"We want to get ahead of this before we see truly a second surge," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
The mayor and Chicago's top doctor issued their warning as three more states were added to Chicago's travel advisory Tuesday.
Florida, Louisiana and Nevada have all been added to the advisory because they surpassed the mark of 15 cases per day per 100,000 residents. The U.S. Virgin Islands have also been added to the list. Missouri and Arkansas, which were added back onto the travel advisory a week ago, remain on the list.
WATCH | Chicago adds 3 more states to travel advisory
The city's emergency COVID-19 travel order was changed to an advisory on June 29. The change was a result of a third consecutive reporting period where no U.S. states or territories has recorded 15 or more COVID cases per day per 100,000 residents.
Unvaccinated people traveling from these states or territories are advised, but not required, to get a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours before arriving in Chicago, or to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
With steady increases in COVID-19 cases in some regions of the United States, we are adding Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and the Virgin Islands to our travel advisory. Missouri and Arkansas remain on the list. pic.twitter.com/VPslLIe6uE— ChiPublicHealth (@ChiPublicHealth) July 20, 2021
Before last week, no states had been in the Orange Tier since May 18, 2021. Any states or territories with fewer than 15 cases per 100,000 residents per day are in the Yellow Tier.
Chicago sounds alarm on rising COVID-19 cases
Chicago's mayor and the city's top doctor are back in a position they hoped they would not be: warning residents of a rise in COVID-19 cases and urging the public to do what they need to protect themselves and their loved ones.
"Knowing what we know about this virus and the delta variant, we wanted to sound the alarm today," Lightfoot said. "It's still real, it's still deadly and it's attacking people who are not vaccinated."
In Chicago, the average number of new cases has gone up to 90. While that is still low, the fear is if more people do not continue to get fully vaccinated, Lightfoot said we could see more restrictions that "infamously defined much of 2020."
"I know a lot of you hoped that COVID was behind us, that you wouldn't see us up here talking again about numbers rising, you wouldn't hear that the positivity is back on the increase," Arwady said. "Unfortunately, that's not the situation that we're in."
Thousands of people will descend upon Chicago next week for a full-capacity Lollapalooza, just as COVID cases creep up again driven by the more contagious delta variant. Because of Lolla vaccination and testing requirements, Lightfoot and Arwady stand by their decision to allow the huge music festival.
"We will be watching that just as we do any other gathering, but I'm more concerned about the many, many people who have chosen not to get the vaccine here in Chicago," Arwady said.
The delta variant has been driving up the number of COVID-19 cases across the country. Chicago health officials said the delta variant cases comprise about 44% of new COVID infections in the city.
"The fact of the matter is we're not seeing an increase among COVID-19 cases, we're seeing an increase among unvaccinated individuals in areas of low vaccination rates," Lightfoot said.
WATCH | Lightfoot warns Chicago zip codes with lowest vaccination rates
Lightfoot said more than 90% of people hospitalized and 95% of COVID deaths are from unvaccinated people. She is sounding her alarm to two Chicago zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates: 60621 and 60633.
"Unvaccinated folks: I'm talking to you. Please, whatever you need to do educate yourself, whatever you need to do to get comfortable," Lightfoot said. "The vaccines are safe."
While the mayor sounds the alarm, the city and Chicago Public Schools are not ready to make decisions on mask requirements for all students. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending all students, including the vaccinated, to wear masks in school.
"There are real operational questions around what it would look like to make that decision we will continue to talk to CPS and they'll be making an announcement," Arwady said.
As a reminder to CPS parents with kids over 12, Arwady said they have until July 26 to get their first shot if they want to be fully vaccinated by start of school.
Free COVID vaccines in Chicago
There are several places to get free vaccines in Chicago Wednesday, including Theodore Roosevelt High School, the Food Pantry at Saint Kevin Catholic Church, the Vaccination Station will be parked at Atlas Senior Center, Plus After School Matters at Millennium Park and Morrill Elementary School.