Amy Acton

Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton

COLUMBUS -- Dr. Amy Acton has resigned as the Ohio Health Department director, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

Acton became a familiar voice and face during the COVID-19 pandemic, though she also became a political lightning rod among those who found her medical orders shuttering the state's economy obsessive.

She will remain the governor's chief adviser on health issues, according to DeWine, who said Lance Himes, the ODH general counsel, will be interim director.

DeWine said he tried to talk Acton into remaining in her post and praised her work, which included halting the state's in-person voting just before the March 17 primary election due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

She appeared with the governor during many of his daily 2 p.m. press briefings.

"When COVID-19 hit China, Dr. Acton started talking with me about it in January," he said. "Her wise advice and counsel and connections with other doctors and health experts led us safely through those first few weeks.

"While the decisions were always mine, her counsel was superb. I will always believe and know that many lives were saved because of her wise advice," the governor said.

DeWine credited Acton for his administration's focus on infant mortality, suicide prevention and modernization of the state's public health system.

"No one is more passionate about public health than (Acton)," DeWine said. "Her knowledge, compassion and determination have set an example for all of us, and (her) extraordinary beside manner and wise counsel have helped us all get through this pandemic."

Acton has been criticized by some for her many health orders since the DeWine administration issued its initial stay-at-home orders and closure of non-essential businesses in March.

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