Illinois, Chicago Public Health confirms state’s first case of Omicron COVID-19 variant

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The South African doctor who alerted officials of the possibility of a new variant, later named omicron, said the “unusual but mild” symptoms were what caught her attention. (Photo: Getty Images)

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Tuesday that the state’s first known Omicron COVID-19 variant case is a Chicago resident.

Health officials add that the resident was fully vaccinated. As of Tuesday, the resident is in self-isolation and contact tracing is being performed.

In a Tuesday question and answer seminar on Facebook, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she anticipated the omicron variant’s arrival in Illinois in the coming days.

“Absolutely, expect that it will be detected in Chicago or Illinois even in the next day or two,” Arwady said.

Arwady said Covid cases are now averaging more than 800 over the last week, meaning there’s a ‘very high risk’ of COVID-19 transmission — up more than 180% since Nov. 1, when fewer than 300 cases a day were reported. 

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

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is working on action moving forward.

“The City and CDPH continue to closely monitor the Omicron variant and work with medical experts to better inform our residents,” Lightfoot said.

To find the most recent updates on COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, or to find your COVID-19 vaccine, visit Chicago.gov/COVIDvax in Chicago and https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19.html throughout Illinois.

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COVID-19 risk as determined by nonprofit Covid Act Now.

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