COVID Is Real....And Here An Open Letter From Administrator Shawnee Douglas

August 25, 2021

On Monday, Aug. 16th I attended our regularly scheduled Emergency Operations meeting that began at the onset of Covid-19. As I listened to the concerns of the members around the table, I felt the need to update the people of Washington County of the seriousness of our situation.

In my position as administrator of the Washington County Health Department, I am able to see a picture of the predicament we find ourselves in. Covid is hitting our county even harder than it did at this point a year ago. People who have Covid now are sicker. The virus is infecting younger people. It is coming at us at an alarming rate.

As I am writing this, our hospital is close to being filled to capacity. There are many seriously ill patients. This hospital is faced with the overwhelming task of trying to find care for all patients no matter what their reason for admittance. The hospital was recently very close to having to send a patient out of state, because ICU beds in the surrounding cities were full. ICU beds are at a premium and critical access hospitals like ours are not equipped to care for these types of patients. WCAD is transporting critically ill patients’ further distances than ever before.  This puts a strain on the local emergency system and we have to backfill with off-duty / call in staff in order to meet the needs of the community.

As an employee of the health department and life-long resident, I care about the people here in Washington County. The prospect of looming numbers of people who may become ill is very distressing. We face a huge task of dealing with quarantines, unwanted and often ignored and many who will deny the very existence of Covid. In today’s world, I understand concerns of those feeling rights and freedoms being taken away and find it distressing myself.
I am asking you to reconsider if you are hesitant about getting this vaccine. Vaccine is available as conveniently as possible. Vaccine is available at the Washington County Health Department, Great Mines Health Center, Pharmax Pharmacy and Walmart Pharmacy. Our hospital will have it available soon in their clinics and offices. The ambulance district is willing to bring the vaccine to your home at no charge for those of you unable to travel or without transportation.

The Washington County Ambulance District will also bring rapid Covid testing to your home and do vital sign checks that may save you from an emergency room visit. They will be able to transfer you to the hospital if necessary. Please call their mobile health team at 573 438 3635 if you need any of these services.
Do your research. I am aware some of you are concerned with the record speed at which the vaccine was manufactured. There was an all-out effort in putting everything manufacturers had into speed and safety. The fact is that the technology used for this vaccine has been in the works for several years. The FDA moves slowly in approving any product. This was allowed on an “emergency use order”. Many other drugs that are used every day are not FDA approved for certain uses either.

Regardless of if you choose to take the vaccine or not, I am asking you to take responsible measures. Please stay home if you are sick or Covid positive, use good hygiene, handwashing and social distance when possible.

I do not want to see this county in division, casting blame, pointing fingers or shaming someone for their beliefs. Remember it is the virus we are fighting, not the person who makes a decision about the vaccine.

I am aware over the years I have been here that there are people against vaccine of any kind. Although I respect their ideas, I am very grateful that science came up with a vaccine for small pox, diphtheria, and polio and many diseases we no longer even think about. We would be in a different world without the advances of science that provide us with protection.

The Coronavirus is often a story told numerically; confirmed cases, fatality rates, hospital bed capacity, and vaccine rates. People have become hardened to the numbers and media reports. I ask you to look again and see what these numbers represent.

At the health department we see the cases pouring in and we are concerned. May I express my belief that God gives the gift of vaccine to help keep us well and safe. He gives humans intelligence to create drugs to save lives. Ultimately it is up to you to choose.

I highly respect my community and the people who live here. If you agree or disagree, I truly care about you. I have no political gain or motive. I have a bird’s eye view of the situation and am greatly concerned. Thank you for giving me a few moments to share my views from this side of the public health desk. God bless Washington County.

Shawnee Douglas,


Washington County

Health Department