Chicago COVID-19 travel order updated with Calif. NY, NH added to orange category; vaccine could available before end of 2020, officials say

ByMichelle Gallardo, Rob Elgas, and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Chicago updates COVID-19 travel order
Dr. Alison Arwady provides an update on Chicago's COVID-19 Travel Quarantine Order.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago updated its COVID-19 travel quarantine order on Tuesday, the city's top doctor suggested that a coronavirus vaccine would be available before the end of 2020.

"We've been ready and we are ready to start COVID-19 vaccine administration when the trials are done," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner.

Under Chicago's vaccine plan, thousands of the first doses would go to frontline healthcare workers immediately. First responders and long-term care facility residents would also have priority.

"We are working with our hospitals. We are enrolling them to vaccine providers. We are getting additional information from them on their healthcare worker numbers and who may fit in those higher risk categories," said Dr. Candice Robinson, CDPH medical director.

Chicago's vaccine shortage and distribution plan has already been well crafted with expanded capacity for different temperatures, a plan to receive multiple vaccines and expanded hours and services at city clinics to distribute doses.

"We actually used our flu clinics as an opportunity to practice for our COVID-19 vaccine administration," Robinson said.

Chicago's top doctors are hopeful that a vaccine will be available before the end of 2020.

Three states were added to the orange category in Chicago's updated travel quarantine order.

The update is the first since last week the order was revamped with a new color-coded system.

As part of the new system, states are placed in three categories: red, orange and yellow.

On Tuesday, California, New Hampshire and New York moved from the yellow category to the orange category.

States in the yellow category have a rolling seven-day average of under 15 cases per-day per-100,000 residents. No quarantine or pre-arrival test is required.

States in the orange category have a rolling seven-day average of between 15 cases per-day per-100,000 residents and the Chicago rolling seven-day average, currently 60 cases per-day per-100,000. A 14-day quarantine or a pre-arrival test of no more than 72 hours before arrival is required.

States in the red category have a rolling seven-day average of cases per-day per-100,000 residents above Chicago's rate. A 14-day quarantine is mandatory.

The new system took effect last Friday.

Only three states are in the yellow category (no requirements): Maine, Hawaii, Vermont

However, during a travel order update on Tuesday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said non-essential travel is still not recommended to yellow states.

Chicago updated its COVID-19 travel quarantine order on Tuesday, with three states added to the orange category.

Arwady said COVID-19 is surging across the entire United States.

"If you've not cancelled your Thanksgiving travel plans, now is the time to be having that really difficult conversation with friends and family," Arwady said.

In Chicago alone, she said 125,000 to 180,000 people have an active infection of COVID-19 right now. That translates to 1 in 15 Chicagoans.

That number takes into account not just positive tests, but estimates of how many people are infected, but remain undiagnosed.

And while that is an estimate, officials say Chicago now has 3 times the positivity rate, 3 times the number of hospitalizations and 3 times the number of people on ventilators.

"It's why we recommend that you not have anybody over into your home right now that doesn't need to be there," said Arwady.

Meanwhile, the Shedd Aquarium announced it will voluntarily close starting Tuesday at 5 p.m. through at least January 2. It's not clear yet, whether any other of the city's museums will follow.

RELATED: Shedd Aquarium announces closure through end of 2020, set to reopen January 2021

"We've been told our guidelines are the right ones, but its a complicated time for families to make decisions and to make the decision to close for a period of time when people really should be staying home, it felt right for the aquarium. It felt true to who we are. We were one of the first to close the last time. And it felt like the right time to do it," said Meghan Curran of the Shedd Aquarium.

-34 orange states and Puerto Rico (must quarantine or receive a pre-arrival negative test result): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

-12 red states (must quarantine): Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.