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Chicago’s Travel Advisory Will Now Let People Track COVID Risk By County, Not Just State

The advisory is being updated to align with risk analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows officials to pinpoint counties where COVID-19 is less under control rather than whole states.

People move through Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport on May 9, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is removing seven states from its travel advisory this week — and revamping how it’ll offer travel guidance.

Alabama, California, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon were removed from the list this week, according to a city news release.

The city’s health department has used the advisory to provide travel recommendations to people traveling to and from Chicago, noting states where people would face a higher risk of encountering COVID-19.

The advisory is being updated to align with risk analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allows officials to pinpoint counties where COVID-19 is less under control rather than whole states.

“We definitely want to maintain the travel advisory,” health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference Tuesday. “We think this helps people understand the risk when they travel and know how to be prepared.”

The CDC evaluates a county as low, medium or high risk depending on the number of new COVID-19 cases in that area, as well as what toll COVID-19 is placing on the area’s health care system.

The city will now update its travel advisory on Fridays, showing locals what counties are riskier for COVID-19 and offering guidance about traveling. People can also go to the CDC’s website to search for information about a specific county.

All travelers should check the map so they know if they are going to an area where the COVID-19 risk is low, medium or high, according to the health department.

Here’s the city’s guidance:

Low-Risk Areas

Travelers do not need to take additional action, but they should follow standard guidance related to travel, according to the health department.

Medium-Risk Areas

Travelers should consider wearing a mask when indoors in public places.

High-Risk Areas

All travelers:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public place.
  • People 5 and older who are not fully vaccinated should avoid travel to high-risk counties.
  • All travelers should be fully vaccinated and boosted before traveling.
  • Travelers should watch themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. They should isolate and get tested if they develop symptoms.
  • Travelers should consider packing an at-home COVID-19 test so they can use it if they develop symptoms.
  • All travelers should bring a mask with them.

Unvaccinated travelers:

  • Unvaccinated Chicagoans who are 5 or older and go to a high-risk county should stay home and quarantine for five days after returning to Chicago.
  • Those travelers should also take a COVID-19 test three to five days after returning to Chicago. If it’s positive, they should stay home and follow CDC guidance.

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Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: