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Chicago's Mayor Looking At Mitigation Strategies To Combat The City's Latest COVID Surge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's been exactly  one year since the first American received a dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Proof of that vaccine may soon be more important than ever. CBS 2's Chris Tye reports discussions are getting louder in Chicago about a new round of mitigations as case counts continue to rise.

And if you're eating out in the city, your vaccination card may be the latest item to fall into the category of don't leave home without it.

New paperwork may be headed the way of local restaurants.

"We are looking at a number of different strategies to help us deal with this latest surge," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The surge in COVID cases in the city is almost exclusively Delta variant, and talk of requiring vaccine cards before entering eateries -- as is the case in New York -- is on the table. However it's not a done deal in Chicago.

"We are talking to them about a range of issues. Haven't landed on one particular mitigation strategy versus another," Lightfoot said.

The head of the Illinois Restaurant Association weighing in on the possible transition.

"If a Chicago vaccine passport is instituted, we will advocate for policies that are as business-friendly as possible, and that don't hinder our industry's very fragile recovery," said Sam Toia of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

Since Thanksgiving, unvaccinated Chicagoans have become three times more likely to get infected. And breakthrough cases rising for the vaccinated as well.

"Yes, we are seeing more breakthroughs," said Doctor Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH.) She showed on a graph indicating the increase.

"The dark blue line there, that's the highest its been," Arwady said. "It's why boosters are important. But so much more driving this is the huge increase in the unvaccinated."

That pool is shrinking, but not fast enough for experts. Approximately 14,000 vaccinations occurring everyday in Chicago.

If vaccine cards become a requirement for Chicago dining, the mayor hopes it serves two purposes.

"The type of tools being used at the local level to mitigate the spread but also compel unvaccinated folks to get vaccinated," Lightfoot said.

If there is a silver lining: Illinois' numbers are the best in the Midwest. But, Chicago is still averaging four to five COVID deaths a week. It's slightly better than the five to six average from last week.

Dr. Arwady said she is skeptical of early claims that Omicron causes less severe illness than Delta.

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