Video: “Chicago Tonight” talks with Dr. Susan Bleasdale of UI Health about COVID-19 in Chicago and lifting restrictions. (Produced by Evan Garcia)
For the first time in nearly a year, visitors to Chicago from anywhere within the United States do not have to quarantine for 10 days or record a negative test for COVID-19, city officials announced Tuesday.
Seven states — Colorado, Michigan, West Virginia, Maine, Florida, Minnesota and Washington — moved from the orange tier to the less-restrictive yellow tier of the city’s COVID-19 travel order, which was updated Tuesday.
All 50 states along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., are recording fewer than 15 new cases per 100,000 residents per day and are no longer covered by the travel order, according to city guidance.
“This shows that what we have been doing to protect ourselves and others is working: social distancing, wearing masks, and above all, getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Department of Public Health.
An average of 157 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 38% decrease from the previous week, according to Chicago Department of Public Health data. The city’s test positivity rate has dropped to 2.2% from 3% during the past seven days, according to city data.
That is an all-time low for test positivity and cases in Chicago since the start of pandemic, smashing the previous record for test positivity of 2.7% and an average of 269 cases set March 5, just before a new surge of cases.
Arwady has long set 200 cases per day on average as a goal for Chicago’s progress during the pandemic, saying it would mean Chicagoans were no longer at a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic will be “controlled” when there are fewer than 20 cases per day of COVID-19 on average, officials said.
Daily hospitalizations have fallen by 43% in the past seven days, and 51.9% of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to city data.
No one has been cited for violating the travel order, which was first announced July 6.
Violators of the quarantine order could have faced fines of $100 to $500 per day for a maximum fine of $7,000, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. However, city officials said they used the order as part of a COVID-19 education campaign rather than an enforcement effort.