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Making new traditions for a COVID-safe holiday

Posted on Nov 25, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured

If you’re looking for some sound advice to celebrate the holidays safely, take a moment to check out First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige’s latest Facebook posts. Her recent “Q&A Hawai‘i” guests included Department of Health interim director Dr. Libby Char offering her perspective about celebrating safely and Dr. Bill Sheehan, a psychiatrist at DOH’s Honolulu Family Guidance Center, who shares his hopeful approach to handling the pandemic.

“Dr. Char’s segment also helps us get to know her,” said Mrs. Ige. “Her love and concern for Hawai‘i and protecting everyone’s health comes through in her advice to us. She’s not scolding; she’s offering her best health-based recommendations. She’s urging us to gather virtually or a little differently this year to keep everyone safe.”

Mrs. Ige will read the classic “The Night Before Christmas” on ‘Olelo, Channel 53.

Mrs. Ige will read the classic “The Night Before Christmas” on ‘Olelo, Channel 53.

‘Olelo, Channel 53, also airs “Conversations with the First Lady” on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The December shows will include a reading by Mrs. Ige of the family favorite, “The Night Before Christmas,” a  glimpse inside Washington Place — the site of past holiday open houses — and a musical appearance by a “special guest” during the program. “Family is still at the core of our community and at the core of who we are,” Mrs. Ige said. “That’s the beauty of Hawai‘i. We just need to hold onto things that are dear to us in these difficult times.”




DOH interim director Dr. Libby Char talks story with the First Lady on Facebook.

DOH interim director Dr. Libby Char talks story with the First Lady on Facebook.

‘Q &A’ excerpts with Dr. Libby Char

Q. What inspired you to become an emergency physician?
In emergency medicine, you see people at their best and at their worst. We’re able to help them at that moment in time, even if it’s just comforting them or helping to educate. That really appealed to me.

Q. Why did you return home after working on the mainland?
A. I’m a Hawai‘i person. I have a whole bunch of brothers scattered across the mainland, but Hawai‘i has the things that I love. Also I have my parents here and lots of cousins and aunts and uncles.

Q. It’s been a little over two months since you took over as interim director at DOH. What are your current goals and priorities?
A. The overarching priority is the health of the people of Hawai‘i. It’s been a really huge challenge with the whole COVID pandemic. We’re just trying to get the department moving in a good direction, knowing this is going to last for quite some time, and partnering with others in the community, both private and public.

Q. With the state’s launch of the pre-travel testing program, do you have any advice for the local community?
A. Actually, yes. I know there are a lot of local people who want to travel (but) honestly, this is not a good time. You have to weigh the pros and cons. We’re seeing the COVID numbers spike again all across the United States as well as across Europe. The ICUs are starting to get full on the mainland. Thankfully, we’re not in that situation here, but we don’t want to be in that position.

Q. Does the pandemic mean we need to skip our traditional family gatherings? What are your safety recommendations?
A.  We’re such a social culture in Hawai‘i. That’s one of the beautiful things about us. But this year we need to do it differently — maybe something that’s virtual or small gatherings with masks and distancing. And there’s light at the end of the tunnel. When we get our population vaccinated, I think we’ll see our (case) numbers stabilize and go down.

Read more in the December Capitol Connection newsletter
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