Health official tears up delivering latest COVID-19 numbers in emotional briefing

ABC News Corona Virus Health and Science

Illinois’ top doctor pleaded with residents to “fight the fatigue.”

“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 began Friday’s COVID-19 briefing.

While acknowledging the sacrifices she has asked people to make, Ezike noted that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase in the state.

“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.”

PHOTO: Illinois Department of Public Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike teared up as she delivered the state's latest COVID-19 update.

Illinois Department of Public Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike teared up as she delivered the state’s latest COVID-19 update.

Her voice wavering, she reported there were 3,874 new cases on Thursday, for a total of 364,033 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.

The official then paused and stepped away from the podium to gather herself, before reporting that there were 2,498 people hospitalized overnight with COVID-19, including 511 in the intensive care unit and 197 on ventilators. Hospitalizations reached a record on Thursday, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

“My message to you is to stay strong,” Ezike said. “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.”

She pleaded with residents to “fight the fatigue” and continue to social distance, diligently wear a mask and reconsider large, in-person gatherings.

“This is what we’ll have to do to bring the spread down in our community,” Ezike 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.”

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    Watch live: New Jersey Governor Murphy gives briefing as state battles new rise in COVID-19 cases

    New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is holding a COVID-19 briefing Thursday after the state reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for four days straight. It’s no longer just a few hotspot counties causing the virus to spread — the problem is now widespread in the state, CBS New York reported.

    Murphy said Wednesday he was self-quarantining out of an abundance caution because a senior member of his staff tested positive for the virus. He stressed he had no symptoms and has tested negative twice this week, including on Wednesday. 


    How to watch Murphy’s COVID-19 briefing today

    • What: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy gives briefing on COVID-19 
    • Date: Thursday, October 22, 2020 
    • Time: 1 p.m. ET
    • Location: New Jersey 
    • Online stream: Live on CBSN New York in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device 

    Hospitalizations are increasing in the state and more schools are delaying reopenings.  

    “This is not something we didn’t expect. We expected a second wave to happen in the fall. But the question is how bad it gets. That means peak, and how quickly we get to that peak,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital, Newark.

    Dr. Elnahal said this week the hospital was already nearly at capacity with non-COVID patients. Now virus-related hospitalizations are increasing again.

    “Signs are pointing that this is about to get worse,” Dr. Elnahal said. “When you start to hit levels of 3 or 4% positivity, you can expect even more admissions. And most concerningly… we did have one COVID-19 death last week for the first time in many weeks.”

    “The other patients will have to delay their care even more,” Dr. Elnahal added.

    State health officials say it’s mostly indoor gatherings and parties contributing to the spike, not schools or businesses. Murphy says that makes it harder to contain.

    “As far as we can tell, these are mostly gatherings that are beyond our ability to effectively regulate or easily enforce compliance,” he said.

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