Dr. Amy Acton says we have to stay ahead of the curve as we live with COVID-19 for at least 18 months

Posted at 4:05 PM, Apr 21, 2020

CLEVELAND — While Ohio has stayed plateaued on the curve of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said it not just about flattening it but staying ahead of it as she warned everyone will live with this virus for at least 18 months, which is why she says the state is building an expansive recovery network.

She is confident Ohioans can withstand what she calls a war, but it’s going to take a daily battle to continue protective measures.

“This is a war. It has been a silent enemy all along. A pandemic does more than kill people - it disrupts civil society and supply chains. It can turn us against each other,” she said.

The question Acton said many are asking is how we do a little more, all the time, without creating too big of a risk that puts the state into another lockdown mode.

As the state makes a gradual opening on May 1, Acton said to get out of this, we have to slowly move the "dimmer switch" by doing the lowest risk things first, watch how the state deals with the spread of infection, then turn the dial a little more.

“So we’ve got our dimmer switch planning, and we’ve got our firefighter, putting out fires plan,” Acton said. “And that is the dance, and the plan that the governor’s team is working on. Do I wish we could just hand you a plan every day. There was no playbook for this. The whole world is figuring out this equation of the dimmer switch, and the firefight put out. And I want you to know that Ohio is on the front edge of that."

Acton said there are five things needed to work our way out of a pandemic, including social distancing, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine and treatment.

Acton also said once the state reopens, she expects cases to increase.

Ohio Gov. DeWine said no one can look at May 1 as when we get back to normal, calling it a "high wiring act" of moving forward but doing it in a safe way.

"Once you start opening things up the contact increases. The key here is to do it in a way that minimizes, as much as humanly possible, risk," DeWine said.

In the weeks and months to come, Acton said believes Ohioans have the resilience for the long road ahead.

"I’m very optimistic that we have the grit and resiliency to weather a war, especially given the outstanding leadership we have," Acton said.

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