Chicago to Update Travel Advisory as COVID Cases Continue to Rise

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Chicago is set to update its travel advisory Tuesday, one week after adding five more states and Puerto Rico to the list recommending that anyone entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.

Last week, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Puerto Rico were all added to the list, bringing the total number of states on the advisory to 19, along with two U.S. territories.

The list - updated weekly - now includes: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 

“As COVID cases rise throughout the country, the relationship between COVID and the unvaccinated remains clear,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, the states with the highest COVID case rates also have some of the lowest vaccination rates. The most important thing you can do to help stop the spread of COVID is to get vaccinated.”

Increases in COVID metrics pushed those newly added states over the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people to get onto the "orange" list. Any below that mark are on the "yellow" list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

"Any unvaccinated people traveling from these states and territories are advised to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival. Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine or receive a negative test," CDPH said.

CDPH said last month that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows "COVID case rates have been steadily increasing in other areas of the country."

This week's update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 347 per day - a 46% increase over the previous week.

That figure is also more than 10 times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing earlier this year and last, before vaccines were widely available.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 18% from last week while deaths are up 133%, per the city's data. The positivity rate in testing is up to 3.8% as of Tuesday, an increase from 3.3% last week, which was up each week since it was at 1% a month ago.

“We remain well below our peak rates, but these recent increases are concerning,” Arwady said last month. “But what we have said all along hasn’t changed – if you want to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community, get vaccinated.”

Arwady noted earlier this month that about 99% of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

The travel advisory will be updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.

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