Illinois health director Dr. Ezike to resign March 14

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:21 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday that Dr. Ngozi Ezike will leave the Illinois Department of Public Health on March 14. He also issued a proclamation recognizing March 1, 2022 as Dr. Ezike Day.

Ezike appeared for the first time to talk about COVID-19 with reporters on January 24, 2020. Her press conference debut took place in Springfield as IDPH reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19.

Pritzker said Tuesday that Ezike has joined him at more than 160 COVID-19 press conferences over the past two years.

“I am not putting it lightly when I say that she has had one of the hardest jobs in the world,” Pritzker said. “There is something particularly heroic about the service of an extraordinary individual who did not seek greatness but found it anyway.”

Ezike said she doesn’t have plans for a new role right now, but she wants to focus on helping IDPH transition over the next few weeks. The married mother of four also plans to spend much more time with her family.

Through an emotional speech, Ezike said it was an honor to share information with the public and help create policy during her time as director.

“I’m glad that I served as a role model to young girls, girls of color, little Black girls, that they can be leaders in any field,” Ezike said. “And I’m proud to show our young boys as well, the future men of our society, examples of women in leadership.”

IDPH Assistant Director Dr. Amaal Tokars will serve as interim director until the Pritzker administration finds a permanent replacement.

“Amaal Tokaars has been an instrumental senior member of Dr. Ezike’s leadership team, and the people of Illinois will be lucky to have her watching out for them,” Pritzker said.

Ezike will leave the leadership role as Illinois returns to a sense of normalcy with the indoor mask mandate lifted for most settings. The key COVID-19 metrics also continue to move in the right direction for the state.

“I think there’s a lull in COVID cases and hospitalizations. That’s a great thing,” Ezike said. “I’m hoping that with all of the vaccinations and the therapeutics that are available that we will have a quiet spring. Spring and the summer have typically been stable times, so this is my chance. This is my chance.”

IDPH officials reported 1,841 new confirmed and probable cases and 40 deaths on Tuesday. More than 62,700 tests were conducted over the last 24 hours and the 7-day rolling positivity rate is 1.8%. The department also reported 958 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 complications. One hundred seventy-nine people are in the ICU and 85 are on ventilators.

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