Two nearby states found themselves back on Chicago’s travel advisory list Tuesday as the highly transmissible Delta variant coronavirus rapidly spreads across the country.
Unvaccinated travelers from Missouri and Arkansas are being asked to either get proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before coming to Chicago or quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
Missouri’s and Arkansas’ infection rates have surged in recent weeks, with the uptick pushing the two states back past the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 residents the Chicago Department of Public Health set to determine who should be on the city’s travel advisory list.
Illinois is seeing its own spike, driven largely by a rise in cases in downstate counties with lower vaccination rates and proximity to border states with troubling numbers. Some of the bigger increases in Illinois have been seen in regions bordering Missouri, which has one of America’s lowest vaccination rates and has emerged as the nation’s current epicenter of the pandemic.
With other pockets across the country seeing a rise in cases, five other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also at risk of joining Missouri and Arkansas. Those in danger of passing Chicago’s metric threshold include Nevada, Louisiana, Utah, Wyoming and Florida, the city health officials said.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commission Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday’s news is a reminder that the pandemic is not over yet.
“This only goes to show that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must all remain vigilant against it,” Arwady said in a statement. “That means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public settings if you are not fully vaccinated.”
Also Tuesday, Illinois state health officials reported 578 new coronavirus cases and an additional 12 deaths. That brings the state’s pandemic totals to 1,397,667 cases and 23,336 deaths.
The state’s test positivity rate checked in at 2.1%.
Last Friday, Illinois reported 2,945 new cases over the previous seven days. That represented a 39% increase in average daily cases over the week before, from 303 per day to 420.
More than 6.3 million Illinoisans, or almost 50% of the state’s population, are fully vaccinated.
Arwady noted that almost all new cases, hospitalization and deaths are among unvaccinated people.