City’s quar­an­tine or­der for trav­el­ers ar­riv­ing from hot spots takes ef­fect

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MADE­LINE KENNEY, STAFF RE­PORTER mken­ney@sun­times.com | @MadKen­ney

Start­ing Mon­day, any­one who is trav­el­ing or re­turn­ing to Chicago from states that have seen a spike in COVID-19 in­fec­tion rates is re­quired to quar­an­tine for two weeks un­der a travel ad­vi­sory is­sued by Mayor Lori Light­foot last week.

The pub­lic health or­der, is­sued Thurs­day evening by Dr. Al­li­son Ar­wady, who leads the Chicago Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health, ap­plies to any­one com­ing to Chicago from one of these 15 des­ig­nated states where COVID-19 cases con­tinue to rise at an alarm­ing rate: Alabama, Arkansas, Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, Florida, Ge­or­gia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi, North Carolina, Ne­vada, South Carolina, Ten­nessee, Texas and Utah.

Here’s what you need to know about Chicago’s travel ad­vi­sory:

Why is the city im­pos­ing a travel ad­vi­sory?

Light­foot is­sued the pub­lic health or­der in re­sponse to the rise in COVID-19 in­fec­tions pri­mar­ily in the South and West regions of the U.S. The hope is this mea­sure — which is sim­i­lar to travel ad­vi­sories the gov­er­nors of New York, New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut have im­posed — will help con­tain the spread of the virus in the city, which en­tered Phase 4 of its re­open­ing plan June 26, with mu­se­ums and zoos, per­for­mance venues and more open­ing with ad­di­tional safety pre­cau­tions.

Who’s cov­ered by the ad­vi­sory?

The city’s or­der ap­plies to any­one ar­riv­ing in Chicago — whether they are an out-of-state vis­i­tor or re­turn­ing city res­i­dent — who has spent more than 24 hours in one of 15 states that has seen a surge in cases over the last few weeks.

The city said it will up­date this list every Tues­day start­ing July 14. States will be added to the list if they have an in­fec­tion rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 res­i­dents on a seven-day rolling av­er­age. And states that fall be­low that thresh­old will be re­moved.

When will the travel ad­vi­sory end?

That re­mains un­clear. The city said the or­der will be en­forced un­til fur­ther no­tice, and any changes will be based on pub­lic health of­fi­cials’ rec­om­men­da­tions.

What hap­pens if a per­son from a flagged state doesn’t fol­low the or­der?

Though it’s un­clear how the or­der will be en­forced, vi­o­la­tors are sub­ject to fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000, the city said.

If a per­son tested neg­a­tive for COVID-19 and hasn’t de­vel­oped any symp­toms, would they still have to quar­an­tine for the full two weeks?

In short, yes.

The city said in­di­vid­u­als com­ing from hot­bed states are en­cour­aged to self-quar­an­tine for two weeks even if they have tested neg­a­tive for the virus or haven’t shown any symp­toms be­cause they can be­come con­ta­gious up to 14 days af­ter their last ex­po­sure.

Are there any ex­cep­tions?

Peo­ple who travel for “es­sen­tial” work are ex­empt, but the city urges them to “avoid pub­lic spa­ces as much as pos­si­ble.” That in­cludes “any state, lo­cal and fed­eral of­fi­cials and em­ploy­ees trav­el­ing in their of­fi­cial ca­pac­i­ties on gov­ern­ment busi­ness, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice.”

There are some ex­cep­tions for per­sonal travel, too, in­clud­ing peo­ple who travel for med­i­cal care and shared parental cus­tody. The travel ad­vi­sory also doesn’t ap­ply to peo­ple who passed through flagged states dur­ing the course of travel as long as they didn’t stay longer than 24 hours. This can in­clude driv­ers on short road trips and peo­ple who have con­nect­ing flights through hot­bed states.

As for in­ter­na­tional trav­el­ers, of­fi­cials say they’re also ex­empt, though they’re en­cour­aged to fol­low Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion guide­lines.

ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES FILE

Dr. Al­li­son Ar­wady

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