City hints to start tick­et­ing vi­o­la­tors as list grows to 22 states, in­clud­ing Mis­souri, Ne­braska and North Dakota

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN, CITY HALL REPORTER fspiel­man@suntimes.com | @fspiel­man

Four more states — Wis­con­sin, Mis­souri, Ne­braska and North Dakota — are be­ing added to Chicago’s 14-day travel quar­an­tine and com­pli­ance will no longer be purely vol­un­tary. Tick­et­ing is com­ing.

With 22 states now on the list, Chicago Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Al­li­son Arwady is up­ping the ante by threat­en­ing tick­ets with fines rang­ing from $100-to-$500-a-day and a max­i­mum of $7,000.

“The pri­mary goal is ed­u­ca­tion here, but we have the abil­ity to en­force and do want peo­ple to un­der­stand that we’re se­ri­ous about this. … Where they are putting oth­ers at risk and not abid­ing by the re­quired quar­an­tine — par­tic­u­larly if they’re flaunt­ing that — we have the abil­ity to … write tick­ets,” Arwady said in a con­fer­ence call with City Hall re­porters.

Tick­ets will be is­sued pri­mar­ily dur­ing the course of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the con­tact trac­ing that fol­lows, she said.

“If we iden­tify peo­ple who have COVID who have had con­tacts with folks who have trav­eled from set­tings that they should have been un­der quar­an­tine at the time of ex­po­sure, that would war­rant a ticket,” Arwady said.

“Sim­i­larly, we’ve been re­ceiv­ing some in­for­ma­tion about even city em­ploy­ees who may not have ap­pro­pri­ately abided by quar­an­tine. In ad­di­tion to any dis­ci­pline, we may elect to im­pose a fine. … And then, fi­nally, there are some so­cial me­dia ex­am­ples where peo­ple are fla­grantly post­ing their so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.”

All four new states of­fi­cially fall un­der the quar­an­tine or­der start­ing Friday.

Trav­el­ers en­ter­ing or re­turn­ing to Chicago from those states or the other 18 must quar­an­tine for 14 days from the “time of their last con­tact” in the pro­hib­ited state.

The or­der does not apply to “es­sen­tial work­ers” and em­ploy­ees com­mut­ing to jobs in Wis­con­sin. That would in­clude the Cubs trav­el­ing to Mil­wau­kee to play the Brew­ers and to St. Louis to play the Car­di­nals or the Sox play­ing the Roy­als in Kansas City. Also ex­empt: those trav­el­ing for med­i­cal care or “parental shared cus­tody.”

But those peo­ple still must fol­low stan­dard pre­cau­tions — wear­ing a face mask, main­tain­ing so­cial dis­tance and hand hy­giene.

They also must take ex­tra steps, in­clud­ing: con­fin­ing them­selves to “work-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties,” avoid­ing public spa­ces as much as pos­si­ble and mon­i­tor­ing their tem­per­a­ture and symp­toms.

Arwady said she’s well aware Au­gust is fam­ily va­ca­tion month — even dur­ing a pan­demic — and many Chicagoans of­ten plan trips to the Wis­con­sin Dells or Door County. Among the vis­i­tors: Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has a sum­mer home in Wis­con­sin.

“I know how hard this is … I know that’s dis­ap­point­ing and hard for peo­ple. But it is un­for­tu­nately where we are,” Arwady said.

“The state of Wis­con­sin has not even put a mask re­quire­ment in place. And there’s not a sign that they are turn­ing their out­break around. … There is sig­nif­i­cant risk at this point and, more im­por­tantly, there’s sig­nif­i­cant risk to Chicago when folks do re­turn.”

Arwady ad­vised Chicagoans to ei­ther stay closer to home or head to Michi­gan, which has a “much lower rate” of COVID than Wis­con­sin.

Those who in­sist on go­ing to va­ca­tion homes in Wis­con­sin must be able to work from home on their re­turn, she said.

The gloom-and-doom didn’t end there, even as Arwady re­it­er­ated her de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep Chicago the “most open big city” in the na­tion, as City Hall likes to say.

Asked if she agrees with Pritzker that mask-wear­ing will be re­quired well into next year, the com­mis­sioner strongly agreed — and more.

She ex­pects a vac­cine to be­come avail­able in early 2021. But a full roll-out will likely take a year due to “pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion” is­sues and the vac­cine will “prob­a­bly not be 100% pro­tec­tive,” Arwady said.

Face masks in public and other “mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts to con­trol the spread” will con­tinue to be re­quired.

“We’re plan­ning in the Health Depart­ment in a two-to-three year frame. … And I don’t know that we’ll ever get to a point where COVID will be erad­i­cated, to be per­fectly hon­est.”

Chicago’s pos­i­tiv­ity rate stands at 5.4 per­cent, up from 4.9 per­cent on Mon­day, Arwady said. The num­ber of daily cases stands at 240, up from 229 cases the day be­fore.

The rise con­cerns Arwady, but she doesn’t “get too ex­cited about one day of change.”

It’s when the num­ber of daily cases rises above 400 that alarm bells will go off and a ma­jor roll­back will be re­quired, she said.

“Now is the op­por­tu­nity to do ev­ery­thing we can to get our lo­cal out­break un­der con­trol. This quar­an­tine re­quire­ment is part of that strat­egy.”


DR. AL­LI­SON ARWADY, City Health Com­mis­sioner

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