dr. Arwady says Chicago faces ‘very significant’ COVID-19 wave as Omicron variant arrives – Community News
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dr. Arwady says Chicago faces ‘very significant’ COVID-19 wave as Omicron variant arrives

CHICAGO — Hours before news broke that the Omicron variant was discovered in Chicago, city health officials warned of a surge in cold weather COVID-19 cases in the Midwest.

dr. Allison Arwady says she favors vaccination requirements over closures and capacity restrictions, but a major restaurant association disagrees. However, Arwady soon anticipated the arrival of the ommicron variety in Illinois.

“Definitely, expect it to be detected even in Chicago or Illinois in a few days,” Arwady said.

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

One of the doctors who first discovered the variant in Chicago said it will likely spread quickly.

“A sample submitted to the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab was suspicious for Omicron,” said Dr. Mary Hayden of Rush University Medical Center. “Omicron has a lot of mutations that the other circulating variants don’t have, and because it’s distinctive in that way, we were able to identify it as Omicron very quickly.”

Before reporting the state’s first Omicron case, the Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner said she was concerned the city was now dealing with a second wave of the delta variant.

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

During a Facebook question and answer session with the audience Tuesday morning, Arwady said Covid cases have averaged over 800 in the past week, meaning there is a ‘very high risk’ of COVID-19 transmission – an increase of more than 180% since November. 1, when fewer than 300 cases per day were reported.

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

Arwady also proposed the prospect of a new citywide 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 variant, we can do more,” Arwady said.

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

“We’ve seen in New York and other cities that restaurant workers get beat up when they demand vaccination papers from people,” Romanelli said. “Look, restaurants are hard at work. But they are not the only ones bearing the burden of solving this crisis. And time and again, the city insists that restaurants, restaurants are burdened to solve 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 current one in New York? In response, Pritzker said that is not on the table.

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

About 59% of the 12 million people in Illinois are fully vaccinated.

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