Illinois’ top health official broke down as she announced the coronavirus death toll in the Prairie State.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois’ Public Health Director, on Friday first started sniffing loudly as she announced an extra 31 deaths, taking the state-wide total to 9,418 people who had succumbed to the pandemic.
“These are people who started with us in 2020 and won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table,” Ezike said, struggling to also announce an extra 3,874 confirmed cases for a total of 36,433.
“Excuse me, please,” she finally said — wiping tears from her eyes as she turned her back to the camera during the live-streamed briefing.
She paused for almost 40 seconds as others brought out tissues to help her compose herself, finally turning back around, saying “I’m sorry” and taking a deep breath before continuing her remarks.
She had noted the “mental, social and emotional toll” and “all the pain and all the tragedy from this pandemic.”
“I’m feeling it and living it myself,” she said, telling residents to “fight the urge to give up on social distancing.”
“The way we work, the way we live, the way we play has all changed, and the harsh reality is that the sacrifices that we’ve made, and continue to make, do not have a future expiration date,” she conceded.
“This is a difficult race when you can’t actually see the end point,” Ezike said, still pausing at times and wiping her eyes and nose.