COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Dr. Amy Acton has resigned as Ohio’s health director, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday, capping a contentious few months as the target of frustrations during the coronavirus pandemic that included gun-carrying critics showing up at her home.
Acton was most recently sued by organizers of music festivals and restaurant owners as the slow reopening unfolded.
“I really want to say most of all to Ohioans: Ohioans, you have saved lives. You’ve done this,” she said at a news briefing.
Acton, who called her time as the state health director an “honor of a lifetime,” faced House Republicans seeking to restrict her authority last month due as frustrations grew over aggressive stay-at-home orders.
The governor has defended Acton, saying his fellow Republicans should be focused on increasing coronavirus testing, dealing with a $775 million budget deficit and reopening the economy.
“I will always believe and know that many lives were saved because of her wise advice,” DeWine said Thursday.
Lance Himes, the general counsel for the Health Department, will assume duties of interim health director as Acton goes on to serve as DeWine’s chief health adviser.
“It’s true not all heroes wear capes,” said DeWine, who has won praise for his handling of the disease in Ohio. “Some of them do, in fact, wear a white coat, and this particular hero’s white coat is embossed with the name Dr. Amy Acton.”
Running the department, handling the pandemic and advising the governor were three different jobs, Acton said, and she wanted to devote her efforts to one area.
She said she wants to take a few days off to spend with her family.