculated that a shift to a 100% Electric Vehicle (EV) world would need more than $2.5 trillion in investments, coming from companies, investors, and governments across the world.

So far, Wall Street and Silicon Valley have poured billions of dollars into electric-vehicles and supplier companies over the past year. They’re betting on the future dominance of EV’s and the sunset of ICE vehicles, fueling valuations, and creating an economic catalyst for EV start-ups and major automakers alike.

There is little doubt that the automotive industry is trending toward electric vehicles amid the rise of Tesla Inc.  Within the past 10 years, the pure EV universe was owned by Tesla, with only tentative and limited EV production steps taken by GM and Nissan, along with a smattering of R&D stage fuel-cell companies. In the past two years along comes China, now a major driving force for both EV market makers and for EV demand.

In total, at least $28 billion was invested in public and private electric-vehicle companies in 2020, according to the Dow Jones Market Data Group.

This bird has flown

No longer confined to regulatory-driven market experiments, EV’s have gone main stream. “The writing is on the wall with regard to the long-term EV versus internal combustion debate,” said John Mitchell, a partner at Blue Horizon Capital. In several countries around the world, people will no longer be allowed to purchase internal combustion-engine vehicles within a short decade or two, and global automakers have realized that “the transition to electrified vehicles is the only way to compete,” he said.

According to Mitchell, the enabling elements on EV’s:

  • declining prices with technology breakthroughs enabling cheaper, longer-lasting, and faster-to-recharge battery options
  • increasing availability of electric vehicles,; and
  • potential political strides towards a national EV infrastructure buildout, together with other “green friendly” government initiatives now taking root, the U.S. and elsewhere are on a path forward to a national and global switch in the electrification of transportation.
  • Marine and aviation sectors are presently in the R&D stages of applying battery tech towards the eventual  replacements of ICE powered planes and ships.

“The EV party is just beginning, buckle the seat belts,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said recently. Recent weakness are short-term “growing pains,” he said.


Market investments, driving meaningful change

A switch from combustion engines to electric cars will not be an easy ride for consumers and manufacturers or take place quickly, with so many legacy stakeholders working to retard the growth of EV’s.

Electric cars currently make up around 2-3% of global auto sales, and estimates for a future market penetration share vary from a low-end forecast of 10% to 20% of cars sold by 2030 to as much as two-thirds of the market by that time.

Much more money will be needed to fund the switch, despite the billions that already found its way to EV-related investments. Boding well for the future, however, Blue Horizon’s Mitchell pointed to the increasing quality and technical improvements for EVs.

“Battery life is only going to be extended and with the trillions being invested globally by all those supporting the electrification of the transportation system the infrastructure for widespread adoption and usage of EV technology is only going to increase,” he said.

Analysts at UBS forecast that global auto makers’ revenues from EVs are going to shift to $1.16 trillion by year 2030, from $182 billion today.

Conversely, revenue from ICE vehicles, at $1.77 trillion today, will dwindle to $1.07 trillion. Revenues for software will make an even bigger slice of that revenue pie by 2030, at nearly $2 trillion.


Building a charging infrastructure for Hawaii and the nation.

The electric vehicle charging stations market is a highly concentrated market which includes key players and local players. The market has witnessed increased various strategic developments producing a favorable market scenario.Ev Charger Market

The market has a prominent growth in upcoming years due to increasing demand for electric vehicles, incentives & subsidies by government for electric vehicles and increasing environmental concerns. The vehicle-to-grid (v2g) technology for EV charging stations and renewable sources of energy for electricity are also posing as an opportunity for the market.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Market Trends

For bills like Senate Bill SB756 SD2 to become successful, regulators, Hawaiian Electric, and private sector partners must engage in a market ready and consumer friendly cost effective charging architecture – and one based on clean, renewable, and locally produced energy.

Global electric vehicle charging stations market today is segmented into five segments: the charging station, vehicle type, charging stations standards, installation type, and last but not least, the technology employed which must resilient and easily maintained.

  • The present market segmentation for EV chargers are confined to AC charging stations (Level 1 & 2), DC charging and inductive charging stations. The DC charging station segment is projected to grow at the highest CAGR in the forecast period of 2019 to 2026.
  • Vehicle type is the second grouping, with a market today segmented into both (all) battery electric vehicles (BEV), and plug–in hybrid vehicles (PHEV)
  • EV Chargers are generally segmented into level 1, level 2, level 3, and Tesla’s advanced, and vary fast, Supercharger network (presently, not available for Hawaii’s neighbor islands)
  • Charging stations are evolving quickly, as are standards governing chargers.  The current chargers are segmented not only their rate of charge, but their plug type, e.g., CHAdeMO, CCS, Tesla Supercharger, SAE J1772 and IEC 62196
  • And finally building a charging infrastructure must be structured to address two basic market segments; residential and commercial

Disruptive EV Market Factors


  • Tesla, the established global EV leader

Its first-mover advantage widely viewed as substantial, as ICE competitors continue to chase Tesla’s taillights for piece of the emerging EV marketplace.

The UBS analysts calculate that Tesla has a cost advantage around $1,000 to $2,000 per electric vehicle over other auto makers, although competition is increasing.  Analysts see large legacy auto makers, like VW, will be able to reach an EV manufacturing cost and margin parity with Tesla today within five years – which in terms of building market share can be a lifetime in business and technology terms.

The problem for VW and other Tesla competitors is the company is not standing still waiting for its competitors to catch up. Innovation and cost and profit performance will be the deciding factors in the next few years.

Today, VW is the No. 2 auto maker in the world, but lags behind Tesla in terms of battery costs, software, and EV production tech. Tesla likely to keep its price advantage in the battery space due to its vertical integration and technology advances.

 

  • EVs, not FSDs (full self-drive) vehicles could be the real game-changer

Related to investor’s inflows to electric-vehicle makers is the interest generated by lidar, batteries, sensors and other components hailed as key to autonomous vehicles.

Full autonomy (FSD) has proven to be a stubborn and costly problem to solve, with regulatory, legal, and technological hurdles aplenty.

Despite lofty driver automation goals, most cars on the road today offer advanced driver-assistance systems that are not dramatically different from previous years’ systems and still far from being the game-changer they are expected to be for lives and economies in a not-so-distant future.

For now, in spite the hype, automakers are mostly focused on partial autonomy and ADAS offerings that can be commercialized in the short term, as EVs continue to pull ahead in terms of consumer interest and the current regulatory push.

 

  • Pandemic Life Lessons; working without a daily commute

As appealing to some of the promise of a fully automated and self-driving vehicle may be, there is the larger of the role and demand for personal vehicles, electric and otherwise.

During past year of COVID-19 lockdowns and working remotely, an unintended social experiment was underway. In highway-heavy Los Angeles the average commuter saved 10.25 days last year by working from home during the pandemic the past year.

In Honolulu, a similar number of days saved while working at were logged.  Working at home commuter saved Hawaii’s primary workforce (Oahu) a total time in days saved, altogether were logged in at 9.68 days.  If someone said to you, here, take these 10 (saved) days add the to your life, and do with the saved time what you want – that too would be an interesting experiment.

According to a December Pew Research study, about 71 percent of the American workforce was working from home during the past pandemic year. Only 20 percent worked from home before the pandemic.

About half of those Pew surveyed said they want to continue to work from home after the pandemic ends — perhaps they’ve gotten used to the break from commuting.

The study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and calculated the above rate by averaging the number of days most people work in a year. On average, Americans work about 242.8 days a year, factoring in sick and vacation time.

If the pandemic has forever changed us in the way many of us will work and socialize, then what does that say about future demand for personal vehicles or that second car or truck? Only time will tell us the answer to that question.

After Pandemic

A Brief History of Covid-19

More than a year has past as the world’s death toll rose, the SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19) was slow to reveal its secrets as it proceeded to shut down much of the planet, while killing more than 2.6 million people in the most disruptive global health disaster since the influenza pandemic of 1918.

More than a year into this global health emergency, Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization, summed things up this way …We are humbled by this virus.”


Beginning late in 2019 it was apparent something was wrong and even threating like a storm on the horizon.

Warnings from the scientific and medical communities charted the progress of what would be soon identified as a global pandemic, exemplified by these early and revealing expert and official quotes:

Dec. 31, 2019…   ‘I was wrong about it’  

  • 44 suspected cases, 0 deaths

Jan. 10, 2020…  ‘This virus still is controllable’

  • 41 cases, 1 death

Jan. 30, 2020…  ‘We are all in this together’

  • 7,818 cases, 170 deaths

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in January 2020 the first domestic case of human-to-human transmission.

The following month it was revealed to the public on February 4, 2020 that COVID-19 was … ‘20 times more infectious and 20 times more lethal’ : at this time there were 23,898 reported cases, and 492 deaths. 

Less than 2 weeks later expects told us ‘I don’t think I know a single person who would anticipate it would get to this magnitude’ : 69,052 cases, 1,666 deaths.

A  year later, U.S. government officials on March 1 , 2021, candidly admitted … We have underestimated definitely the staying power of this epidemic’ : 117 million cases, 6 million deaths

Postmortem Pandemic Politics

Scientific and medical experts had been warning of a viral pandemic for many years.  This was not a “black swan” event, not a “perfect storm.  A viral pandemic is an obvious vulnerability in this age of economic globalization, when nearly 8 billion people and their parasitic viruses are highly networked and mobile.

“We were always going to have spread in the fall and the winter, but it didn’t have to be nearly this bad,” said Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner in the Trump administration. “We could have done better galvanizing collective action, getting more adherence to masks. The idea that we had this national debate on the question of whether masks infringed on your liberty was deeply unfortunate. It put us in a bad position.”

For former President Trump it was never about the science or the public cost measured in pandemic lives lost, it was always about a self-serving political calculus. One which ignored reality and supported his failed leadership by blaming others and not taking responsibility of how America arrived at such a death toll during the pandemic peak that for so many consecutive days, COVID-19 victims daily count surpassed 3,000 Americans — a new 9/11 day after day.

Former President Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic still looms large, measured by a historic delayed and a mismanaged Federal response with costs still be tallied.

One issue that still resonates within the research community is the extent to which this past president and his administration meddled with and obstructed science and scientific advice during the pandemic — often with disastrous results.

Complicating matters, were famous Trump insights and pandemic quotes:

It’s hard to forget, when the President Trump, advocated disinfectants as means of treating the virus, and how it could be injected into humans to combat Covid-19: “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?”

Last year, Trump announced guidance recommending that Americans wear face coverings in public to help fight the spread of the virus.  However, he immediately followed up the scripted announcement by saying: “I’m choosing not to do it.  It’s a recommendation, they recommend it,”   Trump added, “I just don’t want to wear one myself.” 

Famously, Trump also recommended the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, a claim scientifically discredited and which Oxford University researchers found to have no clinical benefit, but supported Trump family investments in hydroxychloroquine supplier, Plaquenil.


Redemption

The contrast in leadership in addressing the pandemic could NOT be greater than between former president Trump and the President Biden.

President Biden, pledging a “full-scale wartime effort” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, signed a string of executive orders and presidential directives on Thursday aimed at combating the worst public health crisis in a century, including new requirements for masks on interstate planes, trains and buses and for international travelers to quarantine after arriving in the United States.

In January the Biden administration release its “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” plan, providing for the kind of centralized federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that Trump failed to provide.

Experts praise Biden's Covid-19 plan, but warn that undoing Trump-era mistakes will take time

Within days of taking office, President Biden carrying out his longstanding pledge to invoke the Defense Production Act to combat the coronavirus pandemic, by signing an executive order directing federal agencies to increase production of materials needed for vaccines and to increase the nation’s supply of essential items like coronavirus tests and personal protective equipment.

President Joe Biden’s stimulus plan is on the verge of being cleared by the House of Representatives in a vote today that will  provide an essential lifeline to Hawaii, and for millions of American families and businesses. The relief package has been hailed as “transformative” and a political miracle in today’s highly divided political processes.  The House vote on the bill, will mean most American households will be receiving checks of up to $1,400, and comes after the Senate passed a modestly reworked version of the package on Saturday.  Political pundits have described it as truly historic, and a transformative piece of legislation which will go a very long way towards ending the COVID-19 virus impacts and solving an unprecedented economic crisis.

The national leadership exercised by President Biden is beginning of a long road to recover and healing for the nation, while challenges and obstacles to recovery remain.

Vaccinations and Outreach

The Biden administration said Tuesday that it is shipping 15.8 million additional vaccine doses to states, tribes and territories, with another 2.7 million first doses to pharmacies. Currently, there are 2.17 million vaccine shots being administered a day on average.

“It’s just a first step,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday, referring to the CDC’s new guidance for fully vaccinated people. “As more people are vaccinated, they’ll look at ways to ease additional restrictions.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future

Hawai’i – a Vision for the Future

Imagine an abundant green and nature-balanced island state, freed from its tourist dollar dependencies, powered by its home grown clean energy assets, sustained by a self-sufficient economy, and feed by its island-grown organic agriculture.

It’s a Hawaiian dream that can’t be brought or ordered online, and it’s a reality yet to be realized.  Hawaii’s unique history, location, and diverse population with a love and respect for the land and surrounding ocean habitat presents a pathway to Sustainability, as well as self-sufficiency.

Hawaii may even face fewer obstacles to achieve these lofty goals than most other parts of the world.  In the world of real estate it’s called … location, location, location.

As an island state there are advantages and disadvantages, but there is also the opportunity to more freely chart our own course without the baggage of mainland-connected interstate considerations.

This year’s Hawaii state legislature has many ambitious post-Covid plans and ideas. Some are fueled by community activists and special interests, but most share a general fatigue among legislators of living with too much pandemic talk, and too little economic certainty.

One example of this year’s legislative zeal, and a welcome change, is the recognition of the fundamental changes occurring globally and locally in the electrification of cars, SUVs, and trucks. With that, there is a corresponding awareness of the need for a statewide EV vehicle fueling infrastructure, and a replacement of imported fossil fuels with home-grown electricity.

Hawaii is currently in the middle of the pack relative to our peers in terms of electric vehicle market share.  We remain highly dependent on imported petroleum as our primary dirty and imported energy supply source across all sectors of the economy and island life. But that is changing, and perhaps faster than many can imagine.  By one measurement, this change is not lost on this year’s state legislature, who are presently considering more than 15 separate EV related bills — for legislative details visit: https://hawaiiev.org/2021-hawaii-ev-legislation

Electric Vehicles and more

Studies indicate that electric vehicles will begin to reach cost parity with their fossil fuel counterparts between 2025. Starting in 2030, it is estimated that 26 million EVs will be sold annually, representing 28 percent of the world’s new cars sold.Pv To Ev

One of the primary drivers in the advancement of EVs becoming the “new normal” will be vehicle choices and EV specific features.  For one, technology advances. a wide array of electric vehicle choices is another.  Recently, GM committed to 100% EV production by 2035, Volvo by 2030, and Ford 2035 (most models).

Although vehicle cost is often sited as “the” primary factor in vehicle purchases, other factors play a primary role in deciding in car, suv, and truck purchases. Style, technology, and utility are also important factors in consumer purchase decisions. EV’s advantages are notable in offering vehicle owners a lower cost of ownership compared to conventional ICE vehicles.

Another factor helping along expand EV market share is a growing base of first time EV owners who after experiencing the low cost of EV ownership along with other benefits.  Recent data on EV second purchase trends indicate there is little chance first time EV owners will be returning to future ICE vehicle purchases …why go backwards.

Reinventing Hawaii’s transportation options goes beyond a transformation to electric vehicles.

Following a market wide trend, it is likely Hawaii in the next 20 years will be well into a phase-out of its gasoline and diesel vehicle dependencies. Such a change will demand the development of a multi-island fueling infrastructure for electrified and zero emissions vehicles transportation options.  However, individual EV ownership by itself will not carry the day for Hawaii’s zero emissions ambitions.  The integration of mass-transit systems and bike lanes into smarter island-urban designs will also be required to lessen Hawaii’s passenger car dependency, and provide for safe pedestrians options equal to their wheeled counterparts.

Energy

Eliminating the State’s imported fossil fuels dependencies has been a priority for Hawaii for more than 20 years. Beginning with a statewide goal to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2045. Back in the 1990’s, Hawaii’s legislators, some which will not be around to see the results of the far out policy results and foresaw a clean energy economy for the state. They placed faith in things  working themselves out over time in order to achieve the 100% renewable energy replacement goals. Ff Pollution

Twenty-five years later, the state’s renewable energy goal now appears far too modest a timetable based on what we know now about increasing climate threats (local and global). Equally important, clean energy replacement options over the past 25 years have become abundant and cost effective alternatives to legacy fossil fuels options, and leading to the undeniable conclusion that Hawaii’s legislators’ foresight was more than just wishful thinking, but policy for a future which has now arrived.

Altogether, the state’s rapid transition off imported fossil fuels in a statewide shift to electrification is now being fueled by local and clean (zero emissions) power sources including rooftop and utility scale solar, wind, and coupled to power battery and pump energy storage options. This transition to clean and sustainable energy has proven not only practical, but desirable for ratepayers and the planet and necessary to the future of the state.

National Energy Policy Changes

The past four years of Federal energy policy has been marked by science denial, and a full speed in reverse to a 1950’s energy policy under the Trump administration.  A change in direction, like a breath of fresh air, has come to Federal energy policy level under the new leadership of President Biden and his administration.  With razor thin leadership margins in Congress, House Democrats last week introduced a revamped version of a major bill aiming to get the country back on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Today’s introduction of the CLEAN Future Act promises that we will not stand idly by as the rest of the world transitions to clean economies and our workers get left behind, and that we will not watch from the sidelines as the climate crisis wreaks havoc on Americans’ health and homes,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.

The House Bill supports Biden’s stated goal of achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2035, and is 15 years more ambitious than the previous bill’s goal of a decarbonized power sector by 2050.   For a period of time, fossil fuel producers would be able to earn partial credits under the standard by lowering their carbon intensity, but the writing is on the wall for the world’s major polluters, fossil fuels will be eventually be phased out.

In the Senate, Democrats are retooling energy tax reform legislation that was first proposed two years ago but which failed to advance in a Republican-led Congress.

The Clean Energy for America Act could include technology-neutral incentives rather than wind- and solar-specific credits, and would aim to move beyond the current cycle of short-term incentive extensions to a more permanent approach, according to Bobby Andres, senior policy adviser to Democrats on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.   “We’re actively working on updating that bill for reintroduction and very much view it as a cornerstone of the efforts on energy tax this Congress,” Andres said Wednesday at the virtual American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Policy Forum.

Addressing sustainability and resiliency deficiencies; more than a goal, a necessity to Hawaii’s future

More than ever, Hawaii now needs to be resilient and ready for whatever climate-driven disasters come our way.  That beings with a founding principal that by becoming more resilient as a state, we undertake measures which also make us sustainable.

The coronavirus pandemic has only compounded the state’s supply chain dependencies, weakness, and vulnerabilities.  The pandemic also offered further evidence that the state of Hawaii, and Hawaii Island more specifically, must better prepare and ready itself for highly impactful scenarios or suffer the social, economic, and environmental consequences of willful neglect.

A path to sustainability and resiliency (often thought of as separate problems to be solved) are both in fact linked, and require both the state and country governments to undertake of key policy changes, beginning by reducing a present statewide dependency on imported foods: e.g., developing an encompassing local agriculture system, from farm-to-fresh and cold storage to consumer.

By products of such measures are the creation by necessity, and not just for policy sake. Local growth of job opportunities are core components of a self-sufficient and sustainable economy.

Hawaii Supply Chain Dependencies

* Hawaii Emergency Management Agency


Hawaii’s Supply Chain Dependencies*: cascading effects of catastrophic events.

How long could the Big Island or Hawaii in general last if we were cut off from outside food, oil, medical supplies, and manufactured goods?  The sad answer is that vital supplies would run out in 5 -8 days, and less time for the neighboring islands of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.

  • Importation of 90% of market goods, 100% of some products
  • Long, complex supply chain, up to 14 days to reach market in normal conditions
  • Single points of failure / no redundancy in port capabilities
  • All major logistic ports are in same general locations and exposed to the same threats
  • Air cargo supplies approx. 1% of total cargo importation Ports and logistics system move over 14 million tons / yr., off load rate at 42 containers / hr., 3000 tons of food products / day move through the logistics system
  • Loss of importation due to port closure for protective measures 48 hours prior to events in some cases Rapid depletion of market capacity when sea port closes
  • Rapid depletion of market capacity and critical supplies when Hawaii Island commercial sea ports Hilo (east side) and Kawaihae (West side) are closed or services disrupted.

Hawaii’s Supply Chain Vulnerabilities*: on hand supplies and resources.

  • Capacity – based in on-demand warehousing, not in replenishment of surplus
  • No Surplus warehousing of supplies = no emergency surplus
  • FOOD/WATER: 5 – 7 days in the state after port closure; after 5 days no importation = 40% of market capacity
  • EMERGENCY SHELTER & SYSTEM: Supply cannot meet the demand, limited number of hardened shelters
  • MEDICAL: 3 Days of general supplies, 7 days of pharma, general WF shortage, high operating capacity
  • FUEL: Several single points of failure in the system; 100% reliance on importation through sea logistics chain
  • ELECTRICITY: Not a mutually supporting system, 60% power plants in /on inundation zones, limited inventory of components (example: Hawaiian Electric North Kona power plant).
  • PORTS: No large scale salvage / dredging equipment (7-10 day arrival time), alternate port concept not fully realized, airports w/ 4 days of fuel, low cargo capacity vs. emergency delivery
Vaccine 1

Hawaii’s at-Risk Residents Told to Wait (patiently)

Breaking News

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s highest-ranking infectious-disease expert, struck a hopeful tone about vaccine availability in the coming months, predicting Thursday that there could be an “open season” on doses by April.

“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’ namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,” he said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show.

 



Lt. Governor Josh Green MD…“We’d like everyone to remain patient”.

As we reported in Coronavirus Update (Jan 25th) , at least 407 people has so far died from COVID-19 in the state of Hawaii.


Hawaii’s 65 and older population, especially with “pre-existing” high-risk health conditions, ignored in state’s vaccine prioritization.

Hawaii, like much of the rest of the United States, has seen significant growth in its 65-and-older population since 2010.

Hawaii’s kupuna have grown by 37.6% since April 1, 2010, with an average growth rate of 3.5% annually.

Since July 1, 2010, Hawaii County’s 65-and-older population has grown 62.3%, and Maui County’s elderly population, which was the lowest in the state in 2010, had grown by 58.4% in the 9-year period, with the 65-and-older population continuing to grow, representing a greater percentage of the state’s population.

Hawaii Aging Population


Washington State’s Vaccination Program, in contrast to Hawaii

The strategic advisory group at the World Health Organization (WHO) weighed in with guidance for global vaccine allocation, identifying groups that should be prioritized. These recommendations were joined in a plan from a panel assembled by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), both which clearly establish vaccine priority access for “…older people and individuals with multiple existing conditions, such as serious heart disease or diabetes, put them at higher risk for more-serious COVID-19 infection and potentially death.” 

Mainland state governments, including by example the state of Washington, have vaccination plans in place which include NASEM guidelines and something Hawaii’s vaccination plan fails to factor, and which puts a portion of our older population at greater risk than is necessary.

The Washington State DOH COVID-19 website states:

We are currently in Phase 1B tier of vaccine distribution.”   

“The vaccine is available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household.”

This is in addition to populations eligible during phase 1A including health care workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection, first responders, people who live or work in long-term care facilities, and all other workers in health settings who are at risk of COVID-19.

Washington state, like other states including Hawaii’s state government, have the discretion to set their own vaccination rules within previous established scientific and Federal guidelines.

After health-care and essential workers, medically vulnerable and older high risk groups with qualifying pre-existing health conditions vaccination access can be a matter of life or death.


Hawaii’s three tier COVID-19 Vaccination Plans states:

  1. The first phase of vaccinations, Phase 1A, which began in mid-December and is underway this month, focuses on health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
  1. For the second phase, Phase 1B (now underway), Lt. Gov. Josh Green has said will focus on about 109,000 residents, ages 75 and older in the state, along with an additional 50,000 frontline essential workers.   The list of frontline essential workers includes first responders, corrections officers and staff, emergency service workers, and individuals essential for federal, state and local government operations. It also includes critical and public transportation workers, utilities workers, teachers, child care workers and education support staff, along with U.S. Postal Service workers and local farmers.
  1. In Phase 1C, which is expected to occur some time the spring of 2021, and will only then allow vaccinations for those age ranges 65 to 74, including those Kupuna with chronic diseases, along with the ever expanding list of essential workers not otherwise included in Phase 1B.

Doh Vaccine Timeline


President Biden signs into action the Defense Production Act in the advancement of nation’s coronavirus vaccination effort

President Joe Biden will use the Defense Production Act to boost production of vaccines, testing, and personnel equipment to help ensure the US will have enough vaccines, testing, and protective equipment to withstand the coronavirus pandemic.

The move, part of a slew of executive orders at the start of his administration, will specifically allow government agencies like the State and Defense Departments to use the law to get materials to make more vials, syringes, and more.

This executive order signed on Biden’s first full day in his new job as president of United States, titled “Executive Order on a Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain,” authorizes those agencies to “to fill those shortfalls as soon as practicable by acquiring additional stockpiles, improving distribution systems, building market capacity, or expanding the industrial base.”

Biden’s team promised to use the DPA, which allows the government to mandate the production and acquisition of much-needed materials, in December. At the time Biden and his staff said the US needed to ramp up its production of materials to vaccinate 100 million people in the administration’s first 100 days.

“The idea there is to make sure the personal protective equipment, the test capacity, and the raw materials for the vaccines are produced in adequate supply,” Dr. Celine Grounder, a Biden adviser on Covid-19, told CNBC.

“Given the continued supply chain issues that we have seen over the past year, we believe it is in the best interest of the American public to shore up our access to critical supplies immediately and in the long term through all available DPA authorities,” wrote the group of senators, led by Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Chris Murphy (CT).

 

American Flag

American Democracy Prevailed; in Joe Biden, 46th US President

In his inaugural speech, President Biden delivered words of comfort to members of both parties, after living through four years of a Trump presidency… “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire… destroying everything in its path.”

President Biden Sworn InBiden 46th President


President Biden’s inaugural address to the nation; highlights and excerpts:

  • “This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.  We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
  • “This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.”
  • “Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward, reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.”
  • “Hear me out as we move forward, if you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy.”
  • And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”
  • “My fellow Americans. We have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as was mentioned earlier, completed amid the Civil War, when the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. Yet we endured, we prevailed.”

BK: As president Biden seeks “Unity” in the foundation of his governing platform for the nation, that doesn’t mean that the president abandons his agenda just because the opposition disagrees with it. But it does mean that both sides agree to some basic ground rules about how our democracy works.

Trump Fringe Poltiics

BK: President Biden made clear his intentions (the polar-opposite of the previous president’s audience of loyalists, and not a United States of America), as the newly inaugurated President Biden told the American people today:

  • “Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans.”

BK: Some post-election elements within the Republican party of Trump foresee democratic institutions and norms of governing as obstacles to their end game, and “unity” being equated with surrender.  These Republican party elements remain engaged in an undeclared war with America and its democratic values. In a Biden presidency, they will increasingly find themselves isolated with in a media bubble of fringe politics — and for this minority of Americans, President Biden has a message …

  • “What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and yes, the truth.   “Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.”
  • “There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

BK: America is back!

bill bugbee beyondkona

WHAT JUST HAPPENED …

– Editorial –

Fake Patriots, lies and conspiracies, the storm that hit the US capitol

Never before has a sitting president incited his followers to attack the heart of American democracy.

As Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary under George W Bush, put it: “What Donald Trump did was a betrayal of public trust and a violation of his oath of office. There’s no question that what we saw this week was incited by the rhetoric that he has been using now for weeks and that inspired and mobilized extremist right-wingers and conspiracy theorists.”

Chertoff likened the riot at the Capitol to 9/11. On 9/11 we worried that one of the planes was going to hit the Capitol building. In this case, the Capitol building was hit. It was domestic terror, and absolutely shocking.”

Dc Mobs1

There is going to be a persistent challenge over the next months, depending on how active Donald Trump is when he’s out of office, in terms of domestic terrorism inspired by him directly or by right-wing extremist and conspiracy groups representing an ongoing security challenge for the Country, and into the foreseeable future.

Impeachment; one public accountability option

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday threatened to impeach Mr. Trump unless he resigned “immediately” for inciting the mob attack on the Capitol this week, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican senator to follow her lead.

“I want him out,” Ms. Murkowski told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”

There are legitimate concerns that an increasingly unstable and erratic Trump is unfit for office and represents a threat to national security, as demonstrated this week in the Trump-led attack on the American government, and by extension, the American people he has sworn to serve.

The House is scheduled to be in session on Monday, and articles of impeachment cannot be introduced until then. The timing for an impeachment seems unlikely with fewer than 10 days left in the Trump presidency, once the House reconvenes next week. And in these final days of the Trump presidency, Mitch McConnell remains firmly in control of the Senate, with impeachment being a non-starter. There has been talk of invoking the 25th amendment, but without VP Pence’s participation, that too appears a bridge too far.


Digital Justice

Perhaps bringing Trump to justice in this digital age may be most effectively executed not in the halls of Congress, but as Twitter announced on Friday that it had permanently banned President Trump from its service “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”.  Twitter effectively cut Trump off from his favorite megaphone for broadcasting public lies – an effective megaphone for his attempts to undermine the 2020 presidential election results; and with it, American democracy.

Twitter, although late in following Facebook, Snapchat, Twitch, along with digital other platforms began by placing time limits on Trump’s access, but that too proved ineffective and the company was finally left no other option than to permanently ban Trump from its worldwide messaging platform – perhaps a meaningful metering of digital justice for a man who deserves more for his assault on the truth.

Twitter’s decision to permanently suspend Mr. Trump’s account on Friday went the distance within today’s bounds of digital justice.

A day earlier Facebook failed to do little more than ban Trump from their platform through the end of his term, the next 10 days.

Either way, it was a watershed moment in the history of social media. Both companies had spent years defending Mr. Trump’s continued presence on their platforms (it was good for business, but bad for the Country) only to change course days before the end of his presidency.

Last Trump Tweet

These social networking companies have become powerful corporate autocracies, often masquerading as mini-democracies operating without a Constitution or Bill of (user) Rights.  Their moderation decisions are the results of  digital formulas without due process, and when publicly held to accountability, operate as if “don’t incite an insurrectionist mob” had been in their community guidelines all along.  The high-stakes calls were more the result of gut decisions made under extreme duress, rather than prevention.

In this case, the actions of Trump’s followers did not happen in a vacuum. Equally guilty, is a disgraced president buoyed by alt-right billionaire media tycoons who fueled participation by promoting and cheerleading false narratives, all of which occured in a vacuum of facts self-reinforced from the bully pulpit of Trump.  Altogether, these elements are responsible for an emboldened attempt to takeover the U.S. government, and in so doing throw-out democracy out along with national and state election results. In a word: sedition.

 


Media’s Role

In “The Apprentice,” TV show, Trump played a fantasy version of himself. A tough-minded chief executive with a global business empire. The self-made billionaire character Trump played was far from reality of the real Trump who filed for personal bankruptcy multiple times, six times between 1991 and 2009 to be exact. Trump’s inability to meet required payments and to re-negotiate debt with banks, owners of stock and bonds and various small businesses (unsecured creditors) were at the core of his Trump empire business operations. Tax evasion appears to be also a part of his business standards – a prefect candidate for the born-again and renewed Republican party.

As Trump’s 2016 campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the TV screen, evolved gradually into different media outlets, dumping the traditional White House press conferences for @realdonaldtrump and Twitter. Instead of addressing the nation on issues of national importance, Trump found he could speak his wild and unsubstantiated claims and theories and targeted personal attacks directly to an unquestioning audience of one or one million – he found his voice in social media, a vehicle without guardrails in which he could runover the truth.

Unlike all modern presidents who communicated directly with the public through press conferences and State of the Union addresses, Trump’s unfiltered digital and targeted messaging became the weapon of choice against his rivals. From firing aides and cabinet secretaries to grenade throwing at Republican lawmakers who had failed his blind faith loyalty test, and crossed him. Not limiting his attacks to his own party, Trump attacked reporters whose coverage he hated. Most of all. social media became the official unfiltered pipeline to his core supporters.

Part of Trump’s media formula was his wrestling match-style, which played well with right wing media ratings and the outlets who amplified his alt-realty world. The was best typified by the Fox News media engine and its built-in bias which was anything but news, and was fueled by unsubstantiated conspiracies and falsehoods.  The Trump-Fox duo raked-in massive profits for the Murdoch media empire during the Trump years and spawned Fox-like voices also masquerading as “news” to compete for the same audience eyes and ears, e.g., Newsmax.

The Future of Fake News | Edutopia

On Friday night, Fox engaged in typical and continuous looping of self-reinforcing coverage, featuring pro-Trump Republicans in rage. The single thought being recycled were claims that Twitter’s move was an example of Silicon Valley’s tyrannical speech controls, and not a thoughtful reflection on … what just happened.

Outside this alt-right bubble, other media outlets on the co-called left cheered Twitter’s decision as an overdue and appropriate step to prevent more violence, while some also cringed at the thought of so much influence and control which rests in so few hands.

How to Fix the Unfixable

To break this cycle of brainwashing and influence, consumers of media must increasingly “do their homework and due diligence” in order to stay informed, and thereby form well-founded beliefs and opinions.

The implications of this needed paradigm shift in media consumption extends beyond the United States, and goes to the core of citizenship responsibility in ever democratic society which requires the fulfillment of democratic obligations by its citizens who elect officials (public servants), and then hold them responsible for their governing actions.

How do we get there from here?   It requires cross-referencing multiple reliable media sources (Google is helpful). Reading books to acquire an in depth knowledge on subjects of interest, and most importantly thinking for yourself. It also comes at the price time and effort, but it is well worth the investment.   Being a pawn in world loaded with misinformation happily supplied by state actors, corporate media, and social media is the easy way out that too often leads to unattended consequences as this week’s news cycle proved.

 



The final tally of Trump’s presidency: 30,573 false or misleading claims — with nearly half coming in his final year.

Source: Washington Post’s Fact Checker 

For four years, day after day, week after week, claim after claim, from the most mundane of topics to the most pressing issues, Donald Trump lied to the American people and the world.

Trump unleashed his falsehoods with increasing frequency and ferocity, often by the scores in a single campaign speech or tweetstorm. What began as a relative trickle of misrepresentations, including 10 on his first day and five on the second, built into a torrent through Trump’s final days as he frenetically spread wild theories that the coronavirus pandemic would disappear “like a miracle” and that the presidential election had been stolen — the claim that inspired Trump supporters to attack Congress on Jan. 6 and prompted his second impeachment.


For more than 10 years, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker has assessed the accuracy of claims made by politicians in both parties, and that practice will continue. But Trump, with his unusually flagrant disregard for facts, posed a new challenge, as so many of his claims did not merit full-fledged fact checks. What started as a weekly feature — “What Trump got wrong on Twitter this week” — turned into a project for Trump’s first 100 days. Then, in response to reader requests, the Trump database was maintained for four years, despite the increasing burden of keeping it up.

 

 

Manchurian Candidate

From Russia With Love

What is the real story of Donald Trump and Russian puppet master Vladimir Putin?  Official and unofficial investigative channels have been mostly blocked.  Effective legal obstruction has ensured the President is firewalled from questions of his conduct while he is protected by the office of the Presidency, but time is winding down for Mr. Trump, and the presidential pardons are ramping up.

The Trump presidency has been marked by four continuous years of public scandal, civil and criminal investigations, impeachment. Yet, President Donald Trump remains the master of manipulation, and the most powerful man in the world to be manipulated.

History will show that the rocky path to impeachment for President Donald Trump was only the tip of the iceberg.  Trump, the one term president, decisively lost the popular vote in two consecutive elections, and equally failed decisively to win his 2020 re-election or talk and tweet his way out of electoral realties – but he is a self-described “winner”.

Perhaps Donald Trump’s greatest accomplishment as President was his exploitations of long standing divisions within the Union, both for personal gain and profit. The latest example was Trump’s highly discredited narrative of election fraud, which as it turns out, has been little more than a fund raising scheme to enrich Trump, sort of a retirement bonus funded by blind faith followers of the pied piper of politics.

Looking back at the Trump administration over the past four years, it is difficult to recap in one article or a single book (and there is a library full of books on the Trump presidency) which offers a clear path to unanswered questions surrounding his scandals, misdeeds, and corruption during his time as president.

In the final days of the Trump presidency, there are (as of this writing) two major mismanaged events which now dominate the American landscape:

  • More than 3,000 Americans every day are dying from the Covid-19 pandemic.

After sowing doubt in the democratic system for which he was the chief executive for 4 years, Donald Trump reaped public division on a national scale, disabling public institutions vital to the Republic, and leaving the Country weaker in every category of governmental endeavor.

Trump also prioritized personal loyalty from his agency appointments ahead of qualifications and competency, and also subverted the county’s long standing system of checks and balances, as well as public transparency in government. All the while engaging in endeavors for personal profit ahead of the interests of the United States.

The Russian Bear

But throughout the Trump presidency there was one common dominator, Russia and Vladimir Putin.

The conservative publication, National review, this month recapped the role of Russian interference in American politics, and if anyone was paying attention, it is easy to connect dots the between the Trump playbook and Russian goals…

“Based on 2016 evidence, Russian attempts to interfere with voter-registration lists and to promote voter fraud cannot be discounted. But in the 2020 presidential election, Putin’s primary aim was neither to hurt Biden, nor to aid Trump. We can ascertain today that his primary goal was to polarize the country, and to sow distrust and social chaos to undermine the confidence of Americans in each other and in their democratic process. A polarized, disunited America will help Putin end American dominance of a unipolar world and re-establish Russia as a global power.”

“While conventional military conflicts between large powers appear to be out of fashion — along with formal declarations of war — Russia has been waging a silent, “hybrid war” against the U.S. for years. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal: to influence American minds.”

Since the 2016 elections, America’s intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned about the threats to American elections posed by foreign states such as Russia – ignored and covered up during the Trump years.  A 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment highlighted the efforts of foreign states who try to “shift U.S. policies, increase discord . . . and undermine the American people’s confidence in the democratic process.” In Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin found his Manchurian candidate.

 


Where there is smoke there is fire

There’s nothing inherently damning about most of the ties illustrated below. But they do reveal the vast and mysteriously complex web of the Trump organization links to Russia, and its oligarch president, Vladimir Putin. Published in 2017 in the publication Politico, the graphs illustrate dozens of links, including meetings between Russian officials and members of Trump’s campaign, and administration; all dating back to Trump’s 2013 visit to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, and continuing throughout his presidency.

Trump Putin 1


Trump Putin 2

 

Password

Russian State Hackers Break into key US Federal Agencies

UPDATE – Breaking News

Microsoft has said the UK and six other countries outside the US have been affected by a suspected Russian hacking attack that US authorities have warned poses a grave risk to government and private networks.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal counsel, said the company had uncovered 40 customers, including government agencies, thinktanks, NGOs and IT companies, who were “targeted more precisely and compromised” after the hackers had gained initial access earlier this year.

Eighty per cent were in the US, including, it is feared, agencies responsible for the US nuclear weapons stockpile. But the remainder were spread out across other countries.

The attack appears to have started when an updated popular IT network management tool called Orion, made by SolarWinds, was compromised from March this year. Around 18,000 customers installed the compromised update, many of whom were in the US federal government.

Of these, at least 40 were then selected by the attackers for further exploitation, including the US Treasury and Department of Commerce, where emails are thought to have been read, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The hackers’ intention appears to have been a “high end espionage operation” according to security sources, designed to steal government and military secrets. Information has not thought to have been destroyed, although the assessment is ongoing.

It emerged overnight that the US National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the US nuclear weapons stockpile, had evidence that hackers accessed its networks. The NNSA also supplies some nuclear technology to the UK.


Originally published Dec. 15th

The US Treasury, Department of Commerce,  Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and the National Institutes of Health are known victims of a months-long, highly sophisticated digital spying operation by Russia whose damage remains uncertain but is presumed to be extensive.

Russian hackers are being accused of carrying out the biggest cyber-raid against the US in more than five years, targeting federal government networks in a sophisticated attack, according to American officials and sources.

Justice Department Seeks To Recover Hacked Cryptocurrency Funds Tied To North Korea

The hackers, linked to Russian spy agencies, were able to monitor internal emails in what is being described as a highly sophisticated state-level attack.

Security agencies in the UK and elsewhere were also scrambling to assess the impact on their systems – while the revelation was deemed so grave it led to a national security council meeting at the White House over the weekend.

On Monday, the US national security council said it was working closely with the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) “to coordinate a swift and effective whole-of-government recovery and response to the recent compromise.”

The US has not formally named the country it believes is responsible, but multiple sources blamed Moscow. The Washington Post specifically cited a well-known Russian hacking group – known as Cozy Bear or APT 29 – linked to the country’s FSB and SVR spy agencies.


Among the greatest U.S. intelligence failures of modern times

Over the past few years, the United States government has spent tens of billions of dollars on cyber-offensive abilities, building a giant war room at Fort Meade, Md., for United States Cyber Command, while installing defensive sensors all around the country — a system named Einstein to give it an air of genius — to deter the nation’s enemies from picking its networks clean, again.

It now is clear that the broad Russian espionage attack on the United States government and private companies, underway since spring and detected by the private sector only a few weeks ago, ranks among the greatest intelligence failures of modern times.

Einstein missed it — because the Russian hackers brilliantly designed their attack to avoid setting it off. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security were looking elsewhere, understandably focused on protecting the 2020 election.

The new American strategy of “defend forward” — essentially, putting American “beacons” into the networks of its adversaries that would warn of oncoming attacks and provide a platform for counterstrikes — provided little to no deterrence for the Russians, who have upped their game significantly since the 1990s, when they launched an attack on the Defense Department called Moonlight Maze.

Something else has not changed, either: an allergy inside the United States government to coming clean on what happened.

“Stunning,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote on Tuesday night. “Today’s classified briefing on Russia’s cyberattack left me deeply alarmed, in fact downright scared. Americans deserve to know what’s going on.”


Trump took the nation in the wrong direction on cybersecurity

President Trump took the nation in the wrong direction on cybersecurity, according to a solid majority of experts polled by Cybersecurity 202.

During four years in office, Trump failed to hold adversaries including Russia accountable for hacking U.S. targets, removed experienced cyber-defenders from their posts for petty reasons and undermined much of the good work being done on cybersecurity within federal agencies, according to 71 percent of respondents to The Network, a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity experts who participate in our ongoing informal survey.

The survey concluded before news broke about probably the most significant breach of the Trump administration — a hack linked to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, that infected at least five federal agencies  and probably several others, as well as foreign governments and companies across the globe.

The respondents’ comments reflect widespread concern Trump is disinterested in the damage that hack has done to national security, unwilling to take Russia to task and preoccupied instead with his own efforts to sow baseless doubts about his election loss.