CHICAGO (CBS) — Most of the United States is now under Chicago’s travel order and the city’s health director is strongly recommending that people not travel right now.
The order requires people to self-quarantine for 14 days when arriving from 46 states and Puerto Rico.
Last week as COVID cases surge throughout the country, 43 states, and Puerto Rico, were on Chicago’s travel order. 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.
“Upon arrival in Chicago, you have a 14 day quarantine speeds that are in orange, which at this point is almost the whole country. Also, the advisory is to avoid travel, but you can either do a 14 day quarantine. Or you can get a negative test result within 72 hours before coming to Chicago, and then while you’re here in those 14 days strict masking social distancing and avoiding in person gatherings,” Arwady said.
She said that because COVID is surging throughout the country, it’s imperative to reset Thanksgiving holiday plans that for many would include groups of people, not all who live together.
“The bottom line: you should not be traveling. And you run the risk of bringing COVID with you if you’re traveling from Chicago, and from really almost across the country,” Arwady said. “People who are traveling are coming from places where COVID is surging. So if you’ve not canceled your Thanksgiving travel plans, now is a good time to be having that really difficult conversation with friends and family.”
Arwady lamented the fact that COVID cases continue to grow in Chicago.
“We are at a point where our number of new cases every 12 days are doubling, or at 2,296 new cases being diagnosed every day in Chicago. That means 12 days from now, by the time we’re in Thanksgiving, we could be talking more than 4,000 cases per day. And that curve has not yet shown any signs of flattening,” Arwady said. “Which is why we’ve needed to put the stay home advisories in place. Which is why we’ve needed to put additional restrictions in place. And it’s why additional restrictions may be coming.
“I asked you please take this seriously. Do the things that you know work. Wearing a face covering whenever you’re leaving your home, washing your hands, keeping that six foot distance,” she said.
Arwady said it isn’t just the COVID case numbers that are surging. The number of those needing to be hospitalized is also skyrocketing.
“We have more than four times as many people with COVID-19 on ventilators in Chicago hospitals as we did in early October. We had just 33 people seriously on ventilators a month ago, and now we’re averaging 100,” she said.
The head of the Chicago Department of Public Health said traditional Thanksgiving gatherings need to be cancelled. That people should only celebrate with people they’re already living with. Arwady said she plans a tele-visit with her family in Michigan. She urges everyone to do the same.
“Please do cancel your traditional Thanksgiving plans. I normally would be traveling to Michigan, seeing my extended friends and family. I love Thanksgiving. This year, I’ll be staying home,” Arwady said. “I’ll be having that celebration, over FaceTime or Zoom. It’s not what I want to do. But it is the right thing to do for myself, for my family. And for Chicago, please make that same decision.”
She said the source of large COVID breakouts continues to be gatherings with friends and family.
“I don’t want my team doing the number of these really sad investigations that we do. Where people get together for birthday parties and funerals and weddings and christenings. These celebratory gatherings more and more and more and more are our significant COVID outbreaks. And I don’t want that to be your Thanksgiving dinner,” Arwady said. “And I don’t want that to happen across Chicago and get us to a point where more than one in 15 Chicago has COVID right now.”
Arwady announced that a COVID vaccine is on the horizon and could be coming to the Chicago area before the end of the year. But she doesn’t want people to think that they will get a vaccine in the coming months and that should preclude them from getting a COVID test or avoiding safety measures.
“I am worried and part of the reason why we started talking about vaccine today is that I think people hear ‘Oh, vaccine is coming. I don’t need to worry anymore.’ But the problem is that even if we’re receiving potentially tens of thousands of doses, even before the end of the year, it is going to be months before we have the amount of vaccine where we start being able to talk about vaccinating hundreds of thousands or 2.7 million Chicagoans and having that available,” she noted.
On Tuesday, Illinois reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19, as hospitalizations from the coronavirus continue to climb across the state.
The Illinois Department of Public health on Tuesday reported 12,601 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, as well as 97 additional deaths. The state is now averaging 12,381 new cases per day over the past week, as cases have surged since early October, when Illinois averaged 2,052 new cases per day during the first seven days of the month.
Arwady said she keeps getting asked about who the Thanksgiving restrictions are aimed towards. She said people tell her that their bubbles are small. But they’re not considering other people’s bubbles.
“We can’t make recommendations that are different for people who have been exceedingly careful. Even people who think I’ve had a very small bubble,” Arwady said. “(People said) ‘I’ve only had four people in my bubble.’ The problem is those four people have also had the people in their bubble and their bubble and their bubble. And with the amount of COVID, we have right now in Chicago, the risk is just really significant that you yourself, could be bringing COVID.”
The head of Chicago’s public health department estimates that based on current data, at least one in 15 Chicagoans have COVID-19.
Earlier on Tuesday, a group of Midwest governors including JB Pritzker united to produce a social media video to encourage people across the region to stay safe heading into the holiday season. The other governors include Eric Holcomb from Indiana, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.
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