July 19, 2021 -- After several weeks without COVID-19 travel restrictions, Chicago restarted its emergency travel order on Friday as cases continue to increase across the country.
Unvaccinated travelers from Arkansas and Missouri must provide a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before arriving in Chicago or quarantine for 10 days after arrival. Both states have surpassed the city’s threshold of 15 daily infections per 100,000 residents.
More states may be added soon if they pass the milestone, including Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, The Associated Press reported. COVID-19 cases also are increasing in central and southern Illinois.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and this only goes to show that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must all remain vigilant against it,” Allison Arwady, MD, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
“That means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public settings if you are not fully vaccinated,” she said.
No states have been on Chicago’s travel restriction list since mid-May, according to NBC 5. The list is updated every two weeks, and new restrictions go into effect on Fridays.
In Chicago, daily case rates have been highest among residents under age 40, and about a third of hospitalizations were in people under 40, Arwady wrote in a Twitter post on Thursday. Unvaccinated people make up 97% of current COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, she added.
“These are preventable,” she wrote. “We have three vaccines that greatly reduce the risk of COVID and severe outcomes from COVID – including variants.”
Cases have increased nationwide due to the rapid spread of the contagious Delta variant, which is now the dominant strain worldwide and accounts for 58% of new cases in the U.S.
The states with the highest uptick in cases — Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada — also have below-average vaccination rates.
“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday during a press briefing by the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk,” she said. “And communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”