The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 364,033, with 9,418 deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
Over a 24-hour period, officials said the state processed 82,256 specimens for a total of 7,113,338. The seven-day positivity rate from Oct. 15 - 21 is 5.6%, the first time it has dropped since Oct. 4.
WATCH: Gov. Pritzker's COVID-19 update: October 23, 2020
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois' top doctor, broke down during Friday's daily briefing as she was giving some of the daily numbers.
"Today, we are reporting 3,874 new cases for a total of 364,033 confirmed cases since the start of this pandemic," she said haltingly, before breaking down. "Excuse me, please."
Dr. Ezike remained with her back towards the podium as a staffer left to get a box of tissues for her. The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health took a moment to compose herself, then continued her briefing, pleading for residents of the state to fight the pandemic fatigue that leads to looser personal restrictions and the surge in COVID-19 cases the state is now seeing.
"My message to you is to stay strong," she tearfully said. "I've never run a marathon but I have the utmost respect for those who have been able to train, plan and finish a marathon, but this is a difficult race when you can't actually see the endpoint."
WATCH: IL top doctor breaks down when announcing state's COVID-19 count
She said she shares the overwhelming mental, social and emotional toll of the pandemic, just like many others in our country.
"I'm feeling it and living it myself," she said. "I don't get to live in some COVID-free bubble, exempt from the pain and tragedy of the pandemic."
As of Thursday night, 2,498 people were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19, with 511 in the ICU and 197 on ventilators.
"The harsh reality is that the sacrifices we've made, and that we continue to make, do not have a future expiration date," Ezike added.
She also appealed to Illinoisans to stay strong and remember that the actual enemy we're facing is a virus, not each other.
"Putting our people through this again, it's unfortunate. And I'm desperate to find the message that will work," she said. "I'm looking for someone to tell me what the message is so that we can do what it takes to turn this around. The virus has caused this, and instead of pitting one group against another, we need to get that right and fight against the virus."
ABC7 Eyewitness News asked her, in the midst of this new wave, what the most difficult part is for her.
"If you're talking about COVID fatigue from having to keep wearing a mask, think about the COVID fatigue for healthcare workers, respiratory therapists who are going to have go through this whole episode again, of trying to fight for people's lives because we couldn't figure out how to control this virus by doing some of the simple measures that have been prescribed," she responded.
When Gov. Pritzker returned to the podium, he took a moment to defend his top doctor.
"Dr. Ezike is a Superwoman," he said. "Since the very beginning of this coronavirus, she has had the weight of the public health of the people of the state of Illinois on her shoulders."
The governor said Dr. Ezike has seen protesters show up to her home, and through it all has continued to work seven days a week, very long hours every day, and expressed his admiration for her.
Tighter COVID-19 restrictions take effect Friday in Chicago and four surrounding counties, as well.
The action from Mayor Lori Lightfoot comes days after a warning about surging COVID-19 cases in the city, with the average number of daily cases approaching 700.
Gov. JB Pritzker said the state is now on a trajectory to surpass the peak reached in March and April.
The IDPH announced Friday that 51 counties in Illinois are considered to be at warning level for COVID-19. A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.
The counties include Adams, Bond, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, Edwards, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Gallatin, Greene, Hamilton, Henderson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Kane, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lee, Macon, Macoupin, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Rock Island, Saline, Shelby, Stephenson, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Warren, Wayne, Whiteside, Will, Williamson and Winnebago.
Although the reasons for counties reaching a warning level varies, some of the common factors for an increase in cases and outbreaks are associated with gatherings in people's homes, weddings and funerals, bars and clubs, university and college parties as well as college sports teams, family gatherings, long-term care facilities, correctional centers, schools and cases among the community at large, especially people in their 20s.
The deaths reported Friday include:
- Adams County: 1 female 70s
- Christian County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 80s
- Clark County: 1 female 80s
- Clinton County: 1 male 90s
- Cook County: 1 male 30s, 1 female 90s
- DeWitt County: 1 female 70s
- Jefferson County: 1 male 60s
- Kane County: 1 female 70s
- Kankakee County: 1 male 60s
- Lake County: 1 female 70s
- LaSalle County: 2 females 90s
- Macon County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
- Madison County: 1 female 80s
- McLean County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
- Rock Island County: 1 male 90s
- Sangamon County: 1 male 70s
- Shelby County: 1 female 70s
- St. Clair County: 1 male 80s
- Tazewell County: 1 male 80s
- Vermilion County: 2 males 70s
- Warren County: 1 male 90s
- White County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 90s
- Will County: 1 female 70s