As the lives of Illinoisans appear to be getting back to normal post-pandemic, the governor is sounding the alarm over a new omicron variant.
State health officials say the BA.2 COVID-19 omicron variant is more contagious than other strains of the virus, and accounts for about 25% of the cases in Illinois.
“Although that percentage has been steadily rising, we have not seen a commensurate rise in cases or hospitalizations,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during an unrelated news conference Monday.
The governor said the state replenished its stockpile of medical supplies, and it has more than 1.5 million rapid tests with more on the way. Pritzker also called on schools to determine how much testing they can do and to prepare if there is another surge.
Pritzker hinted at taking precautions if he sees fit.
“For now, things in Illinois are improving, but if conditions here change, I will address the people of Illinois with needed actions,” he said.
State Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, has proposed legislation that would limit the governor’s emergency powers. He recently told his colleagues on the Illinois House floor the governor should not be allowed to shut down sectors of the state as he did in the past.
“I am asking you to put an end to this,” Ugaste said. “No one person should be able to declare an emergency for two years.”
There are 21 states that empower their legislatures to end a state of emergency by joint resolution at any time, and 12 of those require their legislatures to approve any extension of emergency declarations.
Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s Public Health commissioner, said shutting everything down and taking drastic measures to keep a virus out is unrealistic.
“Countries that had been aiming for a zero goal, it’s really not possible with a variant as infectious,” Arwady said.
Chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that he does not think the U.S. will see another surge in COVID-19 cases due to the new variant.
When asked by ABC News if there was any reason to reverse the relaxation of pandemic restrictions that has taken place in the past month, Fauci said not right now.
“I don’t see us going back into any more restrictions, but you always have to have the flexibility,” Fauci said.
This article was originally posted on Pritzker hints at precautions over latest omicron variant