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Dr. Amy Acton breaks silence in interview with The New Yorker

For the first time since resigning in June, Dr. Amy Acton has opened up about her time as Ohio's Department of Health Director.
Credit: Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Since resigning in June, Dr. Amy Acton has uncoincidentally stayed out of the public spotlight.

But in an interview with The New Yorker, the former Ohio Department of Health Director has opened up about her time in the position and the country's continued response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While much of the story written by Paige Williams focused on the criticism Acton received in her role, it also provided new details regarding the circumstances surrounding her June resignation. In particular, Williams noted that at the time Acton resigned, the Youngstown native was concerned she might "she might be forced to sign health orders that violated her Hippocratic oath to do no harm" amid pressure from Republican lawmakers in the state to fully reopen the economy amid the pandemic.

After taking over as the Ohio Department of Health Director in February 2019, Acton became one of the faces of the state's response to the coronavirus. She received praise both locally and nationally for her calm demeanor and measured approach, with a New York Times video column calling her "the leader we wish we all had."

But while Acton was lauded by many, she also faced criticism from those who believed the state's response to the coronavirus, which included a stay-at-home order that lasted throughout April, was too severe. In May, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that would curb Acton's ability to issue orders longer than 14 days (the bill failed to pass in the state senate), while some protesters demonstrated outside of her personal residence.

While she remained an adviser to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine following her resignation, Dr. Acton stepped down from that role in August. According to Williams, Acton still informally counsels Gov. DeWine while now working full time for the Columbus Foundation.

Like many, Acton remains concerned as Ohio's -- and the country's -- coronavirus numbers continue to surge. That's why she told Williams that should Democratic nominee Joe Biden beat President Donald J. Trump in Tuesday's election, he shouldn't wait until his inauguration to provide leadership.

"We cannot wait two and a half months to start leading and messaging,” Acton said.