Chicago quarantine: Puerto Rico added to COVID-19 travel order

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago has added Puerto Rico to its its COVID-19 travel quarantine order on Tuesday.

The move came over concern about the rising number of cases in Puerto Rico, and while it is disappointing for many in Humboldt Park, it also does not come as any surprise.

Puerto Rico the only place being added this week, meaning anyone traveling to there from Chicago must self quarantine for 14 days after returning.

Joann Velasquez said she had hoped to go visit her favorite aunt this summer.

"Well my aunt tells me that it is just so bad, it's spreading and spreading. When they go get tested there's not enough tests, they closed down early. She said it's just a mess," Velasquez said.

Chicago's daily average number of cases is now about 10 per 100,000 people, with 15 being the threshold for when states get added to the travel order.

On Tuesday, the city announced three states are moving in the right direction.

"Just this week, they've dropped below 15," said Dr. Allison Arwady. "And so if next week, they continue that progress, and they have a second week of being below 15. Next week, we hope to announce Iowa, Kansas and Utah would come off the travel order list."

Also on Tuesday, restaurants in the Fulton Market neighborhood sent a letter to the mayor and alderman asking that restaurants be held to different standards than bars, and be allowed to go back to 10 people per table, instead of the restriction of six recently imposed by the city.

"I don't want to see any bars go out of business, I don't want to see any restaurants go out of business, but I also can't be held responsible as a restauranteur following all the mandates for bars that didn't," said Phillip Walters, owner B Hospitality Restaurants.

Arwady said there is not a chance of that happening with the cases in Chicago currently on the rise.

"When you are at a restaurant indoors by definition pretty much the people at your table have just come into your bubble because you have to take your mask off," Arwady said.

Arwady also encouraged people to limit their social interactions, and said the biggest way the virus is being spread these days is in households and in gatherings like parties.

Last week, Chicago added Wisconsin to its list, along with Missouri, North Dakota and Nebraska.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said states on the travel order are seeing new cases at a rate of greater than 15 per 100,000 per day or higher.

She said Chicago is seeing about 270 cases a day, which is an average of about 10 cases per-100,000 people.

Dr. Allison Arwady gives update on Chicago travel order


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CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady gives an update on COVID-19 in Chicago



States that are seeing above 10 cases per-100,000 but below 15 include Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky and those states could be added next week if cases continue to increase.

Meanwhile, Iowa, Kansas and Utah have seen their rates of new cases dip below 15 per 100,000 and can be removed from the quarantine order next week if they continue to stay below that threshold.

"This is not a political decision, this is based purely on the data and the placed where the outbreak is in bad control and significantly worse control than here in Chicago," Dr. Arwady said.

Health officials adding so far there have been about five dozen confirmed cases of COVID 19 among people who traveled to states on the order list.

The states and territories currently subject to quarantine are:
-Alabama
-Arkansas
-Arizona
-California
-Florida
-Georgia
-Idaho

-Iowa
-Kansas
-Louisiana
-Mississippi
-Missouri
-Nebraska
-North Carolina
-North Dakota
-Nevada
-Oklahoma
-Puerto Rico
-South Carolina
-Tennessee

-Texas
-Utah
-Wisconsin

RELATED: Chicago quarantine: Wisconsin, 3 other states added to COVID-19 travel order list

Dr. Arwady said the positivity rate in Chicago stands at 4.8%.

"The unfortunate news is that week-after-week-after-week we are adding news cases as this number goes up the risk of having someone with COVID in a given gathering continues to increase," Dr. Arwady said. "The fact that we've gone from under 200 up to 270 and continuing on the way up gives significant concern

Health officials add that the 18-29-year-old age group is still representing the largest group of cases in the city.

Dr. Arwady said households and social gatherings are the biggest factors driving the increase.

"It is ten times the risk of acquiring COVID than any of the other exposures," Dr. Arwady said on household spread.

Health officials saying now is not the time let down you guard down when it comes to social distancing and wearing face masks, even with people you trust.

"The problem is as we're seeing cases increase, the risk is significantly higher and as people are letting down their guard they're out potentially contracting COVID and bringing it back into household," Dr. Arwady said.

Travelers from the states are required to quarantine for 14 days. Essential workers and people who commute from Wisconsin to work in Chicago are exempt. However, they are asked to limit activities to work activities and monitor for any symptoms. Those passing through Wisconsin, stopping for less than 24 hours would not have to quarantine, but day trips for shopping would not be allowed, even if it's just for a few hours.

Violators can be fined $100 - $500 per day, up to a maximum of $7,000. The travel restrictions for Puerto Rico will go into effect on Friday.
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