Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Telephone Town Hall & Talks Shake Up at DOH, Need for Better Testing, Tracing, and Transparency

September 2, 2020
Press Release
Honolulu, HIThis afternoon, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a tele-town hall meeting to update Hawai‘i residents about COVID-19. She was joined by Dr. DeWolfe Miller, an epidemiologist, and Dr. Scott Miscovich who has been at the forefront of testing efforts across the state since the start of the pandemic.
 
This was the twenty-first coronavirus-related virtual town hall Rep. Gabbard has hosted since the pandemic began to impact Hawaiʻi.
 
 
Just as the event was scheduled to begin, news broke that Dr. Emily Roberson, the Department of Health’s new investigations branch chief and head of the state’s contact tracing program, had requested a leave of absence until chain of command issues can be sorted out. Reports indicate that Dr. Sarah Park, who had been removed as head of the contact tracing program, is blocking and micromanaging Dr. Roberson as she seeks to carry out her duties. 
 
“Earlier this week we saw Director Anderson step down and it’s long past time for Dr. Sarah Park to go as well. People will continue to get sick and die if the Governor fails to take action at this critical time. We’ve heard horror stories of people not being informed about exposure or being discouraged from getting tested even if they have been exposed,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “People across the state have made huge sacrifices to their day-to-day lives following preventative measures. They expect Governor Ige to lead, to make sure his Department of Health is doing its job with a robust testing and tracing program that is transparent and accountable to the public.”
 
Rep. Gabbard began the call with an update on the latest news, including Emily Roberson’s leave of absence request and Director Anderson’s announcement that he will be retiring. She noted that the state Department of Health throughout this crisis has consistently failed to step up to the plate and implement common-sense methods that we know work to stop this disease: testing and contact tracing. She noted her work in Congress with Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation that led to the state receiving over $50 million in federal funding for testing and tracing efforts. She emphasized that it is absolutely unacceptable that this funding has not been used to develop a robust testing and contact tracing effort in our state, and the outbreak that we are currently experiencing is a direct result of DOH’s failure in leadership.
 
Dr. Scott Miscovich and Dr. DeWolfe Miller both echoed the Congresswoman’s call to hold Hawai‘i’s leaders accountable for the state’s virus response thus far. 
 
Rep. Gabbard and her guests took questions live from callers, and discussed testing, the current outbreak on Hawai‘i Island, the status of another federal COVID stimulus package, and what is necessary for the state to reopen. 
 
She continued to emphasize the importance of testing and contact tracing to be able to identify where the virus hotspots are and how the disease is spreading. This is absolutely critical to stop the spread of this disease. 
 
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and her team have been working since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis to bring more resources home to Hawaiʻi, while also keeping Hawaiʻi residents informed through a resource hub on her website, https://gabbard.house.gov/COVID-19.
 
In addition to outlining federal, state, and local COVID-19 resources, the website provides a synopsis of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to address COVID-19 and related issues including protecting and providing for Americans during this public health crisis, securing emergency assistance, highlighting her votes and statements regarding legislation and Congressional action, as well as demands for protective measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
 
Rep. Gabbard has also sent regular e-newsletter updates and hosted virtual town hall events almost every week which include public officials and community leaders to provide updates and directly answer constituent questions.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major in the Army Reserves. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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