The scale of the Covid-19 pandemic is exposing the battle scars of the country's most hardened public health officials.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike began to cry and paused her remarks — her back to the podium — during a Friday briefing in which she reported new coronavirus deaths and thousands of additional cases.
"Since 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."
Her voice shaky, she added, "To date, we are reporting 3,874 new cases, for a total of 364,033 confirmed cases, since the start of this pandemic. Excuse me, please."
She wiped a tear with her bare hand and turned away from the podium to compose herself. A man in a mask walked over with a box of tissues. She wiped her eyes and returned to the microphone.
"I'm sorry," Ezike said, before resuming the grim tally, including 2,498 coronavirus patients in hospitals overnight — 511 in intensive care and 197 on ventilators.