The Chicago Department of Public Health on Friday urged COVID-19 precautions in areas of the country considered medium or high risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it unveiled new travel advisory recommendations to align with federal guidelines.
CDPH issued a news release, explaining it adjusted Chicago's travel advisory to match the CDC's county level guidance, which gives more weight to hospitalizations and hospital capacity, rather that strictly case numbers. Under the new protocols, counties are either considered low, medium or high risk for COVID transmission.
In medium risk areas, people should "consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces," according to health officials. While in communities deemed high risk, people are advised to wear a mask in such settings.
Those who are age 5 or older and aren't up to date with COVID vaccinations should avoid traveling to areas listed as high risk, according to the recommendations. Unvaccinated individuals who decide to travel should follow CDC guidance upon returning to Chicago, which includes quarantining for 5 days following travel and taking a COVID test 3 to 5 days after returning.
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According to the latest update of the CDC's county-by-county community levels map, 8.9% of counties in Puerto Rico and the U.S. have been categorized as medium or high risk.
Most states have low COVID-19 levels, according to CDPH, but some states, such as Montana and Kentucky, have large clusters of medium-to-high COVID-19 levels.
Parts of the Midwest are experiencing troublesome metrics.
Six Michigan counties, all in the upper northwest portion of the state around the Traverse City area, have high COVID-19 levels, as shown on the CDC's map.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, previously said that even vaccinated individuals should keep an eye on the city’s COVID transmission maps for the rest of the U.S., and should bring their cards with them when they travel.
“There are places that will continue to require it,” she said. “I would encourage you when you travel to pop one of those at-home COVID test packs right in your bag.”
All travelers are encouraged to be up-to-date on COVID vaccinations, and to self-monitor for symptoms of the virus. Chicagoans are also encouraged to pack an at-home COVID test for use if symptoms develop while traveling.