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Legislative leaders to Ige: Remove Maui’s district health officer over COVID statements

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 3:00 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 4:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s House speaker, Senate president and other legislative leaders called on the governor Thursday to remove Maui’s district health officer over his recent COVID statements and affiliation with a group spreading misinformation about the virus.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, the longtime head of the state Health Department’s Maui District Health Office, is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Pono Coalition for Informed Consent. In an unusual step Wednesday night, the state Health Department publicly rebuked the group.

“The Pono Coalition for Informed Consent is spreading misinformation about these lifesaving vaccines,” state Health Director Dr. Libby Char said, in a statement. “This is dangerous. The Coalition proliferates misinformation about the severity of the disease and the safety of the vaccines.”

A day later, legislative leaders followed up with calls for Pang to be removed.

In a letter to the governor, they said his involvement with the group directly conflicts with guidance from the Department of Health, CDC and generally accepted standards of medical practice.

“Dr. Pang has undermined the state’s critical public health message and public trust,” they wrote.

“Accordingly, after consultation with the Maui legislative delegation, we request that you immediately remove Dr. Pang from his position with the Department of Health. "

In his role with the state, Pang is tasked with helping to oversee Maui’s response to the pandemic and ongoing efforts to vaccinate the population.

Lawmakers say they are particularly concerned that Pang appears to support the use of two unproven drugs for treating COVID, including the use of an anti-parasite drug commonly used in horses.

Pang denies supporting the use of those drugs.

He sought to defend himself in a lengthy statement to the news media Thursday, which he titled “final public defense.” He said he is vaccinated and supports COVID vaccines.

“I entered into the Pono Coalition as “co-founder,” yes. To clarify, it was created so that two sides could have a public forum for conversation. My side represented medical science and informed consent (for getting a vaccine, testing, other interventions) and the other side of the group represented by Dr. Travis, a spectrum of concerns and arguments,” he wrote.

“I am now criticized about my perceived position on ivermectin, some saying that it was anti-vaccine and dangerous.”

READ THE FULL STATEMENT:

This story will be updated.

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