UPDATE 9.5.2020: Surge Testing program costs over $15,000 per identified infectious case. Of 16,384 Surge Tests so far, only 104 have been positive for the virus. This highly inefficient testing methodology costs $15,783 to identify ONE infectious person. This is what the FAILED DOH Contact Tracing program cost all of us. This money could have gone to struggling families or small businesses. Nice job, Governor David FrankenIGE.
The Kokua Council for Senior Citizens sent a demand letter Wednesday to DOH director Bruce Anderson threatening further legal action if he doesn’t furnish information that the state’s contract tracing program is meeting its legal obligations by 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“The state has a legal obligation to provide contact tracing and relevant health information in minority languages to limited English-proficient individuals at the levels established by statute. From the available information to Kokua Council, the state has failed to act contrary to its legal obligation to do so.”
Kokua Council for Senior Citizens
With Sarah Park out of the way, Emily Roberson returned to duty Friday. Roberson wrote to officials, “These issues need to be worked out by DOH leadership before I can effectively perform my job duties.” She added she wanted to “avoid making any unintentional missteps that could inadvertently compromise the COVID-19 response.”
The DOH now claims 30 full-time staff working to control and prevent the spread of disease throughout the state: supported by 200 contact tracers, 30 National Guard members, 70 DOH public health nurses, 50 DOH staff members and 50 other trained volunteers. 
UPDATE 9.4.2020: Sarah Park, embattled state epidemiologist criticized for her failure to build a robust C19 testing and contact tracing program, was placed on paid leave today. Emily Roberson, recently assigned to take over the contact tracing effort, asked to be placed on leave Wednesday. Roberson claimed Park was interfering and micromanaging the program. 
“The removal of both Bruce Anderson and Sarah Park was an essential move to begin a new process at the executive level in the state of Hawai’i. It is clear that aggressive use of testing, contact tracing and quarantine is the only way our state will be able to follow the best practice leads of the rest of the world and begin to stop the surge of COVID in Hawai’i and the numerous deaths that are avoidable.”
Dr. Scott Miscovich, president of Premier Medical Group Hawai’i
UPDATE 9.3.2020: Local media reports DOH Disease Investigation Branch chief Emily Roberson, center, asked for leave until the “chain of command with regards to COVID-19 contract tracing efforts in Hawaii can be clarified by leadership.”
Monday, DOH Director Bruce Anderson, left, announced he will retire effective Sept. 15. Governor David FrankenIge is at right. Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu will be in charge of the contact tracing program while Roberson is on leave. 
“We’ve been very frustrated but we thought we were turning a corner. It’s very concerning to hear she’s going on administrative leave. I’m considering calling an informational briefing. We need to address the reasons why she left.”
House Health Committee Chair Rep. John M. Mizuno (D, Kalihi-Kamehameha Heights)
I and my U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called for resignation of Anderson and State Epidemiologist Sarah Park for mismanagement of state’s C19 response. Park remains on the job. Although she no longer should be leading contact tracing efforts, critics claim she’s micromanaging efforts. Park must get out now. She’s killing people.
We’re in the middle of a Global Pandemic firestorm and Emily Roberson turns her back on suffering families and scared local residents. Not quality leadership!
UPDATE 9.2.2020: Hawai’i officials violated federal guidelines with the Surge Testing of 60,000. The state may now lose some of the $180 million in federal transportation funding after Federal Highways Administration denied the state’s request to use the H3 freeway for the event. Apparently Governor FrankenIGE said FU to the federal government.
Ed Sniffen, state Highways Division deputy director, said he was to blame for not giving federal officials enough information about the gravity of the situation. 
Dr. Michele Carbone asks, 60,000 tests — then what? If we send those found positive home, and ask them to self-isolate, which is what we have been doing in Hawaii, they will infect the rest of the family. Government closed parks, trails, beaches and the whole outdoors, where infections occur only in situations in which there is a crowd. Since the outdoors is closed, family members stay at home: this creates the perfect environment for the virus to spread.
This ill-advised approach caused the current epidemic of infections in Hawaii, and in particular, among Pacific islanders. She’s an expert who writes on the topic in the top medical journals. Claims what she wrote does not require an M.D. or a Ph.D.; it’s simple common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply in the Aloha state. (full story)
UPDATE 9.1.2020: The tragic black comedy continues in the Aloha state. Some 1,776 people will have to retake COVID-19 tests due to a mislabeling error. The emergency program has now been applied in eight states. Mia Palmieri Heck, a director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said so far no other states suffered a mislabeling issue as happened in Hawai’i. Incompetent officials here are deadly.
National taxpayers supported the federal government testing program, which began last Wednesday. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and and Hawai’i Governor David FrankenIGE directed the effort locally.
The federal intervention planned 5,000 free tests a day for Oahu residents, up to 60,000, over a two-week period. The Trump administration was assisting local officials identify infected individuals in high-risk communities. Hawai’i officials simply could not follow directions.
Those with botched tests will be notified by email to schedule a follow-up. In the meantime, infectious people will continue to infect others. At some point, local residents are going to throw these incompetent nincompoops into the volcano.
UPDATE 8.31.2020: Record-setting seven new coronavirus-related deaths reported today. Hawai’i began the month of August with 26 COVID-19 deaths and will end with 70 deaths. That’s an explosion of 170%. DOH officials lied and covered up their incompetence.
In an attempt to save his job, Governor David FrankenIGE fired both DOH director Bruce Anderson and Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda. Both Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers union asked Espinda be replaced.
Both U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and we have called for changes. State Epidemiologist Sarah Park had been replaced weeks ago. Anderson and Espinda are out now. Scott Murakami, the governor’s director of the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, resigned from his post on Aug. 5th. There are still too many rats on this sinking ship!
UPDATE 8.30.2020: The Circus of Incompetence continues in the Aloha state. Just five days into a federally funded COVID-19 surge testing program on Oahu, about 1,000 people from the Kaneohe testing site have been told they have to retake the test due to a mislabeling error. 
The federally-funded surge testing program hopes to help officials in high-risk communities identify where the virus is so they can take steps to bring down positivity rates and ease hospitalizations, but the Honolulu Fire Department did not receive proper guidance from eTrueNorth, which led to test tubes at the Kaneohe testing site to not be labeled.
“It probably would have been better if the mayor had gotten on the same page with the surgeon general from the get-go so that these tests weren’t wasted. I’m hearing that federal regulations may mean that those tests can’t be used.”
Lt. Governor Josh Green
Mia Palmieri Heck, director of external affairs for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said HHS has conducted surge testing in eight states, none of which have had mislabeling issues similar to those that happened in Honolulu.
Governor Ige needs to step down. His incompetence has gotten many people killed in Hawai’i.
UPDATE 8.28.2020: “We had four people die yesterday,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said this morning. “We had three people (on Oahu) die today.”
DOH officials lied to The Public and elected politicians. Governor David FrankenIGE and Lt. Governor Josh Green protect their friends and refuse to fire them. This is corruption in the Aloha state and Democrat-controlled government. They protect their friends; they do not care about you or your family.
UPDATE 8.26.2020: Confirmed 277 cases today. Federal officials arrived on island and now county offers 60,000 FREE C19 Tests. This is some $6,000,000 in tests, which are good only for the day of the test. Test today negative, but you can be infected tomorrow. Better plan is to assume everyone is infectious. Keep your distance, #MaskUp, stay home if possible, and be clean. Use the $6 million to help small businesses and distressed families.
UPDATE 8.25.2020: LOCKDOWN on O’ahu as governor and mayor implemented another stay-at-home, work-at-home order effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday for two weeks. Essential businesses to remain open, such as child care, construction, health care and some educational services. Religious services will also be allowed, with restrictions.
COVID infections were putting “stress on our healthcare system.”
Governor David FrankenIGE
The DOH lied to officials and the public. None have been fired. We are being punished for their corruption and incompetence. Now, officials protect the healthcare system, not us. Somehow, the single guy sitting in a park by himself in the picture below is the problem and receives a ticket from police.
Gov. David Ige joined Caldwell at the news conference, saying the “stay-at-home” order was needed because daily, triple-digit increase in new COVID infections were putting “stress on our healthcare system.”
Businesses not considered essential include personal services (like salons and barber shops), gyms, and restaurants, which will have to revert to takeout only. Beaches and parks will also remain closed.
UPDATE 8.23.2020: Community Leaders are standing up to government corruption and incompetence. My good friend, David Shapiro, who authors Volcanic Ash, criticized Gov. David FrankenIGE, claiming the governor’s “penchant for taking advice only from a small circle of political backers and lackluster subordinates, while freezing out contrary voices, is problematic in normal times and disastrous in a crisis.”
“What do you call a public health effort that doesn’t test, doesn’t contact trace, and doesn’t quarantine? I can think of a few colorful words, but none of them are polite.”
Dr. Jonathan Dworkin
Dr. Jonathan Dworkin says frank talk between Hawaii’s doctors and its state government is long overdue. Dr. Dworkin points out “we’re looking at 200+ cases per day, and that’s with 90% of the tourism industry dead. The numbers here are staggering. There’s no excuse for them. It’s failure on an immense scale, and it can’t be hidden or deflected.”
“I have largely refrained from criticizing DOH and HI-EMA in public, as have most of my colleagues. This is because we were desperate (too desperate, I now realize) to understand them and work productively with them. We assumed, as decent humans do, that they must need help. But what we encountered was an impermeable wall of arrogance. No mistake admitted. No desire to be proactive. No transparency. No accountability. And the constant insistence that only they could provide core functions that they were, in fact, unwilling to provide.”
Dr. Jonathan Dworkin
Richard Borreca, in a Special to the Star-Advertiser, claims if there was a plan, it either vaporized or didn’t work — because [State Epidemiologist Sarah] Park and [Department of Health director Bruce] Anderson have been scrounging around to come up with maybe 100 contact tracers and suddenly discovering that the office building where they have worked for years is old and overcrowded.
“Losing isn’t just acceptable to these people, it’s a habit.”
Dr. Jonathan Dworkin
Deborah Zysman, Josh Frost and Sunny Chen wrote in their column, Hawaii’s unemployed suffer as delays persist with governor, “that’s why we were dismayed late last month when, after the Legislature allocated urgently needed resources to help struggling Hawaii residents, Gov. David Ige line-item vetoed $370 million of the allocations, including $100 per week in unemployment insurance ‘plus-up’ payments to Hawaii’s unemployed workers.”
Gov. Ige and the Legislature need to feel a sense of urgency and get these hundreds of millions of dollars to those who need it most. They have just over four months left to spend it, and Hawaii’s struggling families literally can’t afford to wait any longer.
Deborah Zysman, Josh Frost and Sunny Chen
David Shapiro specifically called out officials Sunday:
- The latest emergency order hatched by Gov. David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell, called “Act Now Honolulu — No Social Gatherings,” only confused residents and businesses about the rationale and what they’re supposed to do.
- A U.S. House health subcommittee accused Ige and his Health Department of spreading “conflicting and false information” on COVID-19 to the public and demanded accounting of $50 million in federal funds given Hawaii for contact tracing.
- As Ige showed off his new contact tracing center, still 300 tracers short of what’s recommended for our population, Health Director Bruce Anderson repeated his discredited claim that contact tracing won’t work and blamed the public, not government confusion, for the worsening pandemic.
- The state slow-walked COVID testing at Oahu Community Correctional Center, testing only 606 of 973 inmates between Aug. 11 and Aug. 19 despite 215 positive cases among inmates and 41 among staff.
- Anderson described the 261 new Hawaii cases reported that day as “reasonably good news” because 56 of them were from the prison.
- The Ige administration stalled funding and staffing for a panel of corrections experts asked by the Hawaii Supreme Court to help solve overcrowding at OCCC in the pandemic.
- A state House committee grew so frustrated with paltry COVID data given the public by the Ige administration on how and where the virus is spreading that it’s starting its own parallel system to gather and disseminate data.
- Hawaii’s 257 public schools reopened without written guidelines from the Health Department, leading to scenarios such as one principal who said he had to make safety decisions from his gut and what he saw on TV.
- The Department of Education sat on a three-month supply of personal protective equipment while school employees had to buy their own safety supplies and plead for public help.
- Ryker Wada, state human resources director, told a state Senate panel that some state employees working from home aren’t actually working, but couldn’t explain the criteria for working at home and ducked responsibility for oversight.
This is the opposite of science-based health care. Because science requires humility. It requires that you notice what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your approach accordingly. It requires openness. It requires collegiality. It requires personal accountability. The state doesn’t lack access to brains and talent. But our state bureaucracies worship control, and their administrators (I refuse to use the word “leaders”) are critically short on these other qualities. What they’re not short on is spin, excuses, and hostile redirection.
Dr. Jonathan Dworkin
On the other hand, while beaches, parks, trails and hiking are closed, Andrew Gomes applauds the government’s success of Kama’aina golfers keeping Oahu courses swinging during pandemic.
UPDATE 8.20.2020: Governor David FrankenIge defended Hawaii’s contact-tracing efforts Wednesday as “better than average and amongst the best in the country.” Ige’s officials initially claimed around 100 tracers, yet upon review there were only ten on O’ahu and around 20 statewide. Lt. Gov Green says around 500 are needed to meet national standards. David Ige lied to all of us.
DOH Director Bruce Anderson has now shifted blame to residents, “What’s going to stop this disease from spreading in Hawai’i is not the number of contact tracers, it’s going to be everyone’s behavior.” Anderson said contact tracing is only one part of a multi-pronged C19 containment approach and isn’t effective when case counts are soaring.
DOH Disease Investigation Branch chief Emily Roberson, hired July 16 and replaced Sarah Park who was forced to step down, claims there are now 126 contact tracers on the job and another 13 support staff.
For Dave Ige, having 126 of a needed 500 is acceptable. He’s rich and protected. You’re not and he doesn’t give a pineapple about us.
UPDATE 8.17.2020: Source close to health department reported Sunday state DOH Director Bruce Anderson is on personal leave. It’s unclear who is running the agency. Officials now plan a second lockdown. (NOTE: After taking a few days off last week “to rest and re-energize,” Anderson is back on the job today.)
“My feeling is that the governor has to exert leadership. He has been lied to by the director of health and by his epidemiologist and he has been lied to repeatedly and in a pandemic. This is unacceptable when people’s lives are being lost because of this deception. So these people must be taken out of their roles. I’m not the only voice that is saying that.”
Dr. Scott Miscovich, the president and founder of Premier Medical Group Hawai’i
Dr. Miscovich warned the number of patients we’ll see in our hospitals, emergency rooms and intensive care units will surg over the next weeks because (Sunday’s) numbers won’t be reflected until two weeks into the future and our facilities are already close to capacity.
“We need to hit the pause button, stay at home, and at the same time ramp up to over 400 contract tracers and over 10,000 tests a day. If you do that the virus will be contained.”
Lt. Governor Josh Green
UPDATE 8.15.2020: Tulsi Gabbard: “How many more people need to die before state leaders take necessary action?”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for the resignation of DOH Director Bruce Anderson and state epidemiologist Sarah Park in April and again this week, as reported below. Tulsi sounded another alarm Friday alerting residents there are fewer than 10 contact tracers on Oahu and less than 20 across the entire state — not the nearly 100 DOH officials claimed this week. Lt. Governor Green says the state needs around 500.
“For the last three months, we have heard wildly different and conflicting information coming from state leaders about how many active contact tracers they employed. Even as they reported dozens or even over 100 contact tracers were working, in reality, there were around a dozen contact tracers working statewide, overwhelmed and ill-equipped to do their job. … The lies and gross negligence coming from state leaders has resulted in thousands more infected, hundreds hospitalized and an increasing death toll. How many more people need to die before state leaders take necessary action?”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
UPDATE 8.13.2020: State Epidemiologist Sarah Park relieved of command over Contact Tracer program. Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Emily Robinson was hired July 16 to direct the Health Department’s Disease Investigation Branch. She will now coordinate the program.
Ms. Park’s boyfriends didn’t believe she should be fired. Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki were unwilling to join U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard calling for the ouster of Anderson or Park. People at the top in Hawai’i take care of their friends.
“I just hope the Health Department will be more open to accepting help.”
House Speaker Scott Saiki
“I’ve been clear since back in April. We needed to get additional contact tracers.”
Senate President Ron Kouchi
The DOH continues to make excuses: “Bruce Anderson and Dr. Sarah Park have led the pandemic response efforts based on sound national guidance and have had to work within constraints. They have been able to navigate this pandemic and helped us achieve many positive milestones that many have forgotten.”
By the end of the week, the incompetent bureaucrats claims there will be 100 contact tracers in the state. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the number of Hawaii’s contact tracers fall short of national recommendations of 420 to 564.
Sarah Park and Bruce Anderson get paid while our friends and family get sick and die.
UPDATE 8.12.2020: U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard sent a tweet to Gov. David Ige Tuesday saying Anderson and Park “need to go.”
“This is your responsibility. Your Health Director is keeping hundreds of trained contact tracers ‘on the bench’ because he doesn’t think they’re needed. Meanwhile, we have the highest infection rate in the nation. This is gross negligence.”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
UPDATE 8.11.2020: The Hawaii Government Employees Association filed a grievance last Friday against the state Department of Health alleging there are only 15 epidemiological specialists on Oahu and three on the neighbor islands to perform contact tracing for thousands of potential COVID-19 cases. [source]
HGEA’s allegations contradict reports made by DOH Director Bruce Anderson during an Aug. 3 media briefing and State Epidemiologist Sarah Park during an Aug. 6 hearing of the Senate Special Committee on C19. Both claimed the state has about 105 active contract tracers that could be increased as needed.
Lt. Governor Green called to relieve both Anderson and Park of their responsibility for managing the state’s contact tracing as well as quarantine and isolation response. U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called for Anderson and Park to resign in April.
The world pities the U.S. as the nation now surpasses five million confirmed C19 infections, by far the highest of any nation, and suffers the world’s-highest death toll of more than 160,000. Health officials believe the actual number of infections is perhaps 10 times higher, closer to 50 million, due to testing limitations and the fact as many as 40% of all those who are infected have no symptoms.
“There’s no national strategy, no national leadership, and there’s no urging for the public to act in unison and carry out the measures together.”
Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Incompetent Hawai’i Officials Murder Residents
As pointed out previously, state officials and politicians didn’t take the growing pandemic seriously. Like President Trump, they appeared to believe the disease would fade away. My U.S. Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, called for resignations April 9th (story).
“I hate to paint a picture that bad, but it was that bad.”
Hawai’i State Senator Sharon Moriwaki
I had pleaded and begged Governor FrankenIge and my good friend, Lt. Governor Dr. Jekyll Green, weeks earlier to #MaskUp the population March 19th (story). Time was of the essence. They hesitated. People in Hawai’i died.
Hawai’i is now a “super spreader.” Dr. Scott Miscovich, president and founder of Premier Medical Group Hawai’i, directs C19 testing sites and reported Saturday Hawaii’s reproduction number, R0, pronounced “R naught,” is now 1.36. This means people who test positive for coronavirus in the state will infect an average of 1.36 other people.
“National statistics show that for every one person that tests positive for coronavirus in Hawaii, the number of people that they are spreading to is the highest in the country.”
Dr. Scott Miscovich
Hawai’i is antiquatedly divided by gender. Men are sent outside to do the heavy lifting and dangerous tasks. Women work indoors at desks or with people. Some 90% of administrative staff are female; medical workers nearly all female (see Hawai’i Nursing & Dental Hygiene). Public health and social workers nearly all female.
This is dangerous in a pandemic. Research shows females are more risk-adverse than men. Men go to war. They work in dangerous jobs. Women are nurturers. They focus on protecting their children and homes. Women describe the C19 pandemic as “horrifying,” “terrifying” and “scary.” War is all these things. Yet men have been asked to serve for centuries.
Consequently, if we look at state and national trends, men are most likely to demand we reopen our economy. Women prefer to remain at home. Both men and women are right. C19 puts us between a Rock & Hard Place. To be safe, we should stay home. Yet if we stay home, we run out of food and eventually die. This is war. There are no easy answers and people are going to die.
Working with a local state representative months ago, I asked Amy Perruso to help #MaskUp volunteers and staff assisting DOE food drives. She objected when I called the pandemic the Third World War (story). War scares her. Scares other women.
Female-dominated DOH continues to react too slowly. Female-dominated DOE was unable to open schools on time — although they had over six months to prepare. The female-directed Contact Tracing program is moving through lava.
The next track, which will turn out community contact tracers, is a an expanded six-week program for those with bachelor’s degrees who don’t have clinical backgrounds. Training, which is offered digitally for six weeks and comes with academic credits, is free to participants thanks to CARES Act funds.
I certified as a contact tracer in a weekend through Johns Hopkins University. Hawaii’s program takes over six weeks. Female managers claim, “It’s not an easy job. Tracers have to build enough of a rapport with COVID-19 patients that they’ll be willing to talk to them when they are sick and to reveal personal details of their life.”
I have ten years directing survey research centers. We were one of the groups calling you during the dinner hour asking you to complete an interview. Building rapport is critical. I trained 1,000s of young researchers and we were highly successful.
I applied twice and was denied twice by the DOH Contact Tracing program.
Thank you for taking the time to submit your application, with essays, to the Community Contact Tracer Training program. The Selection Committee members were very impressed by your responses. We received an overwhelming number of applicants, making it difficult to select only 35 new trainees at this time.
Doesn’t take a PhD, even a Bachelor’s degree or clinical background to build rapport with people. Some of the most competent people building rapport have relatively little formal education. The Hawai’i State Department of Health partnered with University of Hawai’i, which is typical here. Short on financial resources, administrators allocate money to the top, not toward solving the challenge.
C19 Pandemic Is The Third World War
We are at war. And in war, civil liberties are suspended. Local government just closed beaches and parks last Saturday. They’ve implemented mandatory face covering rules; shuttered bars, restaurants, large gatherings, and even churches. This is war. Put on your uniform (#MaskUp), physically distance, be clean, wash your hands — and contribute to the state, national and global war effort.
Ironically, the State of Hawai’i boasts one of the best C19 responses in the nation. This is like being the top team in the worst football conference. Statewide, Hawai’i coronavirus case totals exceed 4,825 with a death toll of 40 (Aug 15th). [source]
Comparatively, the nation of New Zealand with five times the population of Hawai’i reports 1,219 confirmed C19 cases and 22 deaths (Aug 10th). Hawai’i considers 2,977 infections to be active cases (8.15); New Zealand currently lists 21. [source]
Hawai’i is in a massive wildfire as the state battles a second wave of infectious breakout, reaching a record-setting peak of 284 confirmed case August 15th (below). New Zealand reported 100 days of no new C19 infections this past weekend. (NOTE: NZ suffered four infections on their 102nd day; up to 17 new infections 8.13.2020. They have tested 6,000 people and reinforced lockdowns. This is why they lead world battling the disease.)
“There’s also been an explosion of cases in Kalihi with the Pacific Islander community. Pacific Islanders are getting crushed, and not traced.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green
Pacific Islanders are getting crushed, not traced, and are hardest hit in Hawai’i (below red). The community represents about 4% of the local population and suffers around 30% of infections. This includes people from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands and other Pacific islands. They are highly susceptible to C19, as a high percent work as essential employees or live in multi-generational family homes.
Dr. Green, along with Dr. Scott Miscovich, demand the DOH expand hiring not only to relieve the workload for current staff, but to avert a public health disaster.
Calling Samoan Leaders, like Senator Mike Gabbard and U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, to the rescue.
High caseloads and test lags mean DOH’s tracers can’t get to cases fast enough. Ideally, Miscovich said tracers would contact a C19 patient within 24 to 48 hours, but even the DOH admits in some cases it’s taking 72 to 96 hours. Critics say the time frame is sometimes even longer, especially when there are added complications like extra-large families that need translators.
Jendrick Paul, president of Marshallese Community Organization of Hawai’i, said he’s aware of four individuals from separate Pacific Islander families who tested positive for C19 Aug. 3rd, but six days later still hadn’t been contacted by DOH contact tracers.
He said another C19 patient, who is part of a family of 17 people who live in a two-bedroom, one-bath home, is still waiting to be contacted two days after learning of the infection.
“In one of the four cases, one of the positive people is sleeping in the living room because he doesn’t have a room to stay. That poses a greater risk to this household. It’s hard for everyone in the family not to catch it.”
“One of the family members is a dialysis patient. The quicker the response from the DOH contact tracers, the quicker they can find out stuff from families and be able to react to it better and provide resources.”
Jendrick Paul, president of Marshallese Community Organization of Hawai’i
On Friday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green Green, MD, called for State Epidemiologist Sarah Park to be removed from the job of managing the contact tracing program for the state. Green wants 400 to 500 contact tracers in the state’s arsenal. Park told a Senate committee last week the DOH has 105 active tracers with 62 on O’ahu.
“We have over 1,600 active cases right now and we have to stop it. We can either contact trace or lock down.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green
Jendrick Paul is worried state DOH contact tracers can’t keep up with the surge of coronavirus cases in Hawaii’s tightknit Pacific Islander community.
The Contact Tracing Program trained 450 potential tracers by the end of July. State DOH Director Bruce Anderson said most available tracers are on the bench for when they are needed. On the bench? People are dying! Fire the director as well.
Tamy DeLeon graduated in the first training class. She’s a retired nurse who was inspired by the pandemic to give back to the community. “I’m in a holding pattern waiting for their call.”
Aimee Grace, University of Hawaii System lead and director of the UHealthy Hawaii Initiative, said there are plans to train at least a couple of hundred more by year’s end. How many residents will be dead by year’s end? This is war. The enemy is knocking down our door. Get into the battle!
“We were pleading with them to ramp up contact tracers when we were at 10 and 20 cases a day. They should have been assembling an army. If it gets to the point that we have too many cases to trace, we will be condemned to locking down or watching the virus roll over us.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green
Epidemiologist Sarah Park was unable to provide a clear answer about the number of tracers employed full time by the DOH. Couldn’t provide a count of volunteers or Hawai’i National Guard employees. Couldn’t answer queries why the DOH hadn’t accepted offers for additional volunteers from places like Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade and Tripler Army Medical Center.
Park said the DOH could only add additional contact tracers as part of a phased-in approach that accounted for work space limitations and the need for the team to work well together. Space limitations? There are hundreds of empty hotels. Tracers can also work from home. Work well together? We’re professionals. Sarah Park can’t manage a war effort.
State Senator Sharon Moriwaki (D, Waikiki-Kakaako-McCully-Moiliili) said Park’s responses prompted a surprise visit by the Senate committee to the DOH on Friday. Members were horrified by the understaffing and poor working conditions.
“We only saw about 10 workers and two supervisors here. It was like a sweatshop. People were working 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, including weekends. One person had a caseload of 190 cases, another 100.”
Sen. Sharon Moriwaki
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