Governor J.B. Pritzker declared today as Dr. Ezike Day as the state’s top doctor is stepping down later this month.
Pritzker announced today that the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike is leaving the agency after three years of service.
Pritzker congratulated Ezike for outstanding service and tenure during a press conference this afternoon. The Governor issued a proclamation establishing today, March 1, 2022, as #DrEzikeDay.
Pritzker said Ezike did not run for office as he did, yet she was thrust into the public spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “there is something particularly heroic about the service of an extraordinary individual who did not seek greatness but found it anyway.”
“It is a change that I am loathe to accept, but perhaps she can finally get a good night’s sleep, and precious time with her husband and her four kids, and boy it is well deserved. I have the utmost faith that Dr. Ezike’s next journey will bring more good to the world, as has been the hallmark of every step of her career.
She will go down in the Illinois history books as a woman who changed our state for the better. She saved lives, many many thousands of lives.”
Dr. Ezike was emotional while speaking today as she recounted answering Pritzker’s call to offer her the position of IDPH Director in December of 2019, and the many trials her department has faced over the last three years.
“IDPH consists of a team of unsung heroes that by nature and definition works behind the scenes. Who’s committed to public health, and that commitment gave me strength every day. Of course, my main battery charger came from my deep-seated faith, and I absolutely received the renewing strength that people all across Illinois sent me through their prayers that also covered me.
All of the people and all of their stories I will carry always in my heart. I acknowledge and mourn with the families of all the lives lost, not just to Covid, but to gun violence, to suicide, to drug overdose, to racism, to cancer, and all the other diseases and ills that public health officials and all of our partners work tirelessly to curb.”
Amaal Tokars, PhD., who is currently the Assistant Director of IDPH will serve as interim director while a nationwide search is conducted to find a permanent replacement. Dr. Ezike’s last day will be March 14, 2022.