It might seem like a dubious distinction to have overseen the beleaguered contact tracing program that in part is blamed for allowing the virus that causes COVID-19 to grow from virtually no new cases a day in late May to so many cases now that Oahu has had to shut down for a second time.

But it seems Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist who heads the Department of Health’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, is so beloved by some DOH employees that they’ve started a campaign to stand behind her – complete with campaign-style buttons bearing a likeness of Park and the catchy slogan: “We With Sarah!”

There’s also a matching poster supporters have signed, adding handwritten notes like, “Sarah, You’re a diamond. They can’t break u!”

It’s a sharp contrast to a growing number of politicians, health professionals and residents who are decidedly “Not With Sarah!”

Campaign style buttons and a poster signed by employees are part of an internal effort to defend Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist who is under fire for her handling of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki was the latest to weigh in on Wednesday, saying: “The governor needs to remove Sarah Park immediately; otherwise, the situation will not be salvageable. The future of Hawaii requires decisive action by the governor now.”

Saiki’s view joined that of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard who has been calling for Park’s removal for weeks.

Janice Okubo, a health department spokeswoman, did not respond to Civil Beat’s request for comment about the “We With Sarah!” campaign.

Before you go

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.
 
The truth is that less than 1% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.
 
Will you consider becoming a new donor today?

About the Author