HOMAGE produced this t-shirt to honor Dr. Amy Acton and her colleagues at the Ohio Department of Health.

Most public health workers are used to working behind the scenes, and that’s fine with them, because their focus is serving their communities. Most of the time, they are outside the public’s view, not on stage, not in the headlines. But COVID-19 has changed that.

In communities across the country, many people are now meeting their state and local health commissioners for the first time. Concerned citizens are watching these officials’ daily briefings, subscribing to their Twitter accounts, and reading their insights and advice in newspapers and online. And many are giving kudos to these leaders for their straightforward and reassuring approach.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, is not the only official who’s gained attention for her leadership during the COVID-19 outbreak, but she’s the first to have a Facebook fan club and a t-shirt made in her honor. HOMAGE, a clothing company based in Columbus, created its “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” t-shirt “as a tribute to Dr. Acton and all of those working day and night to keep us healthy.” Proceeds from the shirt’s sales benefit Huckleberry House, which supports youth at risk of violence, neglect, poverty, and homelessness.

The company explained: “We’re thinking of the best ways we can all support each other through the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Acton has emerged as a voice of reason and a beacon of light for those of us looking for ways to act.”

Nancy Murphy, MSHC, founder of CSR Communications, who advises a number of health clients on leadership and communications, said, “Every American knows what the doctors and nurses do to treat diseases, but most have no idea what public health is or how public health professionals (including some doctors and nurses) keep us safe and healthy every day. Although public health professionals impact nearly every aspect of our lives, their work often goes unnoticed, underfunded, and uncelebrated.”

Murphy, a native Ohiohan who now lives in the Washington, DC, area, has been fascinated by the star quality Dr. Acton has achieved. “Even my normally skeptical mother tunes in to Dr. Amy’s press conferences every day and quotes her guidance word for word to my sisters and me,” she said. “Her presence, professionalism, and clarity are just what we need in these uncertain times.”

Read “Amy Acton is Calming Leader in Coronavirus Crisis.”

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