CHICAGO (CBS) —  As COVID cases surge throughout the country, 43 states, and Puerto Rico, are now on Chicago’s travel order, starting Friday November 13.

(Credit: CDPH)

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The head of Chicago’s Department Of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady, said the travel order covers so many states, the city has broken down the travel order states into colored regions from yellow, meaning avoid non-essential travel to red, which means to completely avoid that area.

*Yellow: States with a rolling 7-day average less than 15 cases/day/100k residents. No quarantine or pre-arrival test required. Maintain strict masking, social distancing and avoidance of in-person gatherings.

*Orange: States have a rolling 7-day average between 15 cases/day/100k residents and the Chicago rolling 7-day average (currently 60) 14-day quarantine OR pre-arrival negative test no more than 72 hours before arrival in Chicago with strict masking, social distancing and avoidance of in-person gatherings.

*Red: States have a higher 7-day rolling average of positive cases/day/100k Chicago residents. 14-day quarantine.

The red states near Illinois include Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. The states in the yellow zone are California, Hawaii, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

“Our average number of new Chicago cases per day is at 1,686,” said Dr. Arwardy. “But let’s go back just one month. One month ago in Chicago. We were adding 426 new cases per day.”

Arwady said despite the information that’s put out by the city’s health department and the Illinois Department of Public Health, the number of COVID cases continues to surge and she said she’s upset as to why people aren’t wearing masks and taking social distance measures seriously.

“I’ve been very frustrated by the way something as easy as wearing a mask has taken on a political overtone in this country,” Arwady said. “In some ways, whether people make the decision that is the best for them, that is the best for their family, comes down to whether they think we’re up here saying this for fun, or we’re up here saying this because we care about them, and about the future of Chicago.”

The doctor added that despite misinformation about wearing masks, the face coverings are effective in fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

“Having a mask on drops your risk 85%. It’s not 100%. It’s 85%. And my hope is that people will make small sacrifices, and we think of them as sacrifices, but small changes in their own lives. But I don’t have all the answers in terms of how to convince people to change their behaviors.”

Arwady said people should reconsider their travel plans for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday and avoid the places in red as COVID-19 cases there continue to go up with no information that those states will soon see a downward trend.

She asked that while still in office that President Donald Trump give the coronavirus better attention and to encourage the American people to understand the dangers of COVID-19.

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“I would love to see President Trump to get serious about the science of COVID,” Arwady said.

“I would love to see him, is it too much to imagine, pulling together members of his current (COVID-19) task force for any incoming task force. I would love to see him be able to celebrate the vaccine that his administration played a major role in getting us this far in terms of funding it, and in celebrating that we are coming closer to a vaccine. Let’s frame this around ‘how do we stay as safe as we can on the way to getting there?’  So I really think there’s the possibility here. He has another two months in office.”


Last week there was no update to the travel order because of the general election.

The Chicago Department of Public Health didn’t add or remove any states from its emergency travel order, after warning last week that Michigan could soon be added to the list.

The order requires people to self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving from states and territories seeing high COVID-19 case counts.

The news comes as the state surpassed 500,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, after setting another new record for daily cases on Tuesday, as well as reaching a new high for testing, with more than 100,000 virus tests in the past day.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a record 12,623 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, topping the old daily case record of 12,438 reported on Saturday. Illinois has now reported at least 10,000 new cases for five days in a row.

Chicago’s quarantine mandate requires people to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days when they arrive in the city from states and territories considered to be COVID hotspots, including visitors to Chicago, and residents who are returning from travel to one of the states.

People who regularly travel to border states on the quarantine list for work or school are exempt from the travel order, but should only travel to those states for work or school purposes. Otherwise, if they take part in any non-work or non-school activities while in a state on the list, they are subject to the quarantine order.

Exceptions also apply for those leaving home for medical treatment, or parental shared custody reasons; and for people for whom self-quarantine “is not possible, practicable or advisable.”

Otherwise, people who travel to states on the list, even if for less than 24 hours, still need to quarantine upon returning unless deemed an essential worker, a commuting student, or for one of the other exceptions.

While people who violate the quarantine order can face fines of $100-$500 per day, up to $7,000, enforcement is almost entirely on the honor system. The city has said officials are focusing on encouraging people to change their travel patterns, and to delay trips unless they’re absolutely necessary.

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