Chicago is past omicron peak, but not out of woods yet, Dr. Allison Arwady says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago has officially passed the peak of COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant, the city's top doctor announced Wednesday.

Chicago Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady shared the hopeful news in her weekly COVID-19 update, but warned residents not to let their guard down yet.

WATCH | Chicago is past omicron peak, Dr. Arwady says
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Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city has passed the peak from the omicron variant.

Arwady said the first indicator of progress was a decline in emergency room diagnoses of COVID-19, which peaked on Dec. 7. She added that test positivity in the city peaked on Jan. 1 and has been declining ever since.

"We're confident seeing that big decrease both in cases and in positivity that this is not just an artifact of testing, but this is in fact a true peak," Arwady said.

Arwady said the omicron variant now makes up 99.3% of all COVID-19 cases in Chicago, with only 0.7% of cases attributed to delta.

SEE ALSO | Gov. Pritzker 'cautiously optimistic' Illinois is past omicron peak

While the city's COVID metrics are improving, Arwady warned that the risk of infection remained high and urged residents to get vaccinated and continue wearing masks to slow the spread of the virus.

"We have a very long way to go to be down to a place where this is manageable," Arwady said. "You know, where we're 'living with COVID,' and I do think we'll be living with COVID for the long term."

The latest statistics shows unvaccinated Chicagoans are five times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID and eight times more likely to die, Arwady said.

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