For the second straight week, every U.S. state and territory is on Chicago's travel advisory, the city announced Tuesday.
Last week marked the first week every location was on the city's warning list, but with no states or territories reaching the threshold to be removed, the advisory remained unchanged in its weekly update.
According to the city's health department, it has been nearly a year since the last time every state and territory has been on the travel advisory.
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.
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“If you’re unvaccinated and you travel, you’re taking a huge health risk,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “The most important thing you can do right now – whether you’re planning to travel or not – is to get fully vaccinated and get a booster shot when you are eligible. People are ending up in hospitals every day who didn’t think they’d ever be there – and nearly all of them are unvaccinated. People are dying every day – and overwhelmingly they are unvaccinated.”
Just before the Labor Day holiday last year, the city updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from locations on the advisory should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.
According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:
- Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.
- ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
- In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
- Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
- Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
- If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
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 sat at 4,793 per day, marking a drop from last week's 5,189.
That figure is much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June and now exceeds the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.
Hospitalizations, however, are averaging 187 per day, an increase of 37% in the last week. Deaths are also reporting an increase of 25% in the last week.
The positivity rate in testing dropped to 18.9% this week, down from 21% the week prior.
The travel advisory is updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.