Ige says he ’did not lose confidence’ in Health, Public Safety directors

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Updated: Aug. 31, 2020 at 5:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige stood by his embattled directors of Health and Public Safety on Monday, saying he accepts their decisions to retire but did not ask for their resignations.

Earlier in the day, Ige announced in a news release that state Health Director Bruce Anderson and Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda would both be retiring in September.

Asked multiple times at a news conference, Ige insisted that he did not ask the two to step down.

“I did not lose confidence in Director Espinda or Director Anderson,” Ige said. “They did approach me about their retirements and I accepted their resignations.”

The governor added that his administration is working to improve its plan for handling the coronavirus pandemic, widely seen as not up to the challenge that faces the state.

“We continue to make improvements in our COVID-19 response as we identify gaps and shortcomings,” Ige said. “We are implementing actions to improve.”

The state health director, Anderson, has been widely criticized for his failure to ramp up contact tracing and testing ahead of a surge in new coronavirus cases on Oahu.

Experts say the significant missteps allowed COVID-19 to spread rapidly on Oahu, even as Ige and the state Health Department sought to reassure the public that they had the situation under control.

Espinda, meanwhile, has faced calls to step down amid a massive outbreak at the state’s largest jail.

The governor spoke on the same day that the state reported seven new coronavirus fatalities, the most in a single day in the islands since the start of the pandemic.

This story will be updated.

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