COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Mike DeWine’s pick for Ohio’s next Health Department director withdrew her name Thursday night, just hours after DeWine announced she’d be the successor to the state’s previous director who resigned abruptly in June.
Dr. Joan Duwve withdrew her name from consideration for the position for personal reasons, DeWine’s office said in a tweet Thursday night.
The Republican governor had announced earlier Thursday that Duwve would be the state’s new health director, saying she has extensive public health experience and shares his commitment to children’s issues and many other public health issues.
The state will continue its search for a full-time replacement to Dr. Amy Acton, who resigned amidst a torrent of conservative criticism over her coronavirus public health orders, including armed protesters outside her suburban Columbus house.
Duwve, from North Olmsted in suburban Cleveland, is a public health director for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. She worked previously as chief medical officer with the Indiana Department of Health and medical director for the department’s Division of Public Health and Preparedness.
She graduated from Ohio State, received a public health master’s from the University of Michigan and her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Messages to Duwve’s office and South Carolina health officials seeking comment weren’t immediately answered Thursday night.
Acton was praised early on for her work to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and with her guidance, the Republican DeWine took some of the most aggressive action nationally early in the pandemic.
But DeWine, who instituted a statewide mask order in July, has received plenty of his own criticism from conservatives who believe his actions have gone too far — such as a ban on liquor sales after 10 p.m. Fellow Republicans in the House and Senate have pushed multiple measures to limit the ability of the state health director to issue public health orders.
The Ohio Health Department reported more than 134,000 probable and confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday, including 4,354 deaths. The state’s one-day tally of 1,121 is above the 21-day average of 1,052, with many new cases blamed on the return of students to college campuses and in some cases gathering in impermissibly large groups with no social distancing or mask wearing.