Top Doc to Leave Post, New Study on COVID and Fertility – NBC Chicago

Illinois’ top doctor has announced she will leave her post as the leader of the state’s health department this month.

Her announcement comes as health officials say Illinois is entering the “next phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, with masking and vaccine restrictions being lifted in both Chicago and across the state.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Another Round of Free COVID Tests From the Government Available Starting Next Week

More free COVID tests from the government will soon become available, even for those who already received their first shipment, President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address.

In his remarks Tuesday, Biden said that in addition to starting a new antiviral initiative, his administration would allow people in the U.S. to order another round of free tests from the government.

Read more here.

What’s Next for Illinois’ Top Doctor? Here’s What Dr. Ezike’s Says Is Her New Priority After Leaving IDPH

After Tuesday’s announcement that Illinois’ top doctor would be leaving her position later this month, the state’s Department of Public Health Director Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike detailed her next focus.

In an emotional address Tuesday, Ezike thanked Illinoisans for allowing her to lead the state through a global pandemic and said it’s time for her to make her family a priority after a number of “sacrifices” the past two years.

Read more here.

COVID Infection Could Cause Erectile Dysfunction, Decreased Fertility, New Study Shows

A COVID-19 infection has the ability to reach the male genital tract, causing health problems in the penis, testicles and prostate, according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine.

The study found that the coronavirus infection caused testicular pain, erectile dysfunction, reduced sperm count and decreased fertility in a number of subjects.

Northwestern warned that “millions” of men could be affected by the results of the study and that men previously infected with COVID should “evaluate their sexual health.”

Read more here.

‘She Will Go Down in the Illinois History Books’: IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike Leaving Post

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike will be leaving her position later this month after serving three years in the role, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday.

Ezike will serve her last day as Illinois’ top doctor on March 14. Dr. Amaal Tokars, who is currently the assistant director of IDPH, will serve as interim director as a nationwide search is launched to find a permanent replacement, according to the governor’s office.

In announcing her departure, Pritzker proclaimed Tuesday Dr. Ngozi Ezike Day in Illinois, acknowledging her role in the state’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“No number of sleepless nights and endless days could wear down her commitment to think first and foremost of Illinois’ most vulnerable,” Pritzker said. “I ran for office, I ran for office. She did not. But throughout the crisis, she has stood beside me every step of the way. I am not putting it lightly when I say that she has had one of the hardest jobs in the world. There is something particularly heroic about the service of an extraordinary individual who did not seek greatness, but found it anyway.”

Read more here.

5 More States, Territories Removed From Chicago Travel Advisory

Five states and territories were dropped from Chicago’s travel advisory Tuesday, bringing the city’s warning list down to 47 states and one territory.

The city’s health department announced the District of Columbia, Nebraska, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all came off the advisory this week.

By next week, the city noted more than a dozen other locations could be removed.

Read more here.

Pritzker Issues Updated Executive Order as Mask Mandate Ends

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an updated executive order on Monday, officially ending mandatory masking in most indoor settings in the state.

According to the new order, masks will no longer be required inside of most businesses and will not be required inside of schools, but those institutions will be allowed to enact their own mask requirements at their own discretion, according to the order.

Read more here.