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State briefs for November 25

Mayor: Oahu prison virus numbers must remain in city’s count

HONOLULU — The number of coronavirus cases among Oahu’s prison population must continue to be included in local case counts to monitor available health care resources and hospital space, said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Caldwell responded to critics who have said outbreaks in the island’s prisons are raising Honolulu’s coronavirus case averages.

At least 95 inmates tested positive for the virus recently at Waiawa Correctional Facility. The outbreak has been included in Oahu’s daily COVID-19 totals, potentially preventing the county from moving into the next tier of its recovery framework.

The seven-day average of total new cases must remain between 20 and 49 to advance from Tier 2 to Tier 3. The positive test rate must remain between 1% and 2.49%.

Additional cases caused by isolated outbreaks are an element of the recovery framework with which Honolulu needs to contend, Caldwell said.

“It was recommended that we not separate (the prison cases) out of our system, because these folks who get stick in our prisons may need hospital care,” Caldwell said.

The last public shutdown was driven partly by hospital intensive care units filling and staffing in the facilities being stretched, so city officials believe the prison figures must also be included, Caldwell said.

Caldwell, rail chief plan to collaborate on project

HONOLULU — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the city’s rail chief met to work on solutions to their differences concerning the ongoing construction of Honolulu’s massive rail line project.

Caldwell and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Director and CEO Andrew Robbins met Friday.

Caldwell said afterward that they will continue to discuss their differences over Robbins’ belief that proceeding with a public-private partnership would yield cost savings and lessen the time needed to complete the rail line stretching 21 miles.

A new preliminary plan released earlier this month indicated the cost of the state’s largest public works project could increase to $11 billion from an estimate in October of more than $9 billion.

Robbins said he agreed to move away from the partnership process if Caldwell objected and issue a “re-procurement” for a more traditional design-build contract.

Robbins’ push for the so-called P3 partnership also was opposed by most of the Honolulu City Council, which adopted a resolution urging a halt to the search for a private partner.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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