Chicago officials have reinstated the city’s COVID-19 travel advisory as cases spike with the spread of the delta variant of the virus in Missouri and Arkansas.
The city’s travel order, first implemented in July 2020, did not include any states as of June 1, as vaccination efforts tamped down cases and spurred reopenings across the United States. On June 29, officials announced the order would become an advisory, as COVID-19 cases remained low across the nation.
However, progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19 has been reversed in Missouri and Arkansas with the spread of the more transmissible delta variant of the virus, officials said. Unvaccinated visitors to Chicago from those states are urged to quarantine for 10 days or record a negative test for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their arrival, officials said.
According to data compiled by the New York Times, just 35% of all Arkansas residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19; and 40% of all Missouri residents are fully vaccinated against the virus.
In Illinois, 55% of all residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Missouri is recording more than 21 new cases per day per 100,000 residents, while Arkansas is recording more than 19 cases per day per 100,000 residents. States with more than 15 new cases per day per 100,000 residents will be added to the travel advisory, Chicago officials said.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Monday she is concerned that rising COVID-19 cases in Missouri will spread into the Metro East area of Illinois. Some hospitals in Missouri have been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
City officials are also concerned about rising cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as in Nevada, Louisiana, Utah, Wyoming and Florida.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and this only goes to show that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must all remain vigilant against it,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “That means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public settings if you are not fully vaccinated.”
Approximately 99% of hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals, Arwady said.
An average of 53 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 53% increase from the previous week, according to Chicago Department of Public Health data.
The city’s test positivity rate is 1.1%, up from 0.7% from past week, while the number of tests dropped 12% to an average of approximately 6,100 per day, according to city data.
Daily hospitalizations have fallen by 15% in the past seven days, and 56.7% of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to city data.
No one was cited for violating the travel order, which could have triggeed fines of $100 to $500 per day for a maximum fine of $7,000, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
City officials said the advisory is designed to be part of a COVID-19 education campaign.