COLUMBUS — Not long after the first of the year Ohio Health Director Amy Acton recalled first hearing of COVID-19 while on a conference call with the Centers for Disease Control when they brought on as a quest a global health epidemiologist.
"I could just tell in her voice when she was describing what was happening in China," Acton said. "This is someone who was very experienced who had seen a lot and there was just something about it that stuck with me."
"That's sort of when it began for me," said Acton. "And from that point on we payed close attention."
As she watched the scenes unfold overseas as the situation escalated she looked at March on her calendar. "We had actually scheduled to do a pandemic flu tabletop exercise which is where we sort of practice and get all of the agencies and the cabinet together and I asked [the governor's] team, his leadership team and said I think we should move this up," she said. "And we ended up doing it in early to mid February."
Looking ahead she knows the road ahead won't be easy but if the state continues what was started several weeks ago it will be worth it.
"We've been blessed in Ohio to have this time because of all of the actions Ohioans have taken we have slowed down the spread here that allowed precious time for hospitals or first responders or nursing homes, for all of us to get ready," she said.
"The best guess is that it will slowly come upon us, each day will be worse as you can see already around the country the numbers get worse each day. The peak will last awhile because people will be in the hospital for a long time," she said. "And no one knows for sure how bad that peak will be or how long it will last but it will go down."
"We really don't know what June will look like, I have a feeling what May will look like in this country it will be more of what we're seeing in New York but I think other things need to be in place for us to sound the all clear."
Asked what this will mean beyond summer heading into fall Acton said they're focused on now.
"I too hope that we will be enjoying football this fall and a lot of other activities that we already are pining for and we don't know for sure anything can happen, we might discover an anti-viral that works for instance and have more treatments.
"We do know that there's a possibility that it will surge again but we don't know that for certain yet. I think I hold out hope that if we really do this well on the front end it gives us a much greater chance of being able to manage it so if we want football the things we're doing now, the sacrifices we're making, will make that more likely possible."