(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, who is also a medical doctor, says he doesn’t want anyone out there “to worry for one second” that he will not work 24/7 to keep people alive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lt. Gov. Green appeared before the Hawaiʻi County Council via livestream on Wednesday, where he addressed recent reports that he was no longer a part of Governor David Ige’s COVID-19 response.
Early on, Governor Ige announced the Lieutenant Governor would serve as the COVID-19 Healthcare Liaison. However, the Honolulu Civil Beat reported on March 24 that Green was “ostracized by the Ige administration” and “told to leave press conferences involving the governor and the Hawaii Department of Health.” He has not appeared at any of the recent press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic response. According to the article, written by Chad Blair:
Civil Beat interviewed a number of state and health officials who have been involved in the response effort for this story and agreed to let them speak anonymously because they feared jeopardizing their own positions in the effort if they were quoted.
They say Green’s background and outspokenness is seen as a threat to the governor and some of his Cabinet. Some suggest that politics is a factor, too, as Green is already running to replace the term-limited Ige in 2022. And he’s likely going to be running against Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, an Ige ally.
Governor David Ige posted a statement to social media following the article, saying “the Lt. Governor is not banned from news conferences and meetings. In this new COVID-19 reality, we are reinventing the way state government conducts business while implementing appropriate social distancing in meetings, news conferences and other activities. These gatherings are now limited to no more than 10 people. Therefore, we are bringing in those who are most directly involved with specific topics that are being discussed at our meetings and news conferences.”
On Wednesday, Green told the council that he will continue in his role as the COVID-19 Healthcare Liaison “completely”.
“The structure of this [state COVID-19 response] is General Hara, at the central command, is doing the job to make sure we have the big orders and the big response,” Green explained, “and I spend all of my time with the medical community making sure we inform him and the governor – to the best of our ability – of what actually has to happen to save lives.”
Green told the council he set up the task force and continues running the task force, “there’s no question about that”. He said the controversy may be about how he is not a part of the central command. “I guess we’ll get some clarification on that,” he told the council.
“What has been the process is: I do my very best to come with the policy that will save lives,” Green said, “and if I don’t feel its being received adequately, I tell the entire planet. And then after that, it gets adopted a few days later, once people catch up.”
“That’s an OK process, too, but really it would be a little bit better and more seamless if we just worked on the exact same page,” Green said, adding “I refuse to not be heard.”
“I have to be at the tip of the spear,” Green said. “Because I’m actually hearing about the cases and the fatalities and the risks in real time, that’s why the recommendations come up like that. I’m going to give the most advanced notice that we can get to do the right policy. And that’s what happened with the cruise ships, the testing statewide, and the lockdown until April 30th. All those things came to pass.”