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Coping with COVID: Routine record-breaking and an emotional press briefing moment

Franciscan Health announces new visitor restrictions as COVID-19 numbers spike in the area. The experts who predicted the fall COVID-19 surge would be worse than spring apparently were right when it comes to case counts. Records have been set and broken a number of times in recent weeks. Plus, the emotional impact of the continuing pandemic was on display Friday as Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, teared up while giving her presentation at a press briefing. 

Franciscan Health sets visitor restrictions. The health care system announced last week that new visitor restrictions would go into effect Monday as a precaution against the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  

Routinely breaking records. The fall COVID-19 surge in Illinois is making a habit of breaking daily case records. The spring case peak was 4,014 cases on May 12. That record stood until Oct. 15, when state health officials reported 4,015 new cases. That record was broken the next day, with 4,554 new cases. 

That record stood for less than a week, broken by the 4,942 cases on Oct. 22. Two days later, a new record was set, 6,161 new cases.


The surge is setting records nationwide, too, with 83,757 cases reported Friday by Johns Hopkins University, the most since the pandemic began.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, Homewood had recorded 531 cases since the pandemic began, and Flossmoor had 240 cases. Homewood lost another resident, bringing the total number of deaths due to the virus to 35, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. 

Emotional moment. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, has presented case numbers, epidemiological information and advice for combating the spread of COVID-19 at daily and weekly press briefings since the pandemic began. On Friday, she had to pause during her presentation as her voice choked with emotion after noting the number of deaths in the state, 9,418, since the pandemic began. 

“These are people who started with us in 2020 and won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table,” she said. While providing more numbers she paused, turned from the podium and took a minute to regain her composure. 

Ezike’s remarks before and after her pause focused on urging state residents to fight “pandemic fatigue” and adhere to the recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus. 

“I’m feeling it and living it myself. I don’t get to live in some COVID-free bubble exempt from all the pain and the tragedy of this pandemic,” she said. “I understand how pandemic fatigue is striking everyone. It’s real. People are tired of not seeing their families. They are tired of postponing their weddings and other life celebrations. Trying to work from home while also trying to manage kids learning remotely is a challenge.”

She compared the task to a marathon that does not have a clear finish line.

“My message to you is to stay strong. I’m asking you to fight the fatigue. Fight the urge to give up on social distancing. Fight for your kids to have a safe and healthy opportunity to have in-person learning in school with teachers who are trained to teach them in the classroom. Fight to have safe, healthy environments at which we can work so businesses can remain open so our economies can start to thrive again.”

“This does mean wearing your mask any time you’re around people. This means reconsidering that large gathering, that large social event. It means thinking about wearing masks in your own home when you’re with other people outside your own household. This is what we’ll have to do to bring down the spread in our community. Let’s please work together. Let’s please think beyond ourselves and think about the people we could unknowingly infect.”

PPE by the numbers. Cook County Emergency Management and Regional Security reports it has distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources to first responders and communities throughout Cook County.


  • 549,655 N95 masks.
  • 594,975 surgical masks.
  • 1,180,350 gloves.
  • 25,190 protective gowns.
  • 17,603  pairs of eye protection.
  • 37,913 Face Shields.
  • 4,529 Tyvek/Tychem suits (or other protective coveralls).
  • 350 infection control kits.
  • 5,475 head covers.
  • 23,220 shoe or boot covers.

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