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State briefs for June 12

Honolulu
loosens virus
restrictions as
vaccinations rise

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu on Friday loosened some restrictions on social activity now that more than half its population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new rules allow outdoor social gatherings of up to 25 people and indoor gatherings of up to 10.

Karaoke bars and nightclubs may operate at 50% capacity if all attendees are tested for the disease or show proof they have been fully vaccinated.

The city will allow gatherings of 25 indoors and 75 outdoors once 60% of the population has been vaccinated. All limits will be lifted when the vaccination rate tops 70%.

Honolulu reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, down 25% from two weeks earlier.

Researchers: Population
of invasive
parakeets down

KEKAHA, Kauai (AP) — Researchers have documented a decrease in Kauai’s population of rose-ringed parakeets, a invasive species plaguing local farms.

The island had a minimum of 7,300 of the parakeets this year, down from 10,500 last year, said Jane Anderson, assistant professor of research at Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute of Texas A&M University – Kingsville.

Tiffani Keanini, manager of Kauai Invasive Species Committee, said her organization launched a campaign to get people to report parakeets roosts, or sites where large numbers of the birds gather to sleep at night.

Mango farmer Wally Johnson of Kekaha told The Garden Island newspaper he first saw the parakeets six to seven years ago. He’s had workers scare them away with shotguns.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center suggests controlling their numbers by capturing birds with live traps or with long-handled nets at roosting spots.

Anderson said Kauai’s parakeets are believed to have descended from pets that were released in the 1960s.

They damage crops because they flock in groups of 50 to 100. They’re been known to eat corn, lychee, citrus, mango, longan and papaya.

“This is impacting the large cornfields as well as local fruit farms and backyard growers,” Anderson said.

Unlicensed
care home faces $828,000 fine

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Hawaii health department inspectors showed up at a home unannounced after a complaint and found it was operating an adult care facility without a license, leading to a fine of more than $800,000.

The $828,000 fine against Island Promise Homes LLC announced Thursday is part of a larger effort in recent years to rein in an industry that has skirted health and safety regulations.

Health officials have fined at least seven adult residential care homes over the past two years and ordered them to stop operating.

Registered nurse Anita Felipe, who operates three licensed adult residential care homes, owns Island Promise Homes. According to the health department, she admitted she was providing care for people in the unlicensed facility.

She didn’t respond to a request for comment and has 20 days to contest the order and seek a hearing. Efforts by The Associated Press to reach Felipe on Friday weren’t immediately successful.

The announced fine is $1,000 for each day the Waipahu facility was in operation from April 24, 2018, to July 29, 2020 — or 828 days.

State law requires a license for an adult residential care home that charges a fee to provide accommodations to unrelated adults who need help with daily living and health care.

State legislators passed Act 148 in 2018, which authorized the health department to investigate and enter unlicensed care facilities. Health care providers who knowingly refer people to unlicensed care homes can also be fined.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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