Updated 1/26/21, 11:57 a.m.
Governor David Ige says it's time to upgrade the state economy to what he calls "Hawaii 2.0" and to "embrace digital technology." The governor says that process can help reduce our reliance on tourism and help diversify the economy.
In his annual State of the State address, Ige reviewed the difficulties of the past year, and stressed that "government will have to tighten its belt" to help close a budget deficit of some $1.4 billion.
"Unlike past years, our main budget initiative will be to find ways to cover the historic shortfalls," Ige said.
"There are many paths toward that end. I know there will be disagreements on how we get there. No one has all the answers. But the best answers lie in the ones we arrive at together -- not in spite of each other, but because of each other."
Ige did not suggest any specific budget cuts, but said he was open to discussion with lawmakers onw ays to reach a balanced budget.
Where we stand
The state Department of Health reported 75 new cases and 60 new fatalities on Tuesday. The new fatalities reported are a result of a health department review of deaths between August and December 2020
According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 54, Maui 8, Hawaiʻi Island 1, and Kauaʻi, Lanai and Molokaʻi had no new cases. 1 resident was diagnosed out of state.
The latest state count brings the Oʻahu total to 20,578, Hawaiʻi County 2,129, Maui 1,634, Kauaʻi 178, Lanai 106, and Molokaʻi 25. The number of out-of-state cases totals 689.
Since the pandemic began, the state has tallied 25,339 cases. The death toll stands at 401.
Mayor Victorino extends property tax penalty deferral
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino authorized a 60-day defferal on the 10% penalty for real property taxes due on February 20. Assessment of the penalty will be deferred through April 21, 2021.
County officials say taxpayers may make real property tax payments from February 20 to April 21, without incurring the 10% penalty. However, the standard 1% monthly interest charge for unpaid balances will apply.
"We don't want to penalize our residents and businesses who are experiencing the inability to pay their full amount upon its due date," Victorino said. "We believe the penalty deferral can help those who need a little extra time to pay their real property tax."
The deferral is for the 10% penalty for real property taxes due on February 20, 2021 only. Taxpayers can avoid the penalty by submitting the payments, in full, by April 21, 2021. Any outstanding balance owed as of April 22, 2021 will be assessed the 10% penalty.
More information is available at www.mauipropertytax.com
60 more COVID-19 deaths in DOH records review
The state Department of Health announced Monday it has identified and confirmed 60 previously unreported COVID-19 related deaths in the state. These deaths were linked to COVID-19 after a review of the health department's Electronic Death Registration System.
Health officials say the deaths occurred between August and December 2020. 51 deaths were reported on Oahu, six on Hawai, and three on Maui.
According to the health department, a COVID-19 related death may not be identified if the individual passes away after their monitoring period with the department has been completed and their healthcare provider did not report the death. Unreported deaths can be identified by the system if the underlying cause is listed a sCOVID-19 on the death certficate. But reviewing death certificates can be a time-intensive process.
"Our close inspection of death certificates not only revealed 60 previously unreported deaths. It also uncovered flaws that led to delays in the current reporting system," said Health Director Dr. Libby Char.
"We are implementing changes to the process that will improve the timeliness of COVID-19 death reporting."
Despite the newly identified deaths, health officials say the state's COVID-19 death rate remains among the lowest in the U.S.