Chicago’s travel advisory will be different starting Friday, as city officials announced changes to the structure of the advisory.
Following changes made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city said it will instead classify counties and locations as low, medium or high risk, based on data provided by the CDC. Residents should check the map for the latest information before travelling.
“Chicago travel advisories were always intended to be used by Chicagoans as a tool to help make informed travel decisions based on their individual and local risk of COVID-19,” the commissioner said. of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady. “As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, it is important for us to remember that all risks are local – and by aligning with the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels, we are able to better recommend the prevention steps that correspond to the specific risk.”
The CDC late last month unveiled a county-by-county community-level map and announced a metric change that gives more weight to hospitalizations and hospital capacity instead of case counts.
In medium-risk areas, people at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider about whether they should wear a mask and take other precautions, according to the CDC. For communities deemed high risk, people should wear masks in public indoor spaces, including schools, and take extra precautions if there is a risk of serious illness.
Prior to the upcoming change, states were added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID measures exceed the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Anyone below that mark is on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.
City officials said starting Friday, Chicago’s travel advisory would be updated every Friday to align with the CDC’s release of updated community-level COVID-19 data.
“ALL travelers should check the map to know if the areas you are traveling in are low, medium or high risk for COVID-19,” the health department said in a statement.
As part of the changes, areas shaded green, or low risk, will require no action from travelers. People in yellow or at medium risk should consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, the guidelines say.
But for high risk, the CDPH suggests the following:
- Wear a mask in indoor public places.
- Travelers aged 5 or older who are not up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines are advised to avoid travel to high-risk (orange) counties.
Unvaccinated Chicagoans 5 years of age or older traveling to high-risk counties (orange), upon returning to Chicago, are urged to follow CDC guidelines:
- Stay home and self-quarantine for 5 days after travel
- Take a COVID test 3-5 days after returning – if positive, stay home and follow CDC advice.
ALL travelers are also invited to:
- Make sure you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines (including boosters) before any planned travel.
- Self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19; self-isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- Consider taking a COVID test home with you in case you develop symptoms while traveling.
Officials noted that despite relaxed mitigations across the country, the TSA’s mask mandate remains in place for public transportation and businesses can choose to require masks as well.
All counties in Illinois were listed in the low category on the CDC’s COVID-19 community-level map Thursday, meaning masks can be safely removed.
Despite changes to the advisory, the health department announced that seven additional states had been removed on Tuesday.
Alabama, California, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon all fell below the warning level threshold.
Last week, 16 states were removed from travel advisories as the spring break rush began.
The city noted that “given the timeline for approval of vaccinations for children under 5,” children 5 and under are exempt from the advisory, but only if the adults they are traveling with are vaccinated. .
International travelers will be subject to US Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which require all travelers, regardless of vaccination status or nationality, to obtain a negative COVID-19 viral test no later than one day before travel in the USA.