Dr. Emily Landon at the Illinois Governor’s COVID-19 Press Conference

Dr. Emily Landon at the Illinois Governor’s COVID-19 Press Conference


[MUSIC PLAYING] Good afternoon, everyone. Afternoon. First of all, I want to
send my sincere gratitude and support to all of the
health care workers in Illinois and around the world. Despite doing our best to
prepare for a respiratory virus pandemic, we now find ourselves
facing a brand new virus with too little
information, not enough personal protective
equipment, changing protocols every single day, and
no second chances. The University of
Chicago Medicine and every other
hospital in the state has been and is working very
closely with our public health departments. Without these partnerships
with each other, and with public
health, and the CDC, we could not have
made it this far. And we will not
get much further. And so I also
express my gratitude to everyone working
in public health. All of us in the field
of infectious diseases and the public health community
are united in our efforts and agree with this
course of action. I have spoken with
many of my colleagues across the city and the state. And we all acknowledge that
this is the only way forward. This virus is unforgiving. It spreads before you even
know you’ve caught it. And it tricks you into
believing that it’s nothing more than a little influenza. For many of us, it may not
be much more than the flu. And so it could
be very confusing as to why schools are closed,
restaurants are shuttered. And now, the virus
is taking what’s left of our precious liberty. But the real problem
is not the 80% who will get over this in a week. It’s the 20% of
patients, the older, those that are
immunocompromised, those that have other medical
problems who are going to need a bit more support– some oxygen or maybe a
ventilator, life support. We do amazing things like
this to save patients in our American hospitals
and across the world every single day. But we can’t take care
of everyone at once. And we can’t keep
that low mortality promise if we can’t provide the
support that our patients need. Our health care system
doesn’t have any slack. There are no empty wards
waiting for patients or nurses waiting in the wings. We barely even have enough masks
for the nurses that we have. Looking back to the
last time, we were– limited tools and having a
dangerous infection spread quickly was the beginning
of the 1918 pandemic. Two cities in America
made different choices about how to proceed and
when only a few patients were affected. St. Louis shut itself down
and sheltered in place. But Philadelphia went
ahead with a huge parade to celebrate those
going off to war. A week later, Philadelphia
hospitals were overrun. And thousands were dead,
many more than in St. Louis. This is a cautionary
tale for our time. Things are already tough
in Illinois hospitals, including mine. There is no vaccine or
readily available antiviral to help stem the tide. All we have to slow the
spread is social distance. And if we let every single
patient with this infection infect three more people
and then each of them infect two or three
more people, there won’t be a hospital bed when my
mother can’t breathe very well or when yours is
coughing too much. So in my house, we’ve
made a lot of sacrifices. We don’t go out anymore. This is the first time I’ve
left my house in some days, because I’m leading our
efforts in emergency planning for my home. My son has traded in sports,
a science conference, and the fifth grade bake
sale for puzzles, e-learning, and some video chats. This isn’t the life
any of us expected. And certainly, there
are others who will make much greater sacrifices. And there are many more
disappointments to come. But this isn’t
going to be forever, like the governor said. It will last longer than
any of us wanted to. But in the end,
we will look back and see it as just
a piece of what happened in our whole lives. And we have to remember that. How can soccer or a book
club be so dangerous? Why ask so much of people
for just a few hundred cases? Because it’s the only
way to save those lives. And now is the time. Because the numbers you
see today in the news are the people that
got sick a week ago. And there are still
people today who got sick today, who
haven’t even noticed that they’ve been sick yet. They picked up the virus,
and it will take a week to see that show in our numbers. Waiting for hospitals
to be overwhelmed will leave the following weeks’
patients with nowhere to go. In short, without
taking drastic measures, the healthy and optimistic among
us will doom the vulnerable. We have to fight this fire
before it grows too high. These extreme restrictions
may seem, in the end, a little anticlimactic. Because it’s really
hard to feel like you’re saving the world
when you’re watching Netflix from your couch. But if we do this
right, nothing happens. Yeah. A successful shelter
in place means that you’re going to feel
like it was all for nothing. And you’d be right. Because nothing
means that nothing happened to your family. And that’s what
we’re going for here. Even starting now, we
can’t stop the cases from coming fast and furious,
at least for the next couple of weeks and in the short term. But with a real commitment
to sheltering in place and a whole lot of
patience, we can help protect our
critical workers who need to use public
transportation in order to safely get from
where they need to go. We can give our
factories time to ramp up production of all that PPE,
so that we have enough masks to last. And we can make more
medications and learn more about how we could use them
to help save more lives. Even a little time
makes a huge difference. It will take more than
a week to start seeing the rate of increase slow down. And that’s a complicated
thing to say. It’ll take even longer to
see the rate come down, and see it slowing, and
infections going down. So, please, don’t give up. I’ve lived in Illinois
my entire life. And I know we’ll get through
this together and find a way back to the life
that we used to live. Public health and hospitals
have been working hard for a long time. And now, it’s your turn to do
your part, a huge sacrifice to make, but a sacrifice
that can make thousands of differences, maybe even a
difference in your family, too. [MUSIC PLAYING]