The Latest: 76 New Cases; Caldwell: Kahikina Right To Lead HART

Dec 29, 2020

Updated 12/29/20, 11:59 a.m.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell believes Lori Kahikina is perfect to lead the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. On Monday, HART announced Kahikina will be interim Executive Director and CEO of the semi-autonomous agency starting later this week.

Kahikina leads the city's Department of Environmental Services, which oversees Oahu's wastewater and trash. 

Caldwell says he has never discussed or given his thoughts on HART's personnel decisions. But he praised the announcement yesterday, saying she is the right person for the job at this time.

"She knows how to relocate utilities in our roads throughout this island -- and she does it well -- and she knows how to acquire property when that's necessary to rebuild our sewer system," Caldwell said.

"Those are the two biggest issues at HART right now. Utility relocation and right of way acquisition -- both remain challenging in the Dillingham area. And I think she'll be able to step in and address these issues in a way that allows this project to move forward more smoothly."

Caldwell yesterday announced the Federal Transit Administration has confirmed it will be extending a deadline to use $250 million in federal funds to construct the last 4.2 miles of the rail project.

The funds were supposed to expire at the end of this month.

-- HPR's Casey Harlow

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 76 new cases and no new fatalities on Tuesday.

According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 55 cases, Maui 9, Hawaiʻi Island 7, Kauaʻi, Lanai and Molokaʻi had none.

The latest state counts bring the Oʻahu total to 17,689, Hawaiʻi County 1,871, Maui 915, Kauaʻi 144, Lanai 106 and Molokaʻi 22. The number of out-of-state cases totals 356.

Since the pandemic began the state has tallied 21,103 cases. The death toll stands at 285.

Maui urgent care facilities to open for COVID testing

Minit Med Urgent Care in partnership with Maui County will be opening its site offices in Kahului, Kihei and Lahaina for free COVID-19 testing on Wednesday, December 30.

The Lahaina and Kihei sites will be open from 8 a.m. to noon, and the Kahului site will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"This is an opportunity for residents to confirm they do not have COVID-19 before the beginning of the New Year," Mayor Michael Victorino said.

Anyone wishing to get tested must pre-register by visiting the Minit Med Urgent Care weebsite. Registered participants are asked to go to the sites at their designated time.

Halawa testing continues

42 more inmates at Halawa Correctional Facility have been tested over the Christmas weekend. Of that, 10 tested positive, 30 were negative, and two were inconclusive. Seven inmates are hospitalized.

According to the state Department of Public Safety, 39 inmates at the Halawa Correctional Facility have recovered, bringing the total number of active inmate cases down to 275.

DPS reports three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, and seven have recovered. That brings the total number of active cases among prison personnel to 27.

Maʻo Organic Farms expands

Throughout the pandemic, Maʻo Organic Farms in Waiʻanae has kept its organic produce int he markets and on the menu.

Farm Manager Kaui Sana says this year, Maʻo has acquired 256 more acres near its original site in Lualualei Valley.

Last month, Maʻo did the initial plantings for a breadfruit and coconut orchard on a portion of the property.

"We really wanted to show how abundant and verdant this ʻaina can be in Lualualei, and share that food," Sana said. "We want people to come up and see that we can provide food for our community in Waiʻanae and on Oʻahu."

150-200 trees showing different varieties of ulu, and niu, are planned on the 21 acre parcel near Lualualei Naval Base Road.

In addition to continuing its growth, Maʻo Farms has maintained another tradition this year: using proceeds from its operations to send farm interns to college.

-- HPR's Noe Tanigawa