41. I’ll miss that voice

Friday June 12 2020

Dr. Amy Acton resigned yesterday from her role as director of the Ohio Department of Health. A surprise announcement for those of us in the normal citizenship, but it was a move she’d been considering for a couple of months.

Dr. Acton talked about the personal toll the job was taking, with her working day starting at 4:00am and going into the night; assessing data and making decisions that affect both lives and livelihoods. She said this daily routine was “not sustainable.” Governor DeWine claims it’s more than that, with lawsuits and the GOP pushing back by introducing and passing bills to curb her power. And then there’s the personal attacks by protesters on her lawn, of course some of them armed because Ohio. All this accompanied by anti-Semitic slurs hurled at her by those who were against her aggressive measures in flattening the curve.

I’m disappointed that she stepped down, but holy cow, I get it. Even when DeWine told the protesters to leave her alone and pick on him instead, nothing changed. She required protection detail from the State Ohio Patrol, which I wonder if a first for an Ohio health director. The degree of pressure she was under is something we can’t even pretend to understand. Yet she never changed her public appearance of grace, intelligence, and calm assurance.

It’s only been a few weeks, really, when you consider when we first were introduced to Dr. Acton and her distinctive manner. The first time I heard her voice, she redirected my attention from working on my laptop to looking over at the TV to see who owned that dulcet speech pattern. I eventually became a fan of this woman who could make bar charts seem interesting during her daily COVID updates.

Supporters say she saved lives by her recommendations to temporarily close businesses earlier than any other state was considering. Detractors are upset about loss of revenue and the hit to our state’s economy. Both sides have good points.

Aside from politics, I appreciate how Dr. Acton presented herself as a positive role model to girls, proving a strong woman with a soft voice can make impactful change. Not a bully, never shrill. She supported her actions with data and a will to do the right thing.

From cincinnati.com, June 11 2020:

For National Doctor’s Day, DeWine’s office compiled a video of children dressed up as Acton. The emotional video underscored how Acton transformed from a government employee to a symbol for Ohioans. 

“We’re going to be a great team and try to figure this out and not be scared,” one girl said, impersonating Acton. “We’re all a little nervous, but we’re not going to be scared.” 

Facing fears head on is a strong message for any child. But let’s be honest here, we could all use the mantra of “I’m a little nervous, but I’m not going to be scared” when adulting through the hard times.  

Dr. Acton will continue to work with DeWine as an advisor on health and COVID-19, but will be out of the spotlight. Hopefully can feel safe in her own home again, but possibly an unreachable goal.

I’ll miss her voice.

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