A Look Back at COVID-19’s History in the State of Illinois

March 4, 2022

Earlier this year, Illinois quietly slipped past the two-year anniversary marking the first case of COVID-19 in the state, which was reported on Jan. 24, 2020. This two-year mark didn’t make the news headlines at the time, as Illinois was still reeling from the Omicron surge. But earlier this week, a date in our state’s history with COVID had a bit of a higher profile.

Governor Pritzker announced that Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike, MD, will bring her three-year tenure to a close on March 14. Dr. Ezike had been instrumental in Illinois’ response to the pandemic from the very start. The governor then issued a proclamation declaring March 1 to be Dr. Ezike Day in the State of Illinois.

Other significant milestones for Illinois should also be noted:

  • Jan. 30, 2020 – The second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Illinois was reported in a man who was the spouse of the first confirmed case (six days earlier), marking the first person-to-person spread of the virus in the United States.
  • Feb. 11, 2020 – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that our state was able to conduct COVID-19 testing – making Illinois the first state in the country to perform in-state testing.
  • March 17, 2020 – IDPH announces the first COVID-19 death in Illinois.
  • Dec. 15, 2020 – The first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the state.


As we go to press, more than 3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Illinois since the pandemic began, according to IDPH. Our state has suffered close to 33,000 COVID-19 fatalities. More than 54 million tests have been conducted since the pandemic began and about 21 million vaccine doses have been administered since vaccinations were launched in December 2020.


What’s next? Perhaps the Land of Lincoln will quietly slip into an endemic phase of the pandemic and seasonal mask wearing. Maybe Jan. 24, 2023, which will be Illinois’ three-year COVID anniversary, will be a day instead marked for celebration.

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