Chicago Watching Wisconsin With ‘Huge Concern' as State Could be Added to Quarantine List

The city's travel order is evaluated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday

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Chicago health officials are watching Wisconsin "with huge concern" as they warn the state could soon return to the city's quarantine list should their numbers not decline.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city plans to announce Tuesday that if Wisconsin's numbers don't begin to drop, the state will likely be added back onto Chicago's travel order next week.

"If people can avoid travel, we will encourage that," Arwady said, noting that the state saw its highest-ever case counts in recent days.

According to public health data, Wisconsin's average daily case rate has soared in the last week, breaking an all-time record for average cases statewide on Thursday. Meanwhile, the state's positivity rate climbed from 8.3% at the end of August to 14.1% as of Sunday.

As of Monday morning, the daily case average per 100,000 residents reached 19.6.

States are added to the list if they have "a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average." If they fall below that threshold, they could be removed as well.

Wisconsin was first added to that list effective July 31, though the city noted exemptions for some people who worked over the border. It was removed on Aug. 18 as the state's numbers started to decline.

Chicago's travel order, which began on July 6, is evaluated every Tuesday, with any additions taking effect the following Friday.

The states currently included are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Arwady said travelers entering or returning to Chicago from "states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases" will need to quarantine "for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state." Essential workers could be exempt from the quarantine requirement, however, as long as their employer certifies their work in writing.

The order is set to remain in effect until further notice.

New York and New Jersey are also asking visitors from several states, including Illinois, to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Still, outside of Chicago, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state likely won't require residents who travel to and from neighboring states to quarantine for two weeks solely because of that travel.

But Illinois' Department of Public Health on Monday did release a "travel map" indicating which states are a "higher risk" for travelers.

The state's map uses the same criteria as Chicago's travel order for determining the states that are deemed to be an increased risk.

“Travel may increase the chance of becoming infected and spreading COVID-19,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “To help inform residents where they might be at greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19 when they travel, IDPH has launched a map that clearly shows states and other countries where case rates are elevated. While staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, we know that it may not be possible to avoid all travel. We encourage people who are traveling, whether for work or otherwise, to check out the map before making plans.”

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