Amy Acton: The Face of Ohio’s Coronavirus Task Force


Abby Turner, Writer

If you have tuned into the daily press conferences on the coronavirus from Gov. Mike DeWine, you know the expertise from Dr. Amy Acton, Director of Health for the Ohio Department of Health. Acton has become the trusted face of Ohio’s coronavirus task force. Along with Gov. DeWine, early and necessary actions were enacted to keep Ohioans safe. These serious precautions have deemed Ohio one of the front runner states in the fight against the coronavirus.

As more attention is put on the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton’s determined story is being honored. Acton was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and was raised there while moving around eighteen times in the span of twelve years. At one point in her childhood, she and her family lived in a tent while struggling with homelessness. Acton went on to attend Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, earning a medical degree. She completed her residences at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Additionally, Action holds a master’s degree in public health from Ohio State University.

Before being picked by Gov. DeWine as the director of the Department of Health, Acton held other positions in the public health field. She was an assistant professor of public health at Ohio State University, where she became involved in ENCompass (Empowering Neighborhoods in Columbus). Acton’s work in ENCompass showed her a strong passion for helping the less fortunate receive quality medical care. This work led her to her jobs as a grants manager at the Columbus Foundation and as the director of Project Love (Love Our kids, Vaccinate Early).

Dr. Amy Acton was Gov. DeWine’s last appointment for his cabinet. Before Acton, the position of director of the Department of Health was held by a healthcare lawyer and the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission. Gov. DeWine saw a need to strengthen the Department of Health in Ohio when he took office, so he took the time to find the most prepared director. In February of 2019, Acton was DeWine’s pick for the cabinet position and the first-ever woman to ever hold such position.

After being faced with the teen vaping issues and the Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak at Mount Carmel Hospital, she is yet again faced with another challenging task: the coronavirus. Acton was able to explain how to “flatten the curve” to the citizens of Ohio. The healthcare system cannot handle a sudden influx of infected patients. She estimated that even when there were only five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio, around 100,000 people could already be infected. So in order to save many lives and not strain the healthcare system, the cases of the coronavirus need to be spread out over a longer period of time. And since this, Acton has worked with Gov. DeWine in making sure the curve will be flattened in Ohio, like advising Gov. DeWine to be the first governor to shut down all schools. Ohio has since then taken steps to limit gatherings and closing places like bars, restaurants and gyms.

Dr. Amy Acton’s determination is being applauded by many. Citizens of Ohio recognize her hard work and the ability to make sense of a pandemic in a time like this. The local shirt company Homage is paying tribute to her quick and efficient action against coronavirus. The company is selling apparel with the words “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”. The proceeds of these shirts will go towards the Huckleberry House, a nonprofit organization in Columbus that assists at-risk youth from violence and poverty.

Announcing the new t-shirts in a Tweet, Homage said, “Not all heroes wear capes – sometimes, they wear tees. Stay healthy, and let’s support each other – no matter what.”