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Ohio Lawmaker Urges Dewine to Appoint Permanent Health Director

Rep. Tavia Galonski, Gov. Mike DeWine
ohiohouse.gov; The Ohio Channel
As coronavirus cases spike in Ohio, Rep. Tavia Galonski says the state needs to replace former Health Director Amy Acton with a public health official.

A state legislator from Akron says Ohio needs a permanent public health director. Rep. Tavia Galonski said surging coronavirus cases highlight the urgency of the situation.

Ohio has been without a permanent public health director sinceDr. Amy Acton stepped down June 11. In September, Gov. Mike DeWine offered the job to South Carolina’s public health director who turned it down, in part because of the harassment she heard Acton’s family endured.

Galonski says DeWine needs to act on the position because the state needs a health leader, especially as COVID-19 cases hit new records.

The state reported Thursday a record-breaking 2,425 new coronavirus cases within 24-hours.

leadership on the state level

“Whoever the health director is going to be—you need a public health official. Real leadership means that you hire real people and real scientists to make the decisions about our health," Galonski said.

She points out that interim director Lance Himes does not have a medical degree. He has served as the state health department’s longtime general counsel.

She says Acton is difficult to replace.

Acton leading into future
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton holds up a mask as she gives an update about the state's response to coronavirus, on Feb. 27, 2020 in Cleveland.

“Some people felt like she scared us, but what she was really trying to do was lead us to a future that didn’t have to look like this one,” Galonski said.

Galonski says partisan politics has no role in the pandemic.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Ohio has recorded 190,436 total coronavirus cases, as well as 17,682 hospitalizations and 5,161 deaths related to COVID-19.

Connor Steffen is a junior at Kent State studying journalism. Connor is a member of TV2 News, Kent State's student-run television station, where he serves as the executive producer for all news operations. He also anchors, reports and produces for the station. After graduation, Connor hopes to work as a reporter at a local news station.