COLUMBUS – Former Ohio health department director Dr. Amy Acton is encouraging Ohioans to “dig deep” one more time as the state experiences its greatest amount of coronavirus spread yet.
“We face a contagion fare more insidious than this virus and that is fear,” Acton says in a new video. “Fear paralyzes us and it leaves us turning inward and away from one another. It prevents us from being there to support each other. That’s exactly what we need to do right now.”
Acton stepped down from the director post in June and left the DeWine administration in August. She’s now the director of kindness for the Columbus Foundation’s Kind Columbus initiative. The video was published Friday to mark World Kindness Day.
Acton has given only one media interview since her departure. She told The New Yorker magazine last month the country needs “a long-term emotional survival strategy” to get through the pandemic.
In the video, Acton urged Ohioans to support each other during the next few months, especially health care workers who are feeling the strain of greater spread.
“Please, let’s commit to act on love, not hate,” Acton said. “Let us act on kindness and not fear. Being courageous – and we do need to be courageous now – does not mean that you don’t have fear, but it means you keep going anyways.”
Acton earned praise and fandom for her guidance and daily public presence in the early days of Ohio’s pandemic response. She also was criticized for early projections of the virus spread that are only materializing now and for health orders she signed that closed businesses and schools in March.
DeWine’s pick to replace Acton turned down the job citing harassment directed toward Acton, which included armed protesters demonstrating outside her home and an anti-abortion group publishing an interview with her estranged mother that questioned her mental health.
Ohio is now in its third surge of the virus, with a record 7,101 new cases and 3,024 current hospitalizations reported Thursday.
In the video, Acton said the coming months will be difficult and we “must make sacrifices this holiday season to safeguard all of the holidays to come.” She urged people to wear masks, keep physical distance from others and wash hands – each like a layer of swiss cheese that combined are more effective than any one act.
Acton said kindness is yet another layer that will help: “Don those capes, don your mask, don kindness and we will go on this journey with you.”