Chicago officials removed Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee 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.
One week after it was removed from the advisory, officials returned Arkansas to the list of states with high rates of transmission. The advisory includes 38 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. Cases are highest in the Midwest, where cold weather has settled over the region, officials said.
“Right now, for unvaccinated people, traveling over Thanksgiving is a risky move, especially if you plan to visit other Midwest or Upper Midwest states, where the daily case rates have not been going down,” Arwady said. “Fully vaccinated people are at a much lower risk of serious COVID-related health problems, but all of us should be careful over the coming weeks — even more so if you plan to be among crowds or at large family gatherings.”
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 16.4 new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Illinois is averaging 25.5 cases per day, according to CDPH data. The national case rate is 23.4, officials said.
An average of 445 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 10% increase from the previous week, according to CDPH data.
Five 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 2.5%, up from 2% a week ago.
Daily hospitalizations have fallen by 41% in the past seven days, and 66.7% 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 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.