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Tighter Restrictions Could Be Coming For US Travelers, Including Testing And Quarantining Requirements

Locally, officials have said they are keeping a close eye on the variant but don't expect to impose more restrictions in the near future.

Commuters make their way through O'Hare International Airport on May 30, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Tighter restrictions could be coming for people traveling to the United States as the government scrambles to respond to the Omicron variant.

The Biden administration is expected to announce more restrictions and changes Thursday in response to the variant, which is thought to be extremely contagious but which is still being studied.

The changes could include requiring everyone entering the United States to be tested within 24 hours before their flight, regardless of which country they are coming from or if they are vaccinated, according to The Washington Post. Travelers could also be required to get tested three to five days after arriving in the United States.

The measures could also include requiring all travelers, including citizens, to self-quarantine for seven days after arriving in the United States, according to The Washington Post.

People who don’t abide by the restrictions could face fines and other penalties.

Locally, officials have said they are keeping a close eye on the variant but don’t expect to impose more restrictions in the near future.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s health department, said she expects to see Omicron cases detected in Chicago “very, very shortly,” and she’d be “Very surprised” if it’s not already in the city.

But it’s too soon to say how concerned people should be about Omicron, she said Tuesday.

“The question is not can we detect it. The question is what is our response,” she said. “Vaccinating is, by far, the most important thing. Boosters also important … .”

Even without Omicron, Chicago has struggled with its coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks. Cases, positivity rates and deaths have risen sharply as the weather has cooled.

Arwady urged people to get vaccinated and get their booster shot to be protected against the virus.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7.4 million people — or 58.08 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 46,599 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 17,357,231 vaccine doses of the 20,099,125 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.6 million Chicagoans — or 61.2 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 68.4 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Forty-five Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Tuesday.

• At least 26,459 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,973 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 6,119 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,815,994.

• Since Tuesday, 113,848 tests were reported statewide. In all, 39,229,345 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 4.4 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.1 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.6 percent. It was at 5.2 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 470 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 211 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths was reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 6,012 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of less than one person dying per day, down 81 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 727 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 344,427 confirmed cases. An average of 454 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 25 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is down 30 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 3.6 percent, up from 3 percent the week prior.

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