The city of Chicago is seeing a slight rise in COVID cases, but Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a press conference on Thursday that there's a key takeaway that she wants Chicagoans to pay attention to.
“We continue to see cases, but overall the outbreak remains in good control,” Arwady announced.
The community spread currently remains low, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.
As of Thursday, the city of Chicago saw 304 new COVID cases, which is up 28% in the last week.
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Even with that increase, hospitalizations are down 38%, with just seven Chicagoans on average being hospitalized with COVID per day.
COVID deaths have also continued to drop, officials said.
“We have the fewest number of Chicagoans dying from COVID now than we have ever had since COVID hit the city," Arwady added.
CDPH is closely monitoring the spread of Omicron’s sub-variant, better known as BA.2, which is now making up the majority of COVID cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Public health officials say that while they are still encouraging residents to get vaccinated and boosted, there is some evidence to suggest that having been sickened by the omicron variant could potentially provide residual protection against the BA.2 subvariant.
“If you had a breakthrough infection in that January time period that most likely was Omicron, you have additional protection, we expect," Arwady said. "Not 100 percent protection, but good protection against BA.2.”
The city still emphasizes getting vaccinated, saying anyone over the age of 12 should have had 3 shots. So far, Chicagoans are lagging, with less than half of that eligible population getting a booster.
So what about a second booster? It’s recommended for those 65 and older and for those with a compromised immune system if you’re over 50.
“I don’t want people to think that this is something that everybody has to get," Arwady added. "My expectation that perhaps in the fall, we may see a new formulation of COVID vaccine that is more specific for variants.”
It remains unclear as to when that decision could be made.