Cook County marks sobering milestone: 11,000 COVID-19 deaths

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Officials said Cook County recorded its 11,000th life lost Wednesday, a sobering milestone in the fight against COVID-19.

"That's 11,000 of our neighbors, our friends, our family members. And that's hundreds of thousands of grieving loved ones left to pick up the pieces," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Jimmy Webb, 31, a beloved father of two, lost his battle to COVID Monday night just days after he started feeling the symptoms.

His mother, Tomiko, said her firstborn son was a devoted family man who would do anything for his children and was someone his friends who confide in.

"I know I am going to miss his laugh and his smile and the sound of his voice," his mother said. "He was the life of the party. He kept everybody up in spirits, everybody laughing."

Webb's family one of the hundreds of thousands in Cook County mourning the loss of a life taken by COVID-19.

"No matter your age, no matter how healthy you are, you're susceptible to the virus, it can kill you," Preckwinkle said. "If you are a person of color or Black and brown communities, you are disproportionately impacted in the last month, more than 46% almost half of our COVID deaths are in the African American community, and more than a quarter are in the Latinx community."

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Cook County Health officials said the best way to honor those lives lost is to make sure to protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated.

"This is something most of us do not want to see," said Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, Cook County's chief medical examiner. "11,000 COVID deaths is 11,000 too many."

"The most heroic thing that you can do in this pandemic is to get vaccinated to help protect you and your family," said Dr. Israel Rocha Jr., CEO, Cook County Health.

Health experts emphasized getting the shot is the best way to save your life and others - and only way to bring COVID-19 to a standstill.

"At this point, nearly every death, every hospitalization that we are seeing is entirely preventable," said Dr. Kiran Joshi, Cook County Health.

Webb's mother said she didn't believe her son was vaccinated and hopes this message stays with those who have yet to get vaccine.

"COVID-19 is nothing to play with. People need to take it seriously and get vaccinated," Webb said. "Find some type of way to protect yourself, keep yourself from going through what I'm going through with the loss of my child."
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