Like many states struggling to emerge from the pandemic, Illinois has been forced to be an agent of its own salvation, and Ezike has led the way. As the state’s top doc, she’s a reassuring presence at news conferences alongside Chicago’s own public health savior, Allison Arwady (see No. 4). But with the IDPH’s regional reopening phases and resurgence mitigation tiers overriding the often less stringent measures proposed by City Hall, it falls to Ezike to deliver the toughest love. She went early and hard with the stay-at-home order, and even as the vaccines roll out, she still stands by the data despite pushback from business owners who want restrictions relaxed. With equal parts stoicism and humanity, she has helped the state and the city — which continues to be disproportionately affected by the virus — avoid the harrowing surges that have afflicted New York and California.