The top health official in Illinois broke down in tears as she announced the state’s latest coronavirus numbers and pleaded with residents to remain vigilant in their efforts to slow the pandemic.
‘I want to say happy Friday, but I understand the mental, the social and the emotional toll that this pandemic continues to have on people,’ Illinois Department of Public Health Department Director Dr Ngozi Ezike said at the top of Friday’s virus briefing, her voice quaking with emotion.
‘Yesterday we lost an additional 31 lives, for a total of 9,418 deaths,’ she said.
‘These are people who started with us in 2020 and won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table.
‘To date, we are reporting 3,874 new cases, for a total of 364,033 confirmed cases, since the start of this pandemic.’
Ezike then excused herself and turned away from the podium to wipe away tears before continuing her remarks.
The emotional briefing came as coronavirus infections are surging in nearly 80 percent of US states and territories and the nation set a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 8,575,069 as of Saturday evening.
Illinois Department of Public Health Department Director Dr Ngozi Ezike broke down in tears as she announced the state’s latest coronavirus numbers during an emotional briefing on Friday
‘Yesterday we lost an additional 31 lives, for a total of 9,418 deaths. These are people who started with us in 2020 and won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table,’ Ezike said during Friday’s briefing, her voice quaking with emotion. Midway through her report, Egize turned away from the podium to wipe away tears
In Illinois, Ezike said on Friday that 2,498 coronavirus patients were hospitalized overnight, including 511 in intensive care and 197 on ventilators.
After delivering the state’s grim tally, Ezike said that her position as health director does not keep her in ‘some Covid free bubble exempt from all the pain and the tragedy of this pandemic’.
‘I understand how pandemic fatigue is striking everyone. It’s real,’ she said.
‘People are tired of not seeing their families. They’re tired of postponing the weddings and the other life celebrations. Trying to work from home while also trying to manage kids learning remotely is a challenge.’
‘My message to you is to stay strong,’ she continued. ‘I’ve never run a marathon, but I have the utmost regard for those who’ve been able to train and plan and finish a marathon.
‘But this is a difficult race when you can’t actually see the endpoint and I’m sorry that that’s the message I have for you.’
Ezike urged residents to ‘fight the fatigue’ and continue wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding large in-person gatherings.
‘This is what we’ll have to do to bring the spread down in our community,’ she said. ‘When we bring the spread down in our community, kids can go to school safely, people can go to work safely, activities, [and] family celebrations can be celebrations, instead of super-spreader events that result in disease and death.’
In a message to people who may doubt the latest statistics, Ezike stressed that the state is in fact seeing a new surge in cases, hospitalizations and death.
‘If you’re tired of hearing it from me, please just ask one of your local physicians in ‘the area,’ she said. ‘They will tell you what they are seeing in their hospitals.’
The day after the briefing, Illinois recorded its highest single-day spike in new cases since the start of the pandemic with 6,161 on Saturday – bringing the state’s total to 370,194.
There were also 63 new deaths reported Saturday, for a total of 9,481 to date.
Similarly troubling trends have emerged across the US in recent days, as 16 states hit one-day records for new infections on Friday.
The emotional briefing came as the US set a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases on Friday. As of Sunday, the nationwide total stands at 8,575,069
Weekly coronavirus cases are on the rise in 79 percent of US states and territories, with the steepest increases in the Mountain West, including North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Wisconsin (dark blue), the latest CDC data reveal
On Friday the CDC announced that 79 percent of US jurisdictions are reporting increases in daily cases, with the highest spikes seen in the Mountain West.
The US is now reporting an average of more than 60,000 new cases a day, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health experts have not pinpointed the reason for the rise but have cited such factors as colder temperatures driving people inside, fatigue with COVID-19 precautions and students returning to schools and colleges.
The latest estimate by the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation also reflects fears that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the virus is more likely to spread.
‘We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge,’ said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.
The number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95 percent of Americans would cover their faces, the IHME said, echoing a recommendation by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Health Secretary Alex Azar attributed the increase in cases nationwide to the behavior of individuals, saying household gatherings have become a ‘major vector of disease spread.’
Asked about an assertion by President Donald Trump during Thursday night’s presidential debate that the United States is ’rounding the turn’ on the pandemic, Azar told CNN that Trump was trying to provide hope to Americans waiting for a vaccine.
Dr Fauci expressed optimism about vaccine trials in a CNN interview last week, saying that the results ‘look promising.
‘Hopefully by the time we get to the end of November, the beginning of December we will have shown that we have at least one or two – and maybe more but at least two – vaccines that are safe and effective,’ Fauci said.
Sixteen states hit one-day records for new infections on Friday
On Thursday there were 916 reported fatalities in the US, a day after the country recorded over 1,200 new deaths for the first time since August
On Saturday there were 845 reported fatalities in the US, three days after the country recorded over 1,200 new deaths for the first time since August.
Eighteen states have reported their highest daily numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the pandemic started and on Friday, the number of COVID-19 patients in US hospitals climbed to a two-month high.
There are now more than 41,000 hospitalized patients with coronavirus across the country, up 34 percent from October 1, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
North Dakota, with 887 new cases on both Thursday and Friday, remains the hardest-hit state, based on new cases per capita, followed by South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.
In Tennessee, hospitals in Nashville said they have experienced a 40 percent increase in patients admitted for COVID-19.
Dr Jeff Pothof, an emergency medicine physician at University of Wisconsin Health in Madison, expressed worry about a lack of compliance with public health measures in the state, where some groups have challenged Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ COVID-19 restrictions in court.
The Northeast remains the one region of the county without a significant surge in cases, but infections are trending higher.