Interim DOH director: State is making progress in fight against COVID-19

Interim DOH director: State is making progress in fight against COVID-19
Dr. Libby Char spoke with Hawaii News Now on Monday (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s new health director opened up Monday about taking over the reins at the Health Department as the agency tries to get the upper hand on COVID-19.

Dr. Libby Char said she and her staff have been working around the clock on the crisis.

And she said more resources are needed.

“We needs more public health expertise. We need more funding, we need more testing materials, we need more knowledge about his disease," Char said.

“But the biggest thing I think we need is time. There are so many people working so hard on this.”

The state says it now has about 240 active contact tracers, and more than 500 reserves.

[Read a related report: Majority of people reached by contact tracers do not cooperate]

Char added that one of her priorities is developing what she calls strategic testing plans to track the disease without the need for surge testing.

“Testing is kind of complicated issue,” Char said. “It’s a little more nuanced that people realize. It’s not a matter of testing as much as you can.”

Char assumed the role of interim director for the Department of Health after Bruce Anderson stepped down as criticism against him and the department’s handling of the crisis mounted.

In her interview Monday, Char defended some of the city’s COVID-19 mandates, saying they weren’t perfect but she believed they were scientifically backed.

“It’s safer to be outdoors than indoors. It’s safer to have more distance between us than less distance between us, and it’s safer if we are together for minimal amount of time rather than longer time and hours and hours,” she said.

“The sooner we get a healthy community back is the sooner we can get the economy going again,” Char added.

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