Illinois governor 'cautiously optimistic' Omicron is receding

JB Pritzker
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Photo credit State of Illinois livestream

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and his top medical officer on Wednesday said they are “cautiously optimistic” that the surge of Omicron-driven coronavirus cases is going downward but urged the vaccine hesitant to get their shots.

Pritzker said the state’s largest-ever peak in hospitalizations — 7,380 — was seven days ago, on Jan. 13. Every day since then, he said, that total has dropped more than 11.8% to 6,570, an encouraging sign, even though hospitals are still under tremendous pressure.

“I want to be clear: I am cautiously optimistic about this decline, but there are an awful lot of people battling for their lives,” Pritzker said at a news conference.

Pritzker’s director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Ngozi Ezike, seconded the upbeat outlook about the highly contagious Omicron variant.

“The good news is that the trend is downward,” she said.

They encouraged people to get vaccinated and boosted, with Pritzker once again saying the majority of people who have been hospitalized recently with COVID-19 were not. He noted that so far this year about 100,000 Illinois residents have gotten their first shot.

“Many who have remained on the fence for awhile now are choosing now to get protected and to protect their children," the governor said.

The city of Chicago’s top medical officer, Dr. Allison Arwady, on Wednesday also indicated the city has bent the curve after weeks of struggling with the Omicron surge. She said Chicago's peak seems to have been in the first week of January, based on subsequent COVID metrics that have decreased or stabilized.

“I am very, very pleased to say that we have formally passed the Omicron peak here in the city of Chicago,” Arwady said.