McCloud Takes Over as Health Director Amid Record COVID-19 Cases

Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine named Stephanie McCloud as the new director of the Ohio Department of Health. She will take over as the top official in the state’s coronavirus response amid a record surge of coronavirus cases.

“Now is the time to bring in reinforcement to the team to go on the offense and to put more players frankly out on the field especially as we prepare for the arrival and distribution of a vaccine,” DeWine said Thursday.

McCloud, who is the CEO of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, fills a role that has been vacant, and a challenge for DeWine to fill, since the previous health director, Dr. Amy Acton, departed in June following harassment.

When the state began implementing orders to close down businesses during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, armed demonstrators showed up at Acton’s house to protest the orders. In September, DeWine appointed Dr. Joan Duwve to fill the vacancy, but she withdrew just hours later due to concern her family would face similar harassment as Acton.

DeWine praised her management and administrative expertise, calling her a great “collaborator.”

McCloud said she is honored to take on the role and looks forward to stepping up to the challenges the pandemic presents.

“I look forward to joining the pandemic team already on the field. Those folks are working tirelessly and I look forward to helping them in any way I can,” she said. “There is no doubt we are heading into a tough chapter.”

Lance Himes has been the interim director since Acton left. DeWine said Himes will stay on with the department in a new role as senior deputy.

DeWine announced Thursday two other appointments to the department: A new chief medical officer, Bruce Vanderhoff, who is currently the chief medical officer at Ohio Health, and a new chief of staff, Kathleen Madden, assistant director for the the Ohio Office of Budget and Management.

With record COVID-19 cases numbers and hospitalizations in Ohio, Democrats were becoming increasingly critical of DeWine for not having a health director. Earlier this week, Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, along with other top Democrats, released a statement attacking DeWine for the vacancy of the position.

“Instead of working to appoint a health director and creating a statewide response to this latest COVID-19 surge, he’s writing open letters to Ohioans and calling on local leaders to build a patchwork defense to this pandemic. This is a dereliction of duty,” the statement said.

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