Shasta County Fires Its Public Health Officer

If you thought the wars against public health officials were receding, think again.

Shasta County Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom, who led the county through the pandemic, was unceremoniously fired last week. Ramstrom says a review produced no accusations of poor job performance. But she had previously come under fire from COVID denialists for recommending the state adhere to state mandates as required by law. There were death threats against Ramstrom and her staff.

The vote to terminate Ramstrom was 3-2, with Supervisors Les Baugh, Patrick Jones, and Tim Garman in favor. Garman was elected two months ago in the militia-led recall against former Supervisor Leonard Moty.

Ramstrom now joins a long line of public health officials who have quit or been fired amid pressure from anti-science activists. Her departure is also part of a larger shakeup in public health. The county’s former Health and Human Services chief, Donnell Ewert, retired earlier this year.

Shasta County Supervisor Mary Rickert, who fought against Ramstrom’s termination, gave the following statement to A News Cafe:

“I am deeply saddened and dismayed by the termination of Dr. Karen Ramstrom. I personally voted against her termination and believe she has done an outstanding job of leading this county through the difficult times of the Covid 19 pandemic. I am grateful for her professionalism, leadership skills and medical knowledge to safeguard the health and well-being of Shasta County residents. She displayed a steadfast demeanor during volatile times and handled threats and insults with much grace. The outpouring of support I received through phone calls, emails and text messages for Dr. Ramstrom was overwhelming and I know she is beloved by many in this county.”