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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023

See Department of Hawaiian Home Lands' Kaʻū Region Plan published in 2012 at https://dhhl.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Kau-Regional-Plan-May-2012.pdf. Image from Hawaiian Home Lands Trust

THE TOWN HALL IN PĀHALA ON TUESDAY drew Jeff Kekoa, President of Ka‘ū Hawaiian Home Lands Association. He asked representatives of Hawai‘i County how the county can cooperate with the quasi-state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to bring water to the 10,000 acres in South Point that it holds in trust for Native Hawaiians. He said that County waterlines go down South Point Road but there is much competition from people buying homes and estates along the way so there is no water left for the lands belonging to native Hawaiians below them.
    Kekoa said generations of Hawaiians have been waiting to lease lands at South Point from DHHL but are turned away because of the water shortage. A representative of county Department of Water Supply noted that the problem is the undersized waterlines. He and Kekoa also noted that Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is building water tanks to help solve the problem and will turn the tanks over to the County to operate them.
Ahupua'a in Kaʻū with Hawaiian Home Lands 
outlined in red. Map from DHHL
      Mayor Mitch Roth, who hosted the meeting in Pāhala, said he is going to meet with DHHL chief Kali Watson soon and will bring up the idea of using some of the $600 million recently appropriated to DHHL to help fund the water supply lines to Hawaiian Home Lands at South Point.
    Kekoa also noted that the Hawaiian Homes Commission will host a meeting  this Sunday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. at Nāʻālehu Community Center, 95-5635 Māmalahoa Hwy. The Commission will receive live verbal public testimony. Interested persons can attend or view the meeting livestream
    Watson, Chair of Hawaiian Homes Commission, is set to attend. Hawai‘i Island's commissioners are Makai Freitas for West Hawai‘i and Michael Kaleikini for East Hawai‘i.
    See more from this week's Town Hall in Pāhala, sponsored by Mayor Mitch Roth and his County Department leaders in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs. See the entire meeting on the Mayor's facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HIMayorMitch/videos/1515428795696531.

IMPROVING RECYCLING THROUGH REFILLABLE BOTTLES AND REUSABLE FOOD WARE is coming to this island through a federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mayor Mitch Roth announced the funding on Thursday. Hawaiʻi County will receive $1,522,130 dedicated to enhancing recycling infrastructure and waste management systems. The startup program will begin in Hilo.
     The County's grant proposal says that cleaning and reusing bottles and food ware "will result in 1 million uses of reusable food ware in place of disposable food ware and reduction of disposable food ware by 50o tons annually." The project will create five management jobs and ten to 20 operations jobs. The federal grant pays for the purchase of refuse collection bins, transport vehicles and crates/totes, a dishwashing machine, a platform to support asset tracking and management, as well as funding to install or equip the infrastructure. The project management, community engagement, and technical expertise work is funded through philanthropic grants.
    "We're deeply grateful for the EPA's decision to support our proposal," said the Mayor. "This initiative is all about building the necessary infrastructure for our residents to continue forging a greener and more resilient Hawaiʻi Island, where every citizen actively contributes to the preservation of our environment and sustainability of our island home."
    The EPA's selection of Hawaiʻi County as a grant recipient is part of the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling program, totaling over $73 million distributed to 25 communities nationwide. Additionally, an allocation of approximately $32 million is available for states and territories to enhance solid waste management planning, data collection, and plan execution. These grants align with EPA's National Recycling Strategy, promoting a circular economy by extending the lifespan of materials, products, and services.

A RECOMMENDATION FOR RECEIVING THE NEW COVID VACCINES was issued on Thursday by the state Department of Health. "The Hawai‘i Department of Health recommends use of the new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines newly approved and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to protect against the most common forms of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i. The new vaccines address the XBB-lineages of the Omicron variant that accounts for 99% of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i."
    The new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines replace the previously approved/authorized Bivalent mRNA vaccines.
    State Health Director Dr. Kenneth S. Fink said, "The authorization of the new 2023-2024 COVID-19
COVID photo from Pfizer

vaccines comes at a good time. We are seeing increased numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. By getting the new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine, you are taking steps to help minimize the spread of disease in our communities. This is especially important as we approach the holiday season."
    U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced the approval and authorization of updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine formulations on Monday, Sept. 11. On Tuesday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommended the updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines for all persons 6 months of age and older.
    For persons 5 years of age and older, the new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines are to be administered as a single dose, at least two months after a person's last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.
    For persons under the age of 5, recommended doses and vaccination schedules will vary depending on the child's previous vaccination history and vaccine brand administered. With questions, consult with the child's physician for guidance.
    For children 6 months through 18 years of age, the new, updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines will be available through the Vaccines For Children Program, as well as health insurance coverage for zero out-of-pocket cost. The new, updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines should be available wherever children currently receive their other routine childhood immunizations.
    Unlike previous COVID-19 vaccines, the new vaccines are not being exclusively distributed by the U.S. Government to vaccination providers. The new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines are available through
traditional pathways for purchase, distribution, and payment, including health insurance coverage.
    Initial public and private sector orders of the new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines have begun shipping and are expected to arrive in pharmacies and provider offices this week, according to DOH. "However, not all providers will have vaccines available at the same time as shipping timeframes will vary between manufacturers, vaccine distributors, and provider locations. Please give your providers time to ensure vaccines are received in good condition, stored properly, and inventoried in their systems, in order to properly administer and document the vaccination of patients. Scheduling of vaccination appointments will be done by individual vaccine providers once they receive delivery of their 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine supply."
    Persons seeking vaccination may search for 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine providers on the Vaccines.gov - Find COVID‑19 vaccine locations near you website. For uninsured and underinsured adults, the website will be updated to include a filter feature to identify locations participating in the Bridge Access Program.
    DOH reminds the public that, "in addition to getting the new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines, masking and physical distancing continue to be effective for protecting yourself and others against COVID-19. Additionally, good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing, are also highly recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19."