Jessica Leigh Lebos
The People's Doctor
The disruptive course of the coronavirus pandemic took many of us by surprise, but Dr. Diane Weems saw it coming with eyes wide open. The former director of the Coastal Health District for the Georgia Department of Public Health spent three decades helping protect local communities from the threats of H1N1 (commonly called swine flu), Ebola virus, Zika virus and other infectious diseases, and she knew that a widespread epidemiological nightmare was not only possible, but inevitable.
“This is the kind of virus we’d always worried about,” Weems tells me, sighing, over a video interview during the shutdown. “In these days of global travel, it was going to end up here,” she says.
Though retired since 2016, Weems keeps up with scientific publications and preventative strategies, lauding the efforts of the medical community and others still working to contain the coronavirus spread and mitigate its impact.
“I’m just a citizen now, but once you’re in public health, you stay interested,” says Weems, who moved to Savannah in 1987. “Public health always has economic consequences, and watching it in real time, you realize how difficult it is to balance safety with security. I think our local leadership has done an outstanding job.”
Read the rest at Savannah Magazine.