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Ohio’s Department of Health Director: Amy Acton

Dr. Acton discusses healthcare with U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Timothy Stuhlmiller. (Wikimedia Commons)

Every weekday at 2 p.m. Ohioans tune in to hear Governor Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and Ohio Department of Health Director, Amy Acton, to catch the latest news surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Acton has spearheaded the Ohio response to coronavirus– becoming one of the most proactive medical professionals in the nation. 

Acton has quickly become a familiar and comforting face for many in Ohio over the past two months, yet generally unknown to the public preceding the pandemic. Acton thas left no stone unturned in her response to the public health crisis. 

Surviving a childhood of neglect and poverty herself, Acton was diligent in school, earning a National Honor Society placement at Liberty High School in Youngstown. She studied pediatrics and preventive medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University NEOMED and received a master’s degree in public health from The Ohio State University. Prior to the governor’s appointment of Acton asthe first woman to serve as the Director of the Department of Health, she taught public health at OSU.  

In an interview with Time, Acton noted that she is “at her best during a crisis.” Acton’s calm, decisive direction for Ohioans throughout this crisis reaffirms this statement. 

Acton advised Governor DeWine to declare a state of emergency in Ohio when there were only three confirmed cases within our state lines. Additionally, Acton issued the 37-day long stay-at-home order, which began on March 23 and will end on May 1. Although her actions may have seemed extreme at the beginning of this crisis, physical distancing has brought the projected peak of new COVID-19 cases per day from 10,000 to 1,600.

On April 17, the Columbus Foundation awarded Acton with the Spirit of Columbus Award, which honors those in Columbus who “exemplify bravery, determination, and the resolve to see a challenge and tackle it.” 

Even though the public has generally been grateful for Acton’s contributions to Ohio’s coronavirus response, some do not feel the same way. During Acton’s daily addresses, protestors have gathered outside the statehouse, chanting, “O-H-I-O, Acton’s got to go.” Another demonstrator held up a sign reading: “Amy Acton- most dangerous woman in Ohio.” 

Acton’s decision to promote physical distancing through her stay-at-home order has upset some Ohioans, but the data shows her decisions have paid off.  If all of us in Ohio can hold firm and bear this tough time, we will all be better for it.


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