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‘We can't give up.’ Dr. Amy Acton says Ohioans need to help each other in fight against COVID-19 like we did in the beginning

Dr. Acton’s comments come as she was honored as one of UC Health’s 2021 MLK Humanitarian Awards.

CINCINNATI — Although she’s no longer leading the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton remains focused on asking Ohioans to continue their fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“The overwhelming experience I had, especially in the beginning, is people really coming together and wanting to help each other through,” Dr. Acton said in a video posted Monday by UC Health. “I’m telling you, we need that again. We really have lives to save yet. It is not too late. We really have it within our power to help one another through the next few months, especially as our hospitals are being overwhelmed.”

Her comments come as Dr. Acton was honored as one of UC Health’s 2021 MLK Humanitarian Award recipients. UC Health officials say she was selected as a winner “due to her courageous leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her calm and compassionate nature helped reassure Ohioans, while her bold and fearless leadership helped save lives.”

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The awards are selected each year to recognize those who demonstrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit and legacy. UC Health said this year’s theme -- Activism in Healthcare -- celebrates those who embody this Dr. King quote: “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Other recipients of the 2021 MLK Humanitarian Awards include:

  • Jiahao Guo, Founder & Executive Director of the Coronavirus Relief Project
  • Renee Mahaffey Harris, President & CEO, The Health Gap

In her comments after receiving the award, Dr. Acton also said it was “an honor of a lifetime” having the privilege to help Ohioans as the state’s health director.

“We can’t give up. I have a lot of hope yet that we’re going to dig a little deeper.”

Dr. Acton resigned as director of the Ohio Department of Health in June. She spoke out for the first time months later by telling The New Yorker that Joe Biden needs to take swift action to battle coronavirus if he were to win the election.

“We cannot wait two and a half months to start leading a messaging,” she's quoted in the article.

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