CHICAGO — Omicron is already the most common variant among new COVID-19 cases in the United States, officials announced Monday.
The United States’ first Omicron case was found just Dec. 1. But already the variant accounts for more than three-fourths of cases found within the past week in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday, according to The Associated Press.
The variant is thought to be far more transmissible than past versions of the virus. Researchers are still determining how effective vaccines are against it and if it is more or less severe than prior versions of the virus. Officials have said they do expect currently available vaccines offer at least some protection from serious illness and death.
Chicago saw its first Omicron case detected Dec. 7, and the variant has been found in the suburbs. Chicago officials have not yet said what measure they’ll take to try to slow the variant, though Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last week an announcement is coming “soon.”
On Friday, Cook County officials said they are urging — but not requiring — businesses to check the vaccination status of all patrons in an attempted to slow the variant’s spread.
The city and the rest of Illinois have already been struggling with rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths for weeks. That surge has been fueled by the Delta variant, officials have said.
With cases expected to rise due to the Omicron variant, officials have warned hospitalizations and deaths will tick up, too.
Here are the county’s recommendations during this surge:
Vaccinations and boosters:
- Fully vaccinated people should get their booster shots if they are eligible.
- People who are not fully vaccinated should get their shots. “Vaccination against COVID-19 will protect against severe disease and death, even with the emergence of the Omicron variant,” according to the country health department. “Initial data indicates that boosters are especially important now, to provide extra protection against this new variant.”
- People who are not fully vaccinated should not gather indoors with people outside their household.
- People who wish to celebrate the holidays should get tested two days before their holiday event and the morning of the event. People who test positive should stay home and isolate.
- People should wear masks.
- Workplaces should hold virtual holiday gatherings instead of in-person ones to avoid large groups of employees congregating.
- Businesses are “urged” to require patrons to be fully vaccinated and/or to require patrons show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of entry, according to the county health department. This measure is “especially important” at places where large groups congregate indoors and where people remove their masks.
- Masks are required for indoor spaces.
• In Illinois, about 7.6 million people — or 59.94 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.
• Across the state, 65,382 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.
• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 18,638,831 vaccine doses of the 21,061,135 provided to them.
• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 63.5 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 70.4 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.
Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.
• Since Friday, 111 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.
• At least 27,228 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,102 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
• The state reported 31,459 cases since Friday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,975,515.
• Since Friday, 574,140 tests were reported statewide. In all, 42,607,495 tests have been reported in Illinois.
• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 5.5 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.9 percent Friday.
• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 7.1 percent. It was at 6.2 percent Friday.
• As of Sunday night, 811 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 432 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.
• In Chicago, 24 deaths were reported since Friday. There have been at least 6,145 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than eight people dying per day, a 53 percent increase from last week.
• Chicago has had 8,486 confirmed cases reported since Friday. It’s had a total of 373,011 confirmed cases. An average of 1,149 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 21 percent from the week prior.
• Testing in Chicago is down 1 percent since a week ago.
• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.9 percent, up from 3.9 percent the week prior.
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