Ku`uwehi Hiraishi

General Assignment Reporter

Ways to Connect

Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is sending a larger COVID-19 team to the Big Island Thursday to help contain the coronavirus outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. Multiple investigations are underway into the outbreak at the Hilo nursing home that has claimed the lives of 14 veterans and left another 84 residents and staff infected with the virus.

Marshallese Community Organization of Hawai'i

Pacific Islanders in Hawaii are being disproportionately hit by the pandemic. They're 4 percent of the population and more than 30 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases. The state has struggled to bring that number down, prompting at least one Pacific Islander community to take matters into their own hands.

A trust founded by Queen Liliʻuokalani, Hawaiʻi’s last-reigning monarch, is expanding to adapt to the changing needs of the most vulnerable Native Hawaiian children. But recent decisions by Liliʻuokalani Trust leadership, including staff layoffs and site closures, are creating confusion for some in the community who want answers.

Hawaii County

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim says further restrictions are not the answer in stopping a surge of COVID-19 cases and community spread on the Big Island.

Support Mo'omomi Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area

A proposal on Molokaʻi aimed at giving the community greater control over local fisheries is prompting opposition from some families on the island who say they aren't being heard.  The state has been developing a community-based model for marine resource management over 26 years now. But what happens when a community can't agree on how to manage the fishery?

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Hawaiʻi County is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases on the Hilo side of the Big Island. State health authorities say its community spread and that testing and contact tracing are aggressively being pursued.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

In response to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi, some are turning to cultural practice and tradition for answers. Dozens of kumu hula are calling for a 30-day kapu – a period of discipline and focus on well-being – to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Pueo Press

According to the latest U.S. census figures, less than 3 percent of Hawaiʻi’s population is Black. But there is a long history of Black experience in Hawaiʻi, and that includes early writings by Hawaiian monarchs like King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. UH Mānoa English Professor Joyce Pualani Warren examined the literature and shares her findings with HPR.

Department of Public Safety

The state Supreme Court yesterday added non-violent felony defendants to the list of inmates eligible for release. The presiding judge in each case has until Monday to make a decision.

The court earlier gave the state until tomorrow to release two dozen detainees facing misdemeanor and petty misdemeaor charges from an overcrowded Oʻahu jail, where a COVID-19 outbreak has infected more than 200 people.

Department of Public Safety

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court will hear arguments today on a potential second round of inmate releases at an Oʻahu jail, where more than 80 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. The state Public Defenders’ office filed the petition with the high court after hearing news of the spread of the coronavirus in the overcrowded Oʻahu Community Correctional Center.

Catherine Cruz/Hawaii Public Radio

Casting a ballot in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs election is a right shared by all Hawaiʻi voters - both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian. But the consistently high number of blank votes cast in the OHA races show that while everyone can vote for OHA, it's certainly not the custom.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim was voted into retirement by Big Island voters in Saturday's 2020 primary election. Kim says he was surprised by the loss. But in reflecting on the last four years, he says he wouldn’t change a thing.

Catherine Cruz/HPR

Hawaiʻi’s current surge in COVID-19 cases could halt the state’s plan of rolling out the welcome mat to tourists next month. And even if tourism resumes, thereʻs no guarantee that visitors will feel safe enough to return or that residents will be assured that tourists are relatively coronavirus free.

Miranda Farms

Harvest season is just around the corner for Hawaiʻi’s coffee farmers, but the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out much of the market to sell what local coffee growers are producing. The plight has been particularly hard for Kaʻū coffee farmers, who have spent the last 15 years making a name for themselves in the local coffee growing industry.

Ekrem Canli/Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons 4.0 License

Doctors traveling to Hawaiʻi to in state hospitals on the Big Island will now be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to begin work.

Ilihia Gionson / Hiehie Communications

As Hawaiʻiʻs schools gear up for reopening next month, some students in the islandʻs more remote and rural communities will be doing so without adequate equipment for online learning. But efforts are underway on the Big Island to get as many computers as possible to students in need before the end of summer. 

Ken Yatomi via Bishop Museum

A royal Hawaiian feather cloak and helmet given to Captain James Cook in 1779 are being permanently returned to Hawaiʻi. The items were temporarily on loan to the Bishop Museum with plans to return them to New Zealand, where they have been housed for more than a century.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Thousands of Native Hawaiians are set to receive financial compensation from the state in a historic breach-of-trust case recently decided by Hawaiʻiʻs Supreme Court. A court-appointed special master will determine what damages are owed the plaintiffs after years and even decades-long waits for Hawaiian homesteads. Much of the calculation depends on the cost of a parcel of land in Māʻili, Oʻahu.

Kekaha Hawaiian Homestead Association

It's not clear how much the state could end up paying in damages to people who have spent years on the waitlist for Hawaiian homesteads following last week's Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruling concluding that the state failed to properly manage the century-old land trust.

Seventy-six-year-old Liberta Hussey Albao, one of the original plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed more than 20 years ago, was harvesting bananas in her backyard in Wailua when her phone began ringing off the hook. 

Kazuhiko Teramoto/Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons 2.0 License

More workers in Hawaiʻi’s hotel industry are facing layoffs and extended furloughs despite state plans to reopen to out-of-state travel in August. Labor advocates are calling on state legislators to put an end to job cuts that have left thousands of residents out of work.

Airbnb

Short-term vacation rentals are back under the microscope as public concern rises over enforcement issues amid COVID-19.  The pandemic has brought changes to the industry that may have a lasting impact.

AP Photo/Jaymes Song

The online hosting platform Airbnb has agreed to help Kauaʻi County enforce its short-term vacation rental laws, Mayor Derek Kawakami and Airbnb announced yesterday.

Airbnb will remove any short-term rentals on Kauaʻi from its platform if hosts are not operating within the parameters set by county. Kawakami says this agreement with the online hosting platform has been in the works for quite some time.

iha.com

Short-term vacation rentals in Hawaiʻi may be reopening to more regulation under COVID-19.

Courtesy of Mackson Sam

Over on the west side of the Big Island, a growing number of Marshallese citizens are mobilizing to keep their community safe from COVID-19.

Harry Durgin / Downtown Hilo Business Improvement Association

Businesses across the state are continuing to re-open after months of COVID-19 closures. But with the mandatory two-week quarantine still in place for out-of-state tourists, businesses are re-examining their relationships with the sometimes overlooked kamaʻāina customer. 

 

National Museum of Health and Medicine

The 1918 flu pandemic was one of the deadliest in recent history – killing 50 million people worldwide, including thousands here in Hawaiʻi. Kona historian Maile Melrose shared her familyʻs history with the pandemic and reflects on some of the lessons for a world caught in the grip of COVID-19. 

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

After two and a half months, the state of Hawaiʻi has lifted its mandatory interisland quarantine requirement. That means residents are once again free to travel to other islands. 

Kelly Bokin / Marshallese Community Organization of Hawa'i

The Marshall Islands is among only a few countries left in the world that are COVID-19 free. This is due in part to a strict travel ban that has left more than 200 Marshallese citizens stranded since March here in Hawaiʻi. 

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Food shortages in communities statewide because of the COVID-19 pandemic helped higlight the vulnerability of Hawaiʻi’s food supply. We currently import nearly 90 percent of the food we eat. The issue has sparked discussions on strengthening food security in the islands.

Parks Hotels & Resorts

As businesses reopen on Hawaiʻi Island, unemployed hotel workers are waiting for their chance to get back to work. Several hotels are already taking reservations beginning July 1, and that has some in the industry cautiously optimistic.

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