COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - A state representative from Greater Cincinnati called for the sacking of Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio's top health official -- a move highlighting growing dissent between Republican Gov. Mike Dewine and some Republicans in the legislature.
In an interview with The Enquirer, Mason's Rep. Paul Zeltwanger criticized Acton for what he saw as a failure to provide accurate information to the public and react to data that contradicted state-backed lockdown measures.
Zeltwanger, a real estate development company owner, said the global data on the coronavirus is “becoming clear,” and in his view, the economic shutdowns were an overreaction.
For example, he cited the early statistics provided by Acton such as the estimate Ohio would experience a surge in cases of as many as 10,000 a day as inaccurate. As of today, Ohio has recorded roughly 33,500 cases - though testing remains limited and the state is just coming out of two months of enforced distancing.
“When you miss things by that far in the non-government world -- yeah, there’s accountability for that,” Zeltwanger said.
On Monday Zeltwanger quoted a tweet by Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, in which Cross called for Acton to resign and for DeWine to appoint a new health director who will “follow their own orders.” The tweet shared a video from early March of Director Amy Acton speaking at a crowded table without a mask at the Cleveland.com office, implying she was violating her own social distancing rules. The video was from March 3, before Ohio had its first recorded case or any announced restrictions.
“I second your second opinion,” Zeltwanger said in his quoted reply to Cross.
Dan Tierney, DeWine's spokesman, told The Enquirer the governor has no intention of removing Acton.
In his interview with The Enquirer, Zeltwanger also criticized DeWine, who he said has failed to release important statistics such as viral infectiousness rates and nursing home deaths and also failed to help Ohioans struggling to navigate the state’s clunky unemployment system.
“He’s made the comment ‘the buck stops here,’ but you need to lead now,” Zeltwanger said.
Zeltwanger, who heads up the Ohio House 2020 Economic Recovery Task Force, has been critical of DeWine and his approach to combating the coronavirus.
Zeltwanger has shared the widely debunked “Plandemic” video, which erroneously speculates a shadowy cabal is behind the creation and outbreak of COVID-19.
He also praised Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, for standing up against government restrictions on religious services, which DeWine never imposed.
Neither the ODH or the spokesperson for DeWine responded for comment by press time.