• Tracking the variant

Live updates: Omicron Variant in Chicago

COVID cases are dropping in Chicago. What now?

Lurie Children’s hospital registered nurses prepare Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine syringes
Lurie Children's hospital registered nurses prepare Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine syringes Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago. With the latest surge of COVID-19 waning, many wonder what will happen next. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Chicago residents are starting to see the end of yet another major COVID-19 surge, with cases dropping nearly 50% in the city last week. The recurring question on many minds remains: What happens next?

Health experts around the country are probing that exact question as the highly contagious omicron variant, which resembles the flu in many vaccinated adults, begins to wane.

But what a potential post-omicron world looks like, what will be expected of us and what we expect from government officials to manage future outbreaks are complicated questions, with a lot of variables and unknowns. Will we keep masking, and for how long? Are proof of vaccine mandates the way? Now that most of the city is vaccinated, what do we do next?

COVID-19 is expected to return “sort of consistently here,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the city’s public health department. “At some level, this is … What is it going to look like to live with COVID?”

But if the city is indeed moving to a new living-with-the-pandemic phase, local leaders say Chicagoans need more information about what to do, aside from getting vaccinated, in order to stay safe and protect others.

Read more: Chicago’s latest COVID-19 surge is subsiding. What happens next?