When vaccine rates and new Covid-19 variants weren’t making headlines, it was the Red Hill contaminated water crisis and a historic deluge. But onward Hawaii moved.
2021 marked another year of social distancing. Name placards marked where the audience could sit at Blaisdell Center during Honolulu Prosecutor Steven Alm’s inauguration and oath of office, Jan. 2.
Hawaii achieved relatively high vaccination rates over the course of the year. Pharmacist Davis Zheng filled a syringe with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the Craigside Place care home as part of an effort to vaccinate the elderly, Jan. 5. By December, about 74% of the state’s 1.4 million residents were vaccinated.
The newly formed Hawaii Abolition Collective held a candlelight vigil Jan. 7 outside the Oahu Community Correctional Center which faced a Covid-19 outbreak. The collective includes organizations across the islands dedicated to the abolition of the prison industrial complex.
Workers installed fencing on the makai and mauka sides of the Hawaii Capitol after the insurrection in Washington, D.C. The Father Damien statue is seen through the fencing Jan. 14.
Walter Ritte walked near an open pit at Molokai Ranch where dead axis deer found on the property were buried, Jan. 15. The invasive deer were dying of starvation and lack of water during a dry period on Molokai.
Hawaii House members took their oaths of office on opening day of the 2021 Legislature on Jan. 20, complete with plastic barriers separating the masked lawmakers to protect against Covid-19.
People enjoyed the sunset from Magic Island with a silhouette of a radio-controlled truck that zoomed through the frame, Feb. 1.
Schools endeavored to find safe ways to bring students back to class. Ala Wai Elementary School third-grader Azurae Sildora sat behind her plastic barrier, Feb. 11.
Signs of the pandemic were pervasive, even on remote Lanai. A sculpture was masked on a storefront in Lanai City, Aug. 12.
Covid-driven restrictions spurred protests throughout the year. Melissa Le held a sign reading “Show Aloha for Weddings” with other wedding industry advocates who rallied in front of Honolulu Hale, March 18. She was there in support of her sister’s wedding and event planning business.
Waikiki continued to adapt to the effects of climate change, including the loss of beaches driven in part by higher sea levels. About 20,000 cubic yards of sand was held at Kuhio Beach, with the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the background, and later moved to areas in need along the shoreline, March 24.
Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English embraced Rep. Ty Cullen on the last day of the legislative session, April 29. English announced his retirement that week, citing the lingering effects of Covid-19.
There was good news and bad news when it came to the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal in 2021. The public spent days in late April and early May watching the pup Kaiwi play at Kaimana Beach and learn from its mom. The year ended with authorities asking for the public’s help in finding those responsible for killing at least three monk seals on Molokai.
The University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team posed for a photograph with Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Ige at Washington Place in March. The team went on to beat BYU to win the national volleyball championship in Ohio on May 8.
Holomua Elementary School practiced social-distancing after about 800 students returned to class at the Ewa Gentry neighborhood campus on July 8, slightly ahead of the statewide start date of Aug. 3.
People assisted a woman who was having difficulty getting back to shore at China Walls after large waves rushed forward on the slippery embankment, Aug. 16. Lifeguards cautioned the public, and especially tourists, about the increasingly popular Hawaii Kai spot after an increase in rescues.
Judge William Domingo decided Aug. 18 that three Honolulu police officers would not be tried for their role in an April encounter that killed Iremamber Sykap, the 16-year-old driver of a stolen Honda Civic. From left, defense attorney Richard Sing embraced his client Geoffrey Thom, center facing camera, as attorney Crystal Glendon hugged her client, Christopher Fredeluces, and right, facing camera, Thomas Otake embraced his client, Zackary Ah Nee.
Aloha Freedom Coalition supporters gathered at the Honolulu Zoo before their march along Kalakaua Avenue, Sept. 20. The group protested vaccine mandates and related restrictions. Its co-founder changed his tune after being hospitalized with Covid-19.
Torrential rains on Dec. 7 left storm debris along Waikiki Beach, as seen here near the Outrigger Resort and Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. The governor declared a state of emergency as the islands faced severe flooding. Honolulu marked its wettest December day on record and second-wettest day ever observed, leaving thousands without power for multiple days downtown.
Rachel Walsh and her daughter Sunny left their Makalapa residence in early December to stay in a hotel after noticing the home’s water smelled like gasoline, and experiencing cramping, aches and rashes. Her succulent died after she watered the plant. Drinking water has been contaminated by jet fuel that the Navy stores at its underground Red Hill facility.
Tim Walsh held a bottle of water Dec. 8 that his family collected from their residence at Makalapa and labeled it “poison.” The state Department of Health issued an emergency order Dec. 6 directing the Navy to suspend operations at the fuel facility, treat the contaminated water and defuel 20 aging underground tanks that collectively hold an estimated 180 million gallons of jet fuel.
Honolulu’s new Crisis, Outreach, Response and Engagement program aims to deploy social workers, EMTs and community health workers instead of police in responding to nonviolent, homeless-related emergency calls. CORE staff EMT Jolene Chun, left, EMT Alyssa Bustamante, center, and EMS Director Dr. Jim Ireland rolled their ambulance to Ala Moana Beach Park to deliver a dog to its owner who was hospitalized and wasn’t able to take the dog, Aug. 9.
Oahu Water Protectors demonstrated at the Capitol Dec. 10, staging a die-in and calling for the shutdown of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The supporters then moved to Beretania Street to hold signs and rally.
Demonstrator Mana Caceres held a fuel container near the Makalapa CINCPAC command entrance. Supporters built a stone altar and held awa protocols but were later told by military police to leave, Dec. 17.
People stood in line for free Covid-19 testing at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport during a recent surge in cases, Dec. 16. Hawaii saw average case counts of roughly 100 per day skyrocket to more than 700 daily in less than three weeks as a new variant took hold in the U.S.
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