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Shasta County residents show support for health officer under threat of dismissal

 Members of the public spoke in support, and opposition, to Dr. Karen Ramstrom at Tuesday's board meeting.
Shasta County Board of Supervisors
Members of the public spoke in support, and opposition, to Dr. Karen Ramstrom at Tuesday's board meeting.

Shasta County's top public health officer has avoided a possible dismissal by county supervisors.

Dr. Karen Ramstrom, Shasta County’s public health officer, remains in her position for now, after facing angry protesters unhappy with her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and repeated calls for her termination.

Supervisors met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the dismissal of an unnamed public employee. However, Ramstrom’s dismissal has been brought up in prior meetings, and she faced a closed-door performance review in early March.

County officials would not respond to requests to confirm the employee in question.

Dozens of residents spoke in support of Ramstrom before the board Tuesday.

Shasta county resident Patrick Moriarty says calls for her dismissal are political, and adds the county shouldn’t remove public health officials for doing their job.

“Her performance over the last two years deserves to be applauded and commended," says Moriarty. "We are a safer and healthier community because of her and her leadership. This board has plenty of opportunities to resist and to buck state mandates.”

Just recently, the county board lifted nearly all its COVID related restrictions and expressed their opposition to state vaccine mandates.

Shasta resident Shannon Hicks warned of the consequences that result from politically motivated firings.

“A brain drain; with many fleeing that are here today, but also those who would be unwilling to ever consider employment in Shasta County for fear that they would be fired for capricious reasons," he says.

Board chair Les Baugh spoke after their closed session, saying supervisors took a lot of thought and considerations from the public into their discussion. They announced no reportable actions were taken.

While supervisors are required to report the firing of an employee, other disciplinary actions may remain a secret.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.