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Dr. Libby Char issues COVID warning: ‘We are on fire’

Posted on Aug 25, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Dr. Libby Char implored the public to help stem the surge of COVID-19 cases statewide

Dr. Libby Char implored the public to help stem the surge of COVID-19 cases statewide

The news couldn’t be more horrifying: Hawai‘i is seeing thousands of people infected with COVID-19 — more than any other time since the pandemic began. Just a few weeks ago, Hawai‘i had some of the lowest case counts in the nation. So what happened?  The highly contagious Delta variant hit our shores and has torn through the islands with a speed that has shocked even the most seasoned healthcare professionals.

“Look at the map where the cases are. It’s everywhere,” said Department of Health director Dr. Libby Char at an Aug. 13 news conference when 1,167 new cases were reported. “All the communities. The entire map is red right now . . .We are on fire.” The tragedy and the promise, which both Governor Ige and Dr. Char pointed out, is we have it within our power to slow the spread. “Friday the 13th has never been more frightening,” said the governor. “It is real, it is terrifying and, tragically, it is preventable. Our healthcare heroes on the frontlines are again being asked to save us. It is unfair — unfair because we all can save ourselves. The actions we take, each and every day, can make a difference in the battle against COVID.”

Those actions include getting vaccinated, wearing our masks, not traveling or gathering in groups and having a COVID plan in case you test positive. “Please, if you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated,” said the governor. “It’s the best thing to do to help yourself and our community. It is clear that the vaccines are safe and effective. They do an amazing job of preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.” The DOH is ramping up vaccinations, testing and contact tracing, but the sheer number of cases means residents need to help stop the spread. Dr. Char said the reason the DOH is concerned about travel-related clusters involving local residents is the likelihood they can spread it more widely. “Returning residents are mingling with family and friends, going back to work and can spread the virus to many, many more people,” she explained. For free testing sites, go to

People keep asking, “When will things get better?” Dr. Char replied, “It depends on what we as a community decide to do. We have the tools; we know what to do. I know you’re asking the governor whether they’re going to impose any more mandates. Honestly, I feel like my family doesn’t need a mandate to know what we’re supposed to do, and I think there are so many of you out there who are exactly in the same boat. We all know what to do. It’s just a matter of us doing it.”

Read more in the September Capitol Connection newsletter.

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