CHICAGO — A tougher testing requirement for international travelers to the United States kicked in Monday.
The measure — which require travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within a day before their flight’s departure — is meant to limit the spread of the virus’s Omicron variant in the United States. The requirement applies to all people, including American citizens and fully vaccinated people.
The change has caused concern among some travelers, who fear they won’t be able to get a test result in time for a flight. But officials are trying to buy themselves time and limit the potential spread of Omicron to prevent another possible coronavirus surge.
Omicron has already been found in various states, and local officials have said they expect to see it detected in Chicago within days.
The Omicron variant is thought to be extremely contagious, but it is still being studied to determine what risks it could pose.
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. Other spots in the upper Midwest have seen similar upticks.
Chicago is not yet planning more restrictions in response to the variant, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said.
The city and state largely require people to wear masks indoors when in public. Otherwise, most local COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted since vaccines became widespread.
The city has no plans for additional restrictions as of now, Arwady said Thursday. She noted more places, like event venues, might start requiring proof of vaccination on their own accord.
“I have no desire and no plans at this point” to be closing things down, Arwady said at a news conference. “If we had to go there, that would only be in the setting if we were seeing major threats to our health care system.”
• In Illinois, about 7.4 million people — or 58.73 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.
• Across the state, 68,730 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.
• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 17,716,018 vaccine doses of the 20,325,725 provided to them.
• City data shows more than 1.6 million Chicagoans — or 61.7 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 68.8 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.
• Eighty-five Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Friday.
• At least 26,620 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,999 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
• The state reported 19,110 cases since Friday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,854,186.
• Since Friday, 413,534 tests were reported statewide. In all, 40,063,543 tests have been reported in Illinois.
• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 4.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.7 percent Friday.
• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.4 percent. It was at 5.6 percent Friday.
• As of Sunday night, 579 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 256 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.
• In Chicago, three deaths was reported since Friday. There have been at least 6,025 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four people dying per day, a 45 percent increase from last week.
• Chicago has had 2,623 confirmed cases reported since Friday. It’s had a total of 349,774 confirmed cases. An average of 627 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 1 percent from the week prior.
• Testing in Chicago is down 25 percent since a week ago.
• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.1 percent, up from 3.1 percent the week prior.
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