Dr. Ngozi Ezikewho helped guide the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreakwill leave her post as Illinois' top public health official in mid-March, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Ezike joined the administration in early 2019 as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Her presence greatly increased as she appeared with Gov. JB Pritzker at his daily briefings during the early days of the pandemic.
"I ran for office; she did not. But throughout the crisis she has stood by me every step of the way," Pritzker said March 1 during a news conference at Rush University Medical Center. "I am not putting it lightly when I say that she has had one of the hardest jobs in the world."
Ezike wiped away tears as Pritzker designated March 1 "Dr. Ngozi Ezike Day." She said, "I am so blessed to have been able to bring some measure of comfort to Illinoisans, to quiet some of the chaos and to infuse some calm. I'm proud to be an example that empathy and strength can exist in the same body and in the same breath."
Ezike's assistant director, Amaal Tokars, will take over as interim director.