VIDEO: Supporters Back Maui District Health Officer With Sign Waving Demonstration
August 28, 2021, 8:23 PM HST
* Updated August 30, 7:01 AM
A group of about 40 people showed up for a sign waving demonstration in support of Dr. Lorrin Pang, Maui’s District Heath Officer. The two hour event was staged along Kaʻahumanu Avenue in Kahului on Saturday, fronting the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College where Dr. Pang had orchestrated the island’s first mass vaccination clinics of the COVID-19 pandemic on island.
Participants held signs that read: “I support Dr. L. Pang. He’s a good man,” “Dr. Pang is Irreplaceable,” and “Support Dr. Pang. Stop Cancel Culture.”
A petition in support of Dr. Pang has also surfaced on Change.org on Friday, and had gained 558 signatures by Saturday evening. Some of the comments include the following:
- “Dr. Pang has worked tirelessly for the people of Maui County ensuring their health and safety during his twenty + year tenure,” Denise Cohen of Kula wrote in the online petition.
- “If any person has ever invested boots-on-the-ground effort to improve the quality of life for the people of Maui County, it is Dr. Pang,” Deborah Stone-Walls of Kahului wrote.
- Kimberly User of Wailuku wrote, “Dr. Pang has been outspoken in helping remediate the 2-4xs arsenic and dioxin required by law here at Kahekili Terrace in Happy Valley.”
John Cheetham, who spoke as a private citizen, organized Saturday’s event to show support for Maui’s District Health Officer. “The main point I really wanted to get across is he has really served our community well for a long time. I just really wanted to show support for a man that I feel is a good man and deserves to keep his job,” he said.
Dr. Pang has been the subject of recent controversy as an article surfaced in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Wednesday in which the doctor was quoted in regard to unapproved treatments for COVID-19.
Later that evening, both Maui Mayor Michael Victorino and state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char issued statements, condemning the use of both hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. Dr. Pang is the co-founder of The Pono Coalition, a group that Dr. Char said is proliferating “misinformation” about the severity of the disease and the safety of vaccines.
According to the group’s website, “The Coalition advocates for true informed consent before taking the experimental COVID-19 vaccines, before authorizing for another, or before administering. We are not anti-vaccine, but pro-transparency. Our mission is simply to promote impeccable education on the benefits, risks and alternatives pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
The developments also sparked a call from Senator Roz Baker of Maui, calling on the governor and state health director to terminate the longtime Maui Health Officer; and for the Hawaiʻi Medical Board to review his license.
Dr. Pang released a statement on Thursday defending himself saying: “Standard therapies (in this case, oxygen, steroids, monoclonal antibodies) should be used for COVID. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are medications approved for other diseases. There are clinical trials evaluating the use of these medications for COVID. I agree with the FDA that hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin could of course prove harmful.”
In his response letter to the media Dr. Pang further stated: “As vaccine breakthroughs occur we need to be prepared to treat early and late stages of illness. I don’t see how early treatment alternatives affect vaccine acceptance rates, when one has to at least pass through a rapid, sensitive diagnostic tests to get to early treatment. I mentioned this in the Pono Coalition webinar. I also made valuable contributions to our public discussions, listened to the vaccine-hesitant arguments and explained why those arguments might at first seem correct, but were wrong.”
According to the group’s website, the coalition states: “We are not anti-vaccine, but pro-transparency. Our mission is simply to promote impeccable education on the benefits, risks and alternatives pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
“I think the majority of us are here today because we believe in Dr. Pang and we support all of the hard work that he has done for Maui County and our community, especially lately through this pandemic,” said Kris Marcello. “Personally I feel the media may have twisted a few words around that made him appear in a negative way. I believe that that is not his stance and his purpose of joining that coalition.”
According to Cheetham, “He helped organize the COVID vaccine clinics here at UH Maui College with a largely volunteer staff during an incredibly stressful time. And then also with the COVID-19 pandemic, when we first got those testing kits out. He was able to help orchestrate that testing event as well. He’s helped with Zika, Dengue, and a number of other diseases that we’ve helped to mitigate in the community.”
“He’s just open. He truly wants to understand a perspective and he cares about the community. He’s not above anyone. He’s down to earth and he treats people with respect,” said Cheetham.
Marcello described Dr. Pang as a “very intelligent man,” with many years of experience. He’s represented the World Health Organization, I know he’s been in the military. So he’s had a lot of experience and he is also a Medical Doctor.”
Simone Polak, spoke as a private citizen in support of Dr. Pang after working with him for six months as a volunteer coordinator at the mass clinics held at UHMC. “I want people to know that every day when we had the clinics, he would talk about getting people vaccinated… He was reaching out to people that were hesitant. He was explaining to us which were the new variants that were coming down that we might have to be prepared for and do more clinics over. Dr. Pang is pro vaccination and has never indicated anything else,” she said.
“Informed consent is of course an important part with vaccination. I don’t think any reasonable medical person disagrees with that,” said Polak. “He’s done a fantastic job in fighting COVID-19. He is committed to vaccination policy.”
“My sentiment is, anybody that says anything that is not towing the official line to the ‘T,’ is subject to cancel culture… Certain people do it one way, certain people do it another way and like I said, Dr. Pang is smart in trying to reach out, and he has gotten people who did not want to get vaccinated to get vaccinated. So, to crucify him and to do cancel culture over two words that he said is perhaps taken out of context. Because we don’t know. That’s what I’m saying. We don’t know how that came about. This is one of those examples,” said Polak.
“I’m just here to support Dr. Pang, and I’m raising that issue that it’s for everybody else to think what that means in context here,” said Polak. “I’m not often at protests, but I thought that it was very important to come down here to let people know that Dr. Pang is a good medical officer. He should keep his job.”