Dr Arwady says Chicago faces ‘very large’ COVID-19 outbreak as Omicron variant arrives

CHICAGO – Hours before the news of the detection of the omicron variant in Chicago was announced, city health officials warned of an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Midwest during cold weather.

Dr Allison Arwady says she prefers the idea of ​​vaccination requirements over closures and capacity restrictions, but a major restaurant association disagrees. Arwady, however, anticipated the upcoming arrival of the omicron variant in Illinois.

“Absolutely, expect it to be detected in Chicago or Illinois even within a day or two,” Arwady said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that the state’s first known case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is a Chicago resident. Health officials add that the resident was fully vaccinated.

Ahead of the state’s notification of the state’s first Omicron case, the Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner said she was concerned the city was now facing a second wave of the delta variant.

“We have moved to a very high transmission,” said Arwady.

During a Facebook question-and-answer session with the public on Tuesday morning, Arwady said Covid cases now have averaged over 800 over the past week, meaning there is a ‘Very high risk’ of COVID-19 transmission – up over 180% since November. 1, when less than 300 cases per day have been reported.

Chicago’s positivity rate is also 4.1%. At the start of November, it was only 1.6%.

Arwady also raised the possibility of a new city-wide requirement for people to show proof of vaccination to enter theaters, gyms, restaurants and bars.

“It’s definitely something that as this increase continues and with a new variation we can do more,” said Arwady.

Roger Romanelli, who represents restaurants in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, said new restrictions would be ineffective in increasing vaccinations and would only hurt restaurants.

“We have seen in New York and other cities that restaurant staff get beaten up when they demand vaccination papers from people,” Romanelli said. “So look, the restaurants are working hard. But they are not the only ones having to influence the resolution of this crisis. And time and time again, the city insists that restaurants, eateries bear the burden of solving the Covid crisis. It is not fair and there is no money to support it from the city.

Governor Pritzker was asked if he would consider a private sector vaccine mandate, like the one in place in New York now? In response, Pritzker said it was not on the table.

“It’s not something we’ve looked at,” Pritzker said. “We have people who get vaccinated every day because more and more people are getting almost sick and going to the hospital. Not all are vaccinated.

About 59% of Illinois’ 12 million people are fully immunized.

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