After voicing due respect for the dead and deathly ill, Dr. Ngozi Ezike on Wednesday next delivered the cold, hard COVID-19 numbers over the prior day: 192 dead, 1,677 new cases, more than 17,000 tests.

Then the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health spoke words that should not have been needed. “This is a real disease. This is a serious disease. It is not a hoax,” she said.

Only in these politically polarized times would a public official tally a death toll of nearly 4,000 souls in Illinois so far — then feel a need to state COVID-19 is nobody’s hoax.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.