Dr. Amy Acton Steps Down as Ohio Department of Health Director

Acton will be staying on as DeWine's chief health advisor

click to enlarge Dr. Amy Acton Steps Down as Ohio Department of Health Director
Photo: YouTube screengrab

Dr. Amy Acton has decided to step down as the Director of the Ohio Department of Health. Gov. Mike DeWine announced the news during his coronavirus press briefing on Thursday.

Acton took on the role of director in February 2019.

"When the coronavirus hit China and we started seeing this on TV, Dr. Acton started talking with me about that. Her wise advice and counsel and her relationships with other doctors, other experts around the country and around the world have truly been invaluable and they have helped us get through this — at least get through the first part of this," he said. "While the decisions were always mine, her counsel has been superb. And I will always believe and know that many, many lives have been saved because of the advice that I received from her and from the great work that she did."

Acton will be staying on as DeWine's chief health advisor. In that role, DeWine says she will still focus on the COVID-19 crisis and serving the people of Ohio.


Former interim director of health Lance Himes will again step into that role. 

"It is difficult for me to put into words and express how grateful I am for Dr. Acton's service to the people of the state," DeWine said. "Her tireless service to the people of Ohio has clearly made a huge, huge difference. No one, no one I've ever met has more passion for helping people, has more passion for public health than Dr. Amy Acton."

Acton has received both positive and negative attention for her response to COVID-19, becoming somewhat of a pop culture celebrity for her folksy metaphors and attitude, winning awards and inspiring little kids to dress in their own white lab coats. The New York Times published an opinion video deconstructing the efficacy of Acton called "The Leader We Wish We All Had." Glamour magazine asked if she was the pandemic's "most Midwestern hero." 

Conversely, protesters picketed her coronavirus restrictions and infection statistics both outside of her house and outside of the Ohio statehouse.

For her part, during the press briefing Acton thanked those she served alongside, noting "it is a mistake to see all of what has happened as me." She also thanked her own family for their patience, as well as Ohioans for their efforts in stemming the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. And she thanked the governor.

"To be a governor during what is 100 years of history that has been packed seemingly into the last couple of months, to be a leader at this time, books will be written about this, and I just feel the deep honor of serving alongside this governor and will continue to do all I can," she said.

"A pandemic, it disrupts us — this little virus that we can't see in some ways has been bigger than all of us. But I think it's also opened us to see things in new lights; it's woken us up; it's creating new opportunities." 

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