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Reporter/Sean Barron Dr. Amy Acton, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, talks with Howard and Lyndall Snyderman, longtime Jewish Community Center members, after her Sunday presentation at the center. An estimated 165 people attended Acton’s sold-out talk about her roles in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

YOUNGSTOWN – Dr. Amy Acton is well aware of the unspeakable grief and desperation caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but her coping therapy has always consisted of four “C” and “K” Communication, clarity, brevity, credibility and kindness.

“There’s no mandate. That’s what Ohioans do to beat each other,” Acton, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health, said, referring to the number of people who have outgrown themselves since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Acton, who is remembered by many Ohioans for her reassuring and affectionate voice of direction and guidance during the height of the health crisis, spoke Sunday at Youngstown’s Jewish Community Center, 505 Gypsy Lane, on the North Side. She shared many of her experiences before, during and after her role as an advisor to Governor Mike DeWine in the early days of the pandemic when he gave daily briefings on the topic from the Statehouse.

Her sold-out one-hour presentation likely resonated even more with the estimated attendance of 165 since she grew up on the North Side before transferring to Liberty in seventh grade and attending Liberty High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and Homecoming Queen .

Described by Acton, who lives in Bexley ‘Tough childhood’ Which entails constantly commuting over a 12-year period and dealing with her parents’ divorce and her mother’s illness, as well as being homeless, living in a tent, and eating little.

Despite these and other hardships, Acton attended Youngstown State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree before receiving her medical degree from Northeastern Ohio University School of Medicine (now Northeastern Ohio Medical University) in Rottstown in 1990, then earned her M.D. Master’s degree from The Ohio State University in Public Health. She also completed residencies at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

Acton, who said she’s never read from a script, told her audience that she always tried to be ‘brutally frank’ Regarding the dissemination of information about how the epidemic is spreading. This included helping craft what some saw as unpopular moves, such as advising DeWine on stay-at-home ordinances.

Acton remembers DeWine being the first governor to close schools and limit gatherings to 100 people or less — even though the state had only three confirmed cases of coronavirus at the time. Ohio was also the first state to temporarily close bars and restaurants with fewer than 40 confirmed cases.

In addition, she called for the postponement of the 2020 Ohio Democratic presidential primary, scheduled for March 17, 2020. The day before, DeWayne had annulled the election before a judge ruled that he lacked that authority. Acton then ordered the closure of more than 3,600 public polling sites statewide due to the public health emergency.

However, Acton also received opposition from protesters who rallied against the imposition of a stay-at-home order. In addition, she and some members of her family have been threatened on the dark web and stalked, Acton said, adding that the Ohio State Highway Patrol has offered protection to the family.

The medical expert and longtime public health researcher said she never looked for the spotlight, adding that she based her advice and measured decisions on design and the latest science, not fear.

“I was a very ordinary person who found myself in the crosshairs of history,” Acton said. “We all have moments in life when we can’t look the other way.”

In February 2020, I began preparing for the possibility of a pandemic in the state and country before gathering at the White House. “With the best scientists in the world” Acton remembers realizing that the virus was not under control and that it would inevitably spread.

called the epidemic “9/11 moment”, He said that a greater sense of national and international unity was seen in its early days, the same dynamic that occurred in the days, weeks and months following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Acton also referred to a Epidemic guide Written during the administration of President George W. Bush, he argued that such a health crisis was the country’s greatest threat because of its spread, duration, and severity – all of which gave it the ability to disrupt people’s lives for years.

Acton added that she hopes a commission on the pandemic will be appointed “The right people around the table and the best minds,” It operates similarly to the 9/11 Commission, which was formed in November 2002 to investigate the circumstances and provide an accurate account of the terrorist attacks.

Acton said she has also tried to help small businesses particularly affected by the pandemic, but the political climate surrounding the health crisis has hampered those efforts.

However, many people have tried to extract meaning from their experiences. For example, a woman painted a different color each day of the pandemic, and that pandemic spread before she contracted COVID-19 and resulted in about 250,000 prayers being offered to her, Acton explained.

If anything positive can be extracted from the health crisis that has led to the loss of so many lives and the continuation of grief, despair and grief, it benefits from “Seeds of Opportunity” that have been created. Acton told her audience that it includes benefiting from one another’s common humanity, as well as acting with courage, conviction, and kindness toward others while refusing to succumb to complacency.

After stepping down as director of the Ohio Department of Health, she worked for the Columbus Foundation, which was created to help donors and others strengthen the community. She also helped establish a Jewish nursery in Columbus.

This year, Acton was named president and CEO of RAPID 5, a collaborative nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing people’s connection with nature, improving access to parks in the Columbus area and aiming to create a vision for a single regional park network.

For her work, Acton received the COVID Courage Award in 2021 from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, as well as being USA Today’s Woman of the Year.

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