Chicago Named Top Domestic Travel Destination for Thanksgiving Holiday: Report

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Chicago is the top destination for domestic travelers this Thanksgiving holiday, according to a newly released report.

Hopper found that most people booking through its travel app were headed to Chicago this week, noting that rates have increased by 20% from 2020 and 5% from 2019.

The next two top Thanksgiving travel destinations were Atlanta, Georgia and Los Angeles, Hopper data showed. Outside of the U.S., the most booked spots were San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cancun, Mexico; and Mexico City, Mexico.

Chicago's O'Hare airport was also ranked among the busiest travel hubs for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Hopper.

The travel app ranked O'Hare No. 6 in a list of the top 10 busiest airports nationwide, and is expected to be the most crowded Wednesday at 8 p.m. with an anticipated 85,000 travelers.

Here's where other airports ranked in the list:

  1. Atlanta, Georgia (ATL)
  2. Dallas, Texas (DFW)
  3. Los Angeles (LAS)
  4. Denver, Colorado (DEN)
  5. Miami, Florida (MIA)
  6. Chicago (ORD)
  7. Orlando, Florida (MCO)
  8. Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS)
  9. New York City (JFK)
  10. Phoenix (PHX)

Based on the latest data, the best deals for domestic trips from Chicago are to Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Knoxville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In terms of international travel, the best deals were from Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Lima, Peru; Frankfurt, Germany; and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

With more Chicagoans planning to travel outside of Illinois for the Thanksgiving holiday this week, how can you search coronavirus metrics for other states across the U.S.?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a way to easily search the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations, vaccinations and level of transmission, among other metrics, nationwide.

To find the latest COVID-related information from the CDC, click here and select a state. There is also an option to search within the state by county or metro area.

Just two days before Thanksgiving, Chicago added two states back onto the city's travel advisory, bringing the number of states on the warning list to 40 states and one territory.

Connecticut and Maryland both returned to the "orange category" under the travel advisory, meaning unvaccinated travelers traveling from or returning from those states will need to test and quarantine upon their arrival to the city.

California, Guam and North Carolina could come off the list next week, the city said.

As of Tuesday, every U.S. state or territory except for Alabama, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and the Virgin Islands are on the advisory.  

Chicago Predicted to be One of the Worst Corridors for Thanksgiving Road Travel

States are added to the advisory's "orange list" when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the "yellow" list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

"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,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement last week. “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.” 

The city has updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from such locations should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

"We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID," Arwady said. "If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who's traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms."

This week's update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago rose to 567 per day - up 15% from the 494 seen the previous week.

That figure is much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 13% from the previous week, but deaths increased by 24% since last week, per the city's data. The positivity rate in testing rose to 3% this week, up from 2.5% the week prior.

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