Amy Acton

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Amy Acton
Amy Acton (cropped).jpg
Amy Acton in 2019
Director of the Ohio Department of Health
Assumed office
February 2019
Personal details
Amy Leigh Stearns

Amy Acton (born Amy Leigh Stearns 1965/1966)[1] is the director of the Ohio Department of Health. She became known for her role in leading Ohio's response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Early life and education

Acton was born Amy Stearns and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, living "in 18 different places in a 12-year period, including in a tent when she was homeless."[2] She described in a 2019 interview being neglected and abused while she lived with her mother following her parents' divorce.[3] During high school she lived with her father in a more stable environment and at Liberty High School was a member of the National Honor Society and Homecoming queen.[3] She earned a medical degree from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in 1990[4] and a master's in public health from The Ohio State University.[2] She served residencies at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine[4] and at Nationwide Children's Hospital.[2]  


Acton taught at Ohio State University as an associate professor of public health.[2] She worked at the Columbus Foundation as a grants manager.[5] She was director of Project LOVE (Love Our kids, Vaccinate Early).[6]

In February of 2019, Ohio governor Mike DeWine made her his final cabinet pick as director of the Department of Health.[2] The search process was lengthy, as DeWine had been determined to have the right person in charge in a crisis.[6] Acton is the first woman in the post.[4][7][8] The two previous incumbents were a lawyer and a marketing director; DeWine mentioned wanting to "rethink how we approach this department".[9]

In 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, Acton advised Governor Mike DeWine, who became the first governor in the nation to shut down schools and limit gatherings to no more than 100 people, despite the fact Ohio at the time had only 3 confirmed cases. Ohio was also the first state to shut down bars and restaurants, done at a point when Ohio had fewer than 40 confirmed cases.[10][11][12][13] Acton soon after estimated that Ohio's then 5 confirmed cases likely translated to 100,000 actual cases, making national news.[14][15][16] In mid-March, she predicted cases could peak in late April to mid-May.[10]

On March 12, she predicted of the coronavirus pandemic that "This will be the thing this generation remembers."[14] Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes called her "the real MVP of Ohio’s coronavirus response."[2] The Dayton Daily News called her "Ohio's trusted face during the pandemic."[6]

Acton was key in the decision to postpone Ohio's 2020 primary and issues election, which was slated for March 17, 2020. The day before the scheduled election, Governor DeWine declared it canceled, only for a judge to rule that he did not have the authority to do so. Acton then ordered polling places closed due a public health emergency.[17] It was later determined that the election would be conducted entirely by mail-in absentee ballot for those who had not participated in early voting.[18]

In March 2020, Ohio T-shirt manufacturer Homage released a t-shirt that paid tribute to her.[3]

Personal life

In 2010, Acton married Eric Acton, a middle-school teacher and track coach.[3][5][4] The couple live in Bexley and have between them six children.[2][5][19] She is Jewish.[19]

She was previously married to Douglas Beech, with whom she had three children. [20]

See also


  1. ^ Ludlow, Randy (26 February 2019). "Physician Amy Acton will lead Ohio Department of Health". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Gordon, Ken. "Amy Acton is calming leader in coronavirus crisis". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  3. ^ a b c d Miller, Jessica (20 March 2020). "Who is Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton?". WKYC. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  4. ^ a b c d "Amy Stearns Acton to lead Ohio Dept. of Health | The Pulse | Northeast Ohio Medical University". Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  5. ^ a b c Bischoff, Laura A. "Once homeless, doctor now to lead Ohio Health Department". daytondailynews. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  6. ^ a b c Schroeder, Kaitlin; Bischoff, Laura A. (16 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Who is Dr. Amy Acton, leader of Ohio's pandemic response?". daytondailynews. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  7. ^ Kasler, Karen. "First Woman Appointed To Lead Ohio Department Of Health". Ohio Public Radio. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  8. ^ "DeWine Appoints First Female ODH Director". Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  9. ^ "Once Homeless, Doctor Will Now Lead Ohio Health Department". Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  10. ^ a b Conradis, Brandon (2020-03-15). "Illinois, Ohio closing all bars, restaurants in response to coronavirus". TheHill. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  11. ^ "37 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio; 361 under investigation". WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports. 2020-03-15. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  12. ^ "Coronavirus: Governor orders Ohio bars, restaurants to shut down". The Columbus Dispatch. March 15, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  13. ^ Tobias, Andrew (15 March 2020). "Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to expand unemployment to cover workers displaced by coronavirus,". Cleveland OH: AdvanceOhio.
  14. ^ a b Byrnes, Jesse (2020-03-12). "Ohio health official estimates 100,000 people in state have coronavirus". TheHill. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  15. ^ Ross, Chuck (2020-03-14). "Ohio Governor's Alarming Claim About the Number of Coronavirus Cases Was Based on a 'Guesstimate'". The Minnesota Sun. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  16. ^ "100,000 infected in Ohio and cases could DOUBLE every six days, virus chief fears". The US Sun. 2020-03-13. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  17. ^ "Coronavirus: Health director orders polls closed for primary election, citing emergency". WHIO-TV. March 17, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  18. ^ Goulding, Gage (April 5, 2020). "Ohio residents will cast their vote in the primary election with an absentee ballot". WTOV-TV. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Amy Acton on Ohio Channel 50:40". Ohio Channel. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Inside Obama's Surging Net-Roots Campaign". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
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