134. Dr. Amy Acton on Loss, Learning, and Finding Meaning in the Pandemic
Despite the immense loss and often nasty politics that set in a few months into Ohio’s pandemic response, former Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton insists that there was far more love than hate in those early months. Despite the challenges we face, she wants Ohioans to reflect on how much they accomplished together and think about what the means for the state moving forward.
On Episode 134 of Prognosis Ohio, more than three years after she stepped down after leading Ohio’s COVID-19 response in 2020, Acton joins Prognosis Ohio to talk with Dan Skinner about what perspective and insight a few years of processing the experience have given her. Topics in the state of public health preparedness in Ohio, and what Ohio needs to do to start not only learning important lessons from our state’s collective experience with COVID, but to grieve. Acton also talks poignantly about the state of our democratic systems and the relationship between the malignant forces that stormed the U.S. Capitol in 2021 and the divisiveness and threats of violence that set in in Ohio in response to public health measures. Through all of this, Acton offers a number of reasons to have some hope. It’s an episode you won’t want to miss.
Links, Name Checks, and miscellany:
· Read Dr. Acton’s Wikipedia entry here.
· Read about Acton’s new project, with WKYC, “Health, Hope, and Healing.”
· Acton mentions the book to which she and Dan both contributed, Ohio Under COVID. You can read it for free. Acton sat for an interview that became the Afterword. While Dan’s chapter (with Kathryn Poe) opens the book with a discussion of the gender politics of Acton’s time as the state’s health director.
· Acton mentioned a “pandemic playbook” created by the George W. Bush administration. You can read about it in this Politico article.
· Acton mentions a New Yorker piece for which she did interviews in 2019. You can read it here.
· Dan mentions his conversation, from 2021, with Rick Hodges, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, who led the states response to the Ebola threat.
· Acton mentions Josh Sharfstein’s important book, The Public Health Crisis Survival Guide, which includes a discussion of crisis communication in public health.
· Listeners should also listen to our recent episode with Minority Leader Rep. Allison Russo, who has also been calling for a statewide study of Ohio’s COVID response.
· Visit our archive of 35 Prognosis Ohio episodes addressing COVID-19 in some manner.
· Acton mentions a COVID memorial in Great Seal State Park, in Chillicothe.
Hosted and produced by Dan Skinner. Audio engineering by Mike Foley. Video engineering by Columbus City Schools. Social media and production support by Nathaniel Powell. Prognosis Ohio is a member of the WCBE Podcast Experience and the Health Podcast Network. Prognosis Ohio is a production of Prognosis Ohio, LLC.