comscore Lee Cataluna: Petty politics playing into COVID-19 readiness? | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Lee Cataluna

Lee Cataluna: Petty politics playing into COVID-19 readiness?

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Don’t you worry.

Gov. David Ige has a plan to deal with the COVID-19 virus in Hawaii.

He has summoned all the best people in his administration to work on his team.

It’s all thought out, from the Department of Transportation dealing with rumors every time someone sneezes on a plane to the Department of Health having talking points about why test kits aren’t available yet. The Ige administration is working with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Department of Education … Every possible tool in the state’s arsenal of expertise is being brought to bear to keep Hawaii safe. They’re even talking about hiring Frank De Lima to do PSAs about the virus outbreak. That right there should show you how serious Ige’s administration is taking this.

So where’s Josh Green?

No offense to Frank De Lima, but I’d rather hear from Dr. Green about what to do, what not to do and when to worry. After that, I’ll be happy to take TheCab to my doctor’s office.

The lieutenant governor, the guy who steps in as acting governor each and every time Ige travels to Japan, has been conspicuously excluded from Ige’s COVID-19 response team. Green is not only a physician by training, but also a practicing emergency room doctor who sees people in various states of distress. For Green the medical stuff isn’t just academic journals and federal reports; it’s right there in front of him, all runny eyes and hanabata nose, specific and individual and real.

Green hasn’t been totally iced out. Green said, “As the lieutenant governor I support the effort with a particular focus on the health care aspects of the issue, contacting our local people who have been infected abroad, checking on the person in mandatory quarantine daily, and I have been in constant communication with our medical community. I contact the head of the CDC daily and communicate with White House leadership to see how Hawaii can be best supported.”

But Green has not been included in Ige’s news conferences. He has not been invited to situation updates. It sure looks from the outside like he’s getting the Shan Tsutsui treatment. Green has answered calls from quite a few journalists in town seeking, you know, an actual medical expert to weigh in on the coronavirus situation, but there’s a place where the LG should be standing just behind the governor’s shoulder ready to answer any medically wonky question should the gov toss one his way, and Green is not there.

Ige likes having Department of Health epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park on hand to answer the doctory questions, and she seems solid as a rock, with sure, measured answers. Park has degrees from MIT and Boston University and worked for the CDC, but perhaps one of her best qualifications in Ige’s estimation is that she is not running for elected office.

Green, on the other hand, has stated his intention to run for governor in 2022, as has Ige’s buddy Kirk Caldwell. Maybe Ige doesn’t want to give Green any face time for Caldwell’s sake. Maybe it’s for his own sake. Green came off as such a capable hero when he assembled the team to fly off to Samoa to vaccinate all those folks during the measles outbreak in December. Ige could be worried about looking even weaker than usual next to someone who actually knows what he’s doing. But if this is an “all hands on deck” situation, there are two trained hands that aren’t being included. It would be shameful if politics played any part in keeping a capable helper from helping with the state’s response to this threat.

Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or

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