Ohio Health Manager Dr. Amy Acton, famous for some of the state’s early efforts to fight the coronavirus epidemic and criticized by others for public health regulations, is retiring from her role.
The announcement came on Thursday.
Acton will serve as state power Mike DeWine’s chief of health and “continue to focus on the COVID-19 crisis,” the governor said in a statement that also thanked her for her service.
Acton was targeted for unsuccessful work by the Ohio Republican House of Representatives to curb her powers. The Senate rejected it. Protesters also gathered outside her home demanding an end to the state̵
DeWine said Thursday that Acton told him this week that “it’s time for her to step down as health manager.”
Acton said that her role as health director was not one she ever imagined, but called it “a lifetime honor.” She said she was a representative of the many people who worked tirelessly to fight the epidemic and thanked Ohio residents for progress in the fight against the disease. “Ohioans, you’ve saved lives. You’ve done this,” she said.
Ohio introduced home-keeping measures that included shutting down some businesses as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus, steps followed by other states.
Acton was asked about the criticism of the orders and the public pressure, and she said it was a new experience for her, that she has never run for a chosen office.
“But I have to say, for anyone who does this job, you would be surprised at how much – a lot of it is not your focus,” Acton said. “… It has to be a one-point meditation on the task at hand, and it remains so.”
Lance Himes, the former director of the health department and who served Acton as deputy, was named interim director of the state health department.
DeWine praised Acton on Thursday.
“It’s true that not all heroes wear gowns – some of them actually have a white gown,” DeWine, a Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. “And exactly this hero’s white coat is embossed with the name Dr. Amy Acton.”
DeWine announced in February 2019 that Acton had accepted the position of head of the Ohio Department of Health, and during the first year they focused on issues such as lead color poisoning, infant mortality, suicide prevention and other issues, the governor said.
Then, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. DeWine said Acton began talking to him about the issue shortly after it was reported in the media.
“While the decisions were always mine, her advice has been excellent,” the governor said. “And I will always believe and know that many, many lives have been saved because of the advice I received from her and the great work she did.”
Ohio has had more than 40,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,490 deaths, according to the Ohio Department of Health website.
Across the United States, there have been more than 2 million cases and over 110,000 deaths linked to the disease across the United States as of Thursday night, according to NBC News.
Ohio is under a dozen other states, including states with a population similar to Georgia, and those with fewer people like Louisiana and Michigan, in the number of cases identified, according to those bills.
Like other states, Ohio has eased its public health restrictions around the corona virus and has reopened its economy. Bars and restaurants have been allowed to open again, and last week the governor announced that casinos and places like theme parks would open next week.