Arkansas Removed from Chicago’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Chicago officials removed Arkansas from the city’s COVID-19 travel advisory Tuesday even as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Chicago as colder weather blanketed the city. 

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The advisory continues to cover 40 states as well as Guam, announced Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The states not included on the advisory are concentrated in the south, where cases of COVID-19 fueled by the delta variant surged during the summer months but have now waned.

To be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Thanksgiving, those 18 and older should get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the final dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, Arwady said.

“For many of us, our thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving, in the hope that we can celebrate among family and friends, like we did before COVID,” Arwady said. “If you want some peace of mind, not only for yourself but for those you’ll be joining for Thanksgiving, make sure you are fully vaccinated by [Friday].”

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. The delta variant stopped that progress.

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 14.1 new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Illinois is averaging 19.7 cases per day, according to CDPH data. The national case rate is 21.6, officials said.

An average of 382 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 21% increase from the previous week, according to CDPH data.

Four 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 2%, up from 1.7% a week ago.

Daily hospitalizations have fallen by 27% in the past seven days, and 65.5% 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.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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