'The sky is not falling' with Omicron variant, Chicago health commissioner says

Allison Arwady at news conference
Dr. Allison Arwady Photo credit Twitter/City of Chicago

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Chicago health leaders say they’re not overly concerned about the new Omicron COVID variant that is surfacing across the globe.

“Yes, I’m concerned about it. No, the sky is not falling,” Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday during a media briefing.

She said the more pressing concern locally is making sure residents are vaccinated and receive their booster shots. That’s the best way to make sure hospitals are not overwhelmed, she said.

“I’m concerned right now, today, about the more than 600 cases that we are averaging every day here in Chicago — the hundreds of Chicagoans in the hospital, the unnecessary COVID that we are seeing,” Arwady said. “All of that here is the Delta variant. It is not the Omicron variant.”

She said other tried-and-true methods still work, including wearing masks indoors.

“Staying home if you’re sick, handwashing and distancing,” Arwady added. “I don’t have anything else magic to offer you with the Omicron variant.”

Meantime, Chicago Public Schools leaders are continuing to urge parents to get their children vaccinated. They say any decisions on returning to remote learning will be made with guidance from city health officials.