Ohio health director Amy Acton surprisingly resigns amid coronavirus pandemic

Ohio health director Amy Acton surprisingly resigns amid coronavirus pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Turning down pleas from Gov. Mike DeWine to stay on the job, Dr. Amy Acton surprisingly resigned Thursday as director of the Ohio Department of Health amid the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine said Acton’s resignation is effective Thursday, although she now will become his chief health adviser. “It is difficult for me to put in words how grateful I am for Dr. Acton’s service to the state,” he said.

The governor said he has asked Acton, who was appointed health director on Feb. 26, 2019, to “take a big picture look” at improving public health while still working to address the pandemic.

Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton at a coronavirus news conference Saturday, March 14, 2020 at the Ohio Statehouse. Behind her is Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (left) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Acton became both a beloved and polarizing figure to Ohioans for her candid, personal talks at televised news briefings and for issuing orders closing down parts of the state’s economy that some found excessive.

Thursday, Acton quickly recounted her tenure, praising local health officials, members of her team and those on the front lines of battling the pandemic. She also thanked her family, the governor — and the highway patrol protective detail assigned to her after threats.

“It is my honor to continue to work for you,” Acton said. “I am more determined than ever."

“Her knowledge, compassion, and determination have set an example for all of us, and Dr. Acton’s extraordinary bedside manner and wise counsel have helped us all get through this pandemic,” DeWine said. He praised her “extraordinary bedside manner.”

Arizona's COVID-19 spread is 'alarming':Action is needed, experts warn

Stocks on track for biggest drop since March:Concern about economic recovery, coronavirus spikes

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine makes a point, as State Health Director Dr. Amy Acton looks on, at a mid-March coronavirus briefing.

Asked what made her resign, Acton’s audio feed went silent for many seconds. The audio returned with Acton saying she now will have time off to spend with her family, whose home has attracted protesters.

Asked if pressure from protests against her health orders and attempts by lawmakers to strip away her powers prompted her to walk away, Acton said, “A lot of that was not my focus.”

Acton said she had been struggling with offering her resignation over the past couple of months, suggesting it took a personal toll. She talked of “kind of a shift” as the pandemic eases, making it a “good time” to leave.

State Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, an opponent of closing down Ohio during the pandemic, was gleeful over Acton’s departure. “I am hearing she is still on the tax payer dime but Actin’ Acton has resigned as Health Director. I say NOT good enough! 1 down, 2 to go of the Terrible Tyrannical Trio!” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Lance Himes, chief lawyer for the Ohio Department of Health, will become interim health director, DeWine said. Himes once held the same role under former Gov. John Kasich.

Numbers show promise in Ohio

Meanwhile, despite fears of outbreaks as Ohio reopened for business over the past several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic, cases of the potentially deadly infection have fallen by one-third from early May.

Ohio averaged 605 new cases a day from May 1-10, a figure that fell 33% to 407 new daily infections over the first 10 days of June, according to a Dispatch analysis of state health department figures.

The number of confirmed and probable cases decreased even as COVID-19 testing increased — although far short of the level state officials had planned as key to helping check the spread of the highly infectious virus.

Testing for the virus increased 58% from an average of 7,002 a day in early May to 11,098 a day this month through Wednesday.

DeWine said Thursday that after previously prioritizing virus tests for first responders, health care workers and those with symptoms “anyone who wants a test in the state of Ohio now can get a test.”

“We are still working to expand testing,” DeWine said, adding tests are available at pharmacies, community health centers and a number of other locations to anyone, with symptoms or not.

“We’re making progress.” DeWine said, pointing out free testing being made available in minority neighborhoods, including in Columbus. The state is posting testing locations online.

After stay-at-home orders closed nonessential businesses and isolated Ohioans beginning March 23, Gov. Mike DeWine and State Health Director Dr. Amy Acton began lifting restrictions May 4.

General offices and other businesses were allowed to reopened that day with six-foot social distancing and other virus precautions, followed by retail stores May 12 and other businesses and venues as the month went on.

Both DeWine and Acton expressed fears of a rebound of virus infections as more people interacted. But the reopening has not been accompanied — to this point — by a spike in cases.

A caveat: Virus symptoms in some people do not appear for up to two weeks after infection. DeWine also is concerned that the mass protests against police brutality and racism could spread coronavirus.

“Ohio’s economy has safety and gradually reopened ... we have some good momentum going. People are going back to work,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.

Ohioans have filed an unprecedented 1.3 million unemployment benefits applications, but many are returning to work, Husted said.

Reach reporter Randy Ludlow via email (rludlow@dispatch.com) or on Twitter (@RandyLudlow)

More:US coronavirus survivor receives double lung transplant after virus leaves holes in lungs

Coronavirus news and updates: 2 million cases confirmed in the US; COVID-19 spreading in several states; the pandemic and your retirement

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/11/amy-acton-ohio-health-director-resigns-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/5345010002/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »