Chicago officials removed three southern states and Maryland from the city’s COVID-19 travel advisory on Tuesday as the number of cases of the virus continued to slow across the nation.
The advisory now covers 41 states as well as Guam and the Virgin Islands, announced Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
City officials removed Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Mississippi from the travel order, joining Florida, Hawaii, California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
COVID-19 is spreading fastest in western states, including Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota.
“COVID is not through and as we begin to spend more time indoors, we must keep our guard up,” Arwady said. “Vaccination, along with common sense masking and social distancing, still offers us our best defense against COVID.”
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.
In addition, unvaccinated travelers should get tested three to five days before they leave on their trip as well as three to five days after they return, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even if they test negative, they should self-quarantine for seven days. Those who don’t take a test should quarantine for 10 days after travel, according to the new guidance.
Unvaccinated travelers should avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, even with a negative test, according to the new guidance.
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 with the emergence of the more transmissible delta variant, officials said.
States and territories that average more than 15 cases of COVID-19 per day per 100,000 residents are covered by the travel advisory, Chicago officials said.
Chicago is averaging 10.5 new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Illinois is averaging 12.9 cases per day, according to data from the Chicago Department of Public Health. The national case rate is 17.8, officials said.
An average of 285 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 4% decrease from the previous week, according to Chicago Department of Public Health data.
Eight business were cited between Thursday and Sunday for flouting the city’s indoor mask mandate, city officials said.
The city’s test positivity rate is 1.6%, down from 2% a week ago.
Daily hospitalizations have fallen by 52% in the past seven days, and 64.4% 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 triggered fines of $100 to $500 per day for a maximum fine of $7,000, according to the mayor’s office.
City officials said the advisory is designed to be part of a COVID-19 education campaign.