Potential COVID bumps ahead
Officials took a victory lap Tuesday to celebrate low COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations after a long two-year battle with the virus.
- But recent data suggests we could be facing trouble ahead.
Driving the news: New wastewater surveillance data from the CDC shows rising COVID levels in Cook County.
- Two recent wastewater samples from the city and northwest suburbs showed a 1,000% increase in the presence of the virus over two weeks.
Yes, but: University of Illinois at Chicago wastewater researchers tempered concern in an interview with ABC-7, noting that the exponential rise started with very low virus levels.
- At a Tuesday press conference, health commissioner Allison Arwady said the wastewater program is still "in its infancy" but noted, "we are watching [data] closely."
Zoom out: Several large metro areas are seeing similar increases in wastewater.
Variant watch: New city data also shows a one-week rise of local BA.2 variant infections from 13% to 23% of cases.
- Data suggests the BA.2 is more transmissible than the previous strains of Omicron and has been associated with new infection surges in Europe and China.
- Arwady noted Tuesday, though, that early studies suggest previous Omicron infection can provide strong protection against BA.2.
The big picture: Arwady says she won't be surprised to see local cases rise with the recent relaxation of mask and vaccine mandates.
- But she does not expect to reimpose mask mandates unless the Chicago area returns to the high (or "red") category based on recent CDC metrics.
What's next: Arwady will do a deep dive on variants during her virtual briefing today at 11am.
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