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Omicron COVID Variant: What Chicago Health Officials Are Telling People What To Expect

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is now in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported that the Chicago resident was a known contact of someone else with a confirmed Omicron case who visited Chicago.

The Chicago resident was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and has had a booster dose. The resident did not require hospitalization, is improving, and has been self-isolating since their symptoms began.

While information on Omicron is still coming in, there are other matters including its impact on kids and how we should all be handling cold-like symptoms this year. CBS 2's Chris Tye reports on what the experts are saying.

Ten days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci said we need at least two weeks to answer some of the big questions on Omicron. But on Tuesday, he signaled that the early signals are encouraging. Wall Street soared Tuesday on news this may not be as bad as we first thought. One of Chicago's leading experts is also weighing in.

"The picture is still pretty mixed," said Dr. Emily Landon of University of Chicago Medicine. "It appears to be causing more breakthrough infection than anyone is comfortable with. It also appears like it may be not as quite as serious disease."

But some of the earliest data, from South Africa and Europe where Omicron was first seen, is that kids may be at greater risk.

"We don't know very much. We know there are some parts in South Africa, there are kids getting more sick and seeing more kids hospital. We also know some doctors telling us those getting Omicron after having had COVID aren't getting very sick with it," Landon said.

Speaking of sickness, as the temperatures plummet and holiday gatherings become more frequent, how should we be reacting to runny nose and sore throats this month?

"You can't chalk anything up to a common cold right now, especially in this current situation. You must get tested even for a runny nose," Landon said. "You cannot tell the difference between influenza, the common cold and COVID. Especially at the beginning."

And, acknowledging we are at the beginning of understanding Omicron, if someone contracts Omicron does it make them immune to Delta?

"I would expect that that is probably the case," Landon said. "And it looks like the preliminary early data is that individual vaccine and had COVID are a little bit more protected from it, but that is very sketchy data still."

Landon said she would fast track a booster shot if you haven't gotten one and cut back on some unmasked gatherings. And if older relatives are in your future Christmas week, consider really sitting out the week prior to keep your system healthy.

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