Meet the Woman Fighting to Flatten the Coronavirus Curve in Ohio
TIME highlights Dr. Amy Acton
The Director of Ohio’s Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, is no stranger to adversity. She was once abused by one of her mother’s partners, she bounced around to about 18 different living arrangements in her youth and she even spent one winter living in a tent. But she says her familiarity with disarray positioned her to be ready for a different catastrophe: the gravest pandemic the United States has seen in over 100 years.
“I think because of the childhood I had,” she tells TIME via video chat from the Ohio Statehouse, “that I’m at my best during a crisis.”
Her collective calm amid calamity has played out in front of the Buckeye State and the nation. Before the CDC began issuing nationwide and universal social distancing guidelines, the state health official was working with her Columbus city counterparts to limit the potential for the spread of disease at an annual fitness festival that was expected to draw a couple hundred thousand visitors and at least 22,000 athletes from 80 different countries. With Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and Acton at the helm, Ohio became the first state to shut down all public schools for an extended period of time on March 12. And just five days later, Acton issued a decree cancelling “non-essential or elective surgeries and procedures” that require personal protective equipment—even before New York, America’s epicenter of the virus, announced it was pausing elective procedures.
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