Chicago’s Travel Advisory Slated for Update Tuesday – NBC Chicago


Chicago’s travel advisory is set for an update Tuesday, one week after the city removed Connecticut and the District of Columbia from its list.

The removal of the state and territory marked the only two locations to be taken off the city’s travel warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

Previously, the advisory was updated to include every U.S. state.

“I’m happy to say that we do have two states, well technically one state – Connecticut, and then D.C., Washington D.C. – that have now come off the travel advisory,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live last week. “So the rest of the country is still on, but it’s nice to see a little bit of progress. Connecticut is one of the most vaccinated areas, and so hopefully we’ll continue to see states turn yellow on this map.”

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

States and territories currently on the advisory include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  

Just before the Labor Day, the city also updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from such locations should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is down to 414 per day – an 8% decrease over the previous week, according to city data Tuesday.

That figure is still more than 12 times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 50% from the previous week and deaths dropped 3% from the week prior, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing is down to 3% this week, a drop from 3.7% in the last week.

Arwady noted last month that about 99% of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

The travel advisory will be updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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J&J Booster Data, Travel Advisory, Return to School Visits – NBC Chicago


Johnson & Johnson released new data surrounding booster shots of the single-dose coronavirus vaccine, showing they provide a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose. But what will that mean for those who already got their first dose vaccine?

Plus, U.S. Secretary of Education of Miguel Cardona is scheduled to make three stops in Illinois and a “special announcement” at a suburban Chicago school as part of a “Return to School Road Trip.”

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Travel Advisory Set for Update Tuesday

Chicago’s travel advisory is set for an update Tuesday, one week after the city removed Connecticut and the District of Columbia from its list.

The removal of the state and territory marked the only two locations to be taken off the city’s travel warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

“I’m happy to say that we do have two states, well technically one state – Connecticut, and then D.C., Washington D.C. – that have now come off the travel advisory,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live last week. “So the rest of the country is still on, but it’s nice to see a little bit of progress. Connecticut is one of the most vaccinated areas, and so hopefully we’ll continue to see states turn yellow on this map.”

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

US Education Secretary to Make 3 Stops in Illinois, ‘Special Announcement’

U.S. Secretary of Education of Miguel Cardona is scheduled to make three stops in Illinois Tuesday as part of a “Return to School Road Trip,” with a “special announcement” expected during one of the events.

Cardona will first visit Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine for what he and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker say will be a “special announcement,” though further details on what it might be have not yet been released. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will also be attendance.

Cardona will also tour a health center in Cicero administering COVID-19 vaccinations and Chicago State University, where he will host a roundtable discussion on “the future of predominantly Black institutions and equity in education.”

The bus tour taking place this week aims to “highlight schools and communities that have safely welcomed students back to in-person learning,” according to a release from the U.S. Department of Education.

Read more here.

J&J Says 2nd Dose of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Boosts Protection

Johnson & Johnson released data showing that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a strong immune response months after people receive a first dose.

J&J said in statement Tuesday that it ran two early studies in people previously given its vaccine and found that a second dose produced an increased antibody response in adults from age 18 to 55. The study’s results haven’t yet been peer-reviewed.

Read more here.

Chicago-Area Doctors Express Hope After Pfizer Says COVID Vaccine Safe for Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer says it’s ready to seek approval from the FDA to give its coronavirus vaccine to kids ages 5-to-11, and Chicago area doctors are hailing that news as an important step forward in finally stamping out the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been anticipating this. We’re really excited about it. Waiting for the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) to go in before we can look at the final data,” said Dr. Frank Belmonte,Chief Medical Officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

After clinical trials involving more than 2,268 children, age 5 to 11, Pfizer and BioNTech say the vaccine showed “robust neutralizing antibody responses,” and that research shows that it is safe for children to take.

The clinical trial consisted of a two-dose regimen, 21 days apart, with children in the younger age group getting a smaller dose of vaccine than what’s been authorized for individuals ages 12 and up.

COVID Vaccine for Children Under 12: Pfizer’s Latest Update, Timing and More

Pfizer’s latest announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon marked a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters. But when could that happen?

Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press the companies aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.

Earlier this month, FDA chief Dr. Peter Marks told the AP that once Pfizer turns over its study results, his agency would evaluate the data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” to decide if the shots are safe and effective enough for younger kids.

The timeline follows earlier predictions from health care experts who said authorization could come this fall for kids under 12.

Read more.

FDA Approval, Kids, Boosters and More: Which COVID Vaccine is Best for You?

From booster shots to FDA approval and emergency use authorization to efficacy against the delta variant and more, how do the COVID vaccines compare to each other and which is best for you?

There are various reasons why someone might choose a particular vaccine, but according to medical experts, the most important thing is getting vaccinated.

Still, it’s a question many ask as they prepare for their vaccination.

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection, but certain factors could determine which vaccine you are eligible to receive.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Works in Kids Ages 5 to 11

Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon — a key step toward beginning vaccinations for youngsters.

The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But with kids now back in school and the extra-contagious delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.

For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now. Yet after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press.

The kid dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience, he said.

Read more here.

Cook County Health Officials to Discuss Booster Shots

Cook County officials are set to hold a press conference Monday to “discuss booster shots, the Trust Us vaccine ad campaign, and provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Cook County.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha, CCH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claudia Fegan and Cook County Department of Public Health Co-leads Dr. Kiran Joshi and Dr. Rachel Rubin will be among those speaking at the press conference, scheduled for 9 a.m.

Watch it live in the player above.

FDA Panel’s Decision to Reject COVID Booster Shot for Broad Use Explained

A Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts overwhelmingly rejected a plan Friday to give Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots across the board, but instead agreed to distribute extra doses to people 65 and up as well as those at high risk of severe illness.

The twin votes represented a heavy blow to the Biden administration’s sweeping effort, announced a month ago, to shore up nearly all Americans’ protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Members voted against that recommendation to give a third shot of Pfizer’s vaccine to individuals age 16 and up, citing concerns about the level of evidence showing the boosters are safe for younger people. 

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened and why.

Where to Find Rapid, Drive-Up and Appointment-Free COVID Tests Near Chicago

With increased COVID-19 testing across Illinois, more residents have been searching for convenient ways to receive a coronavirus test in the Chicago area.

The Illinois Department of Public Health provides community-based testing sites, which are open to all residents regardless of symptoms and do not require appointments.

Here are the locations in the Chicago area.

Coronavirus by the Numbers: More Than 200 COVID Outbreaks Reported in Illinois Schools

More than 200 coronavirus outbreaks have been reported at schools across Illinois, with several involving more than a dozen cases at educational institutions, according to statewide data.

The latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health show 206 outbreaks are active at Illinois schools as of Friday, including 26 in Cook County alone.

Read more here.

Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?

With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.

Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.



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1 Region Has No Available ICU Beds, How Chicago Hospitals Treat COVID – NBC Chicago


A health care region in Illinois, covering nearly two dozen of the state’s 102 counties, has no intensive care unit beds available.

Plus, NBC 5 took a deeper look into treatment options for COVID patients at Chicago hospitals and the policies on the use of a controversial drug.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Southern Illinois Health Care Region Has Zero ICU Beds Available Amid COVID Surge: IDPH

A health care region in southern Illinois that covers 20 of the state’s 102 counties has zero intensive care units beds available as of Tuesday, posing a significant issue for a region that’s been hard hit by a surge in COVID cases.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Region 5, located in the southern tip of the state, currently has zero of its 88 staffed intensive care units available.

Read more here.

Spotlight Shines on How Chicago Hospitals are Treating COVID-19

Following the death of a Chicago COVID patient at the center of a debate surrounding the use of the drug ivermectin, NBC 5 is looking into treatment methods currently being used in local hospitals.

Ivermectin is FDA approved to treat some infections caused by parasites but has not been approved for use in preventing or treating COVID-19, which is a virus caused by SARS-CoV-2.

Here’s a look at the treatment options currently being used.

With Eviction Ban Ending Soon, Illinoisans Rely On Rental Assistance To Fend Off Homelessness

It’s been said before, but this time it is likely for real: An end to the ban on residential evictions, put in place across the state of Illinois due to the coronavirus pandemic, is near.

After the U.S. Supreme Court shot down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide ban on evictions, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced earlier this month that the current statewide ban — the only thing standing between countless Illinois tenants and possible homelessness — will now end Oct. 3.

This has sent some tenants and landlords scrambling to apply for federal assistance funding in the final hour.

Read more here.

Chicago’s Top Doctor Addresses Vaccine Questions Sparked by Nicki Minaj Tweet

A tweet from Nicki Minaj sparked questions and concerns from many, spreading what experts say was misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine.

Since COVID vaccinations began, experts have sought to debunk certain claims about the vaccine and fertility and pregnancy.

But on Monday, Minaj tweeted that her cousin in Trinidad, where the singer is from, “won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen.”

Chicago’s top doctor addressed Minaj’s tweet directly during a Facebook Live Tuesday.

Read more here.

Connecticut, D.C. Removed From Chicago’s Travel Advisory

Connecticut and the District of Columbia were removed from Chicago’s travel advisory, city officials announced Tuesday, marking the only locations to not be listed under the “orange” category of the travel guidance.

Last week, the advisory was updated to include every U.S. state, making Vermont the final location to be added to the city’s warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

In its previous update, city officials noted that two states – New Hampshire and Connecticut – as well as the District of Columbia, saw their case rates fall below the threshold, but they were not yet removed from the advisory as they needed to keep their levels low for two consecutive weeks.

New Hampshire remained on the list Tuesday, however.

Read more here.

Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?

With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.

Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.



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Governor Says Metrics Show Signs of Flattening, Travel Advisory Update – NBC Chicago


Gov. J.B. Pritzker expressed optimism as the state’s COVID metrics begin to show signs they may be starting to “flatten out.”

Meanwhile, officials announced changes to the city’s travel advisory as part of its weekly update after last week’s report indicated two states were near removal from the list.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Connecticut, D.C. Removed From Chicago’s Travel Advisory

Connecticut and the District of Columbia were removed from Chicago’s travel advisory, city officials announced Tuesday, marking the only locations to not be listed under the “orange” category of the travel guidance.

Last week, the advisory was updated to include every U.S. state, making Vermont the final location to be added to the city’s warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

In its previous update, city officials noted that two states – New Hampshire and Connecticut – as well as the District of Columbia, saw their case rates fall below the threshold, but they were not yet removed from the advisory as they needed to keep their levels low for two consecutive weeks.

New Hampshire remained on the list Tuesday, however.

Read more here.

Pritzker ‘Hopeful’ as COVID Cases, Hospitalizations Show Signs of ‘Flattening Out’ in Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that COVID numbers in the state may be beginning to “flatten out,” and that he is “hopeful” about the direction the state is heading in.

Pritzker spoke to media Monday about the COVID numbers, which had previously caused the state to re-institute a mask mandate for indoor spaces, even for vaccinated residents.

While the governor did not say when residents could expect the new mask order to be rescinded, he did say that several key metrics, including cases and hospitalizations, are starting to show signs of flattening out.

“It’s certainly heartening to see as I have that hospitalizations are not going up,” he said. “That’s a very important indication that maybe things have flattened out.”

Read more here.

COVID Metrics: Coronavirus Vaccination Rates Decline in Illinois After Summer Upswing

After a run of increased vaccinations across the state, likely caused by concerns over a delta variant-driven surge in COVID cases, vaccination rates are rapidly declining, decreasing by more than half in the last 10 days.

On Sept. 1, the state was averaging more than 40,000 new COVID vaccinations a day over a seven-day period. In just 10 days, that number has been more than cut in half, dropping to 19,102 average vaccine doses administered per day, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

See the latest COVID data for Illinois.

Does the COVID Vaccine Affect Fertility? Here’s What Chicago’s Top Doctor Says

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates its guidance for pregnant women surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, questions have surfaced regarding the vaccine’s effect on fertility.

All three vaccines being used in the U.S. have shown no impacts, according to Chicago’s top doctor.

As reported earlier this year, some people who menstruate saw changes to their periods after getting vaccinated, but Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said there have been no signs of any long-lasting symptoms.

Read more here.

FDA Official Hopeful 5- to 11-Year-Olds Can Get COVID Vaccine Before Start of 2022

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine chief said Friday the agency will rapidly evaluate COVID-19 vaccinations for younger children as soon as it gets the needed data — and won’t cut corners.

Dr. Peter Marks told The Associated Press he is “very, very hopeful” that vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner: One company, Pfizer, is expected to turn over its study results by the end of September, and Marks say the agency hopefully could analyze them “in a matter of weeks.”

In the U.S., anyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. But with schools reopening and the delta variant causing more infections among kids, many parents are anxiously wondering when younger children can get the shots.

The latest here.

CPS Parents, Teachers Hold Rally Amid Concerns About District’s COVID Protocols

Chicago Public Schools parents held a protest in front of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s house Monday, aiming to give voice to their concerns over the dangers of the coronavirus.

The parents are seeking options to return to online learning, saying that they aren’t satisfied with the protocols and policies schools have put in place, or with the enforcement of those rules.

Protesters held a march on Monday in Logan Square, demanding accountability and other action items, with parents, students and some teachers gathering at the Logan Square Monument.

Read more here.

Pritzker Announces Programs to Provide Child Care, Other Services to Parents Seeking Jobs

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou have announced a program that will aim to give parents three months of free child care as they search for new employment.

Under the program, IDHS will expand eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which gives three months of free coverage for unemployed parents who are seeking employment.

Beginning Oct. 1, parents who are unemployed and actively seeking employment will be eligible for three months of assistance. If parents become employed or enroll in an education program within that three-month period, they will remain eligible for CCAP coverage for up to 12 months, according to a press release.

Details here.

COVID Patient at Center of Ivermectin Debate at Chicago-Area Hospital Dies

A coronavirus patient at the center of a debate after she requested to be treated with a controversial drug used in veterinary medicine called ivermectin has passed away, officials said.

Veronica Wolski, who was known for documenting demonstrations she held on a bridge over the Kennedy Expressway on YouTube, died early Monday morning, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Her cause of death was pending an autopsy.

Wolski, 64, often shared beliefs against the coronavirus vaccine and mask-wearing.

“I have never once worn a mask. I have called the police on people that tried to make me wear masks,” she said in one of her videos.

Read more here.

Some Chicago Aldermen Want City to Require Vaccination Proof in Indoor Public Spaces

A number of aldermen wrote a letter to Chicago’s top doctor Thursday, asking the city to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for those visiting public indoor settings including restaurants, bars, movie theaters and concert halls.

In support of their recommendation, the eight members of the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations cited the uncontrolled community transmission of the delta variant, the threat of new variants, approaching colder weather as well as free and readily available FDA-approved and emergency-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more here.

Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?

With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.

Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.



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Chicago Travel Advisory Set for Update Tuesday, With 2 States Near Removal – NBC Chicago


Chicago’s travel advisory is set for an update Tuesday after the city noted in last week’s guidance that two states could soon fall off the list if their metrics continue to decline.

Last week, the advisory was updated to include every U.S. state, making Vermont the final location to be added to the “orange” category on the city’s warning list, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

In its update, however, city officials noted that two states – New Hampshire and Connecticut – as well as the District of Columbia, saw their case rates fall below that threshold as of Wednesday, but they were not yet removed from the advisory.

“If these states maintain these improved case rates, they will be removed from the Travel Advisory next Tuesday,” the city said in its release. “States are removed from the Travel Advisory when they maintain a COVID case rate below 15 per 100,000 residents in two consecutive weeks.”

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

Just before the Labor Day, the city also updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from such locations should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

Still, health officials urged unvaccinated people not to travel as cases continue to surge across the country.

“As a reminder, given the current surge across the country, unvaccinated Chicagoans should not travel right now if at all possible,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement last week. “Getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to decrease your risk for COVID-19.”

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is down to 433 per day – a 10% decrease over the previous week, according to city data Tuesday.

That figure is still more than 12 times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 30% from the previous week and deaths are flat from the week prior, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing is down to 3.7% this week, a drop from 4.2% in the last week.

Arwady noted last month that about 99% of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

States and Territories on the advisory include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  

The travel advisory will be updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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All US States Now on Chicago’s Travel Advisory, City Announces – NBC Chicago


Every U.S. state is now on Chicago’s travel advisory, officials announced Wednesday, as Vermont became the final state to be added to the city’s list.

The travel advisory was set for an update on Tuesday, but metrics were delayed due to the long Labor Day weekend.

In last week’s update, every U.S. state except Vermont was added to the travel advisory’s “orange” category, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

At the same time, the city also updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from such locations should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

Two states – New Hampshire and Connecticut – as well as the District of Columbia, saw their case rates fall below that threshold as of Wednesday, but they were not yet removed from the orange list on the city’s advisory.

“If these states maintain these improved case rates, they will be removed from the Travel Advisory next Tuesday,” the city said in its release. “States are removed from the Travel Advisory when they maintain a COVID case rate below 15 per 100,000 residents in two consecutive weeks.”

Still, health officials urged unvaccinated people not to travel as cases continue to surge across the country.

“As a reminder, given the current surge across the country, unvaccinated Chicagoans should not travel right now if at all possible,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “Getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to decrease your risk for COVID-19.”

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 486 per day – a 1% increase over the previous week, according to city data Tuesday.

That figure is also more than 12 times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 19% from the previous week and deaths are flat from the week prior, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing is down to 4.2% this week, a drop from 4.3% in the last week.

Arwady noted last month that about 99% of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

States and Territories on the advisory include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  

The travel advisory will be updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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Chicago Travel Advisory Set for Another Update Tuesday – NBC Chicago


Chicago’s travel advisory is set for another update on Tuesday, one week after nearly every U.S. state was added to the list and changes to the policy were announced just before the Labor Day holiday weekend.

In last week’s update, every U.S. state except Vermont was added to the travel advisory’s “orange” category, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

“So unfortunately COVID is surging across the entire United States,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during last week’s update. “The average right now is at 39 cases per 100,000 per day. We’re doing much better than that here in Chicago, but nevertheless the news remains not good from a COVID perspective at the national level.”

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

Last week, the city also updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from such locations should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 486 per day – a 1% increase over the previous week.

That figure is also more than 12 times the low of 34 that the city saw in late June but remains lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations in Chicago are down 19% from the previous week and deaths are flat from the week prior, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing is down to 4.2% this week, a drop from 4.3% in the last week.

Arwady noted last month that about 99% of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated individuals.

States and Territories on the advisory include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.  

The travel advisory will be updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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Quarantining After Labor Day Weekend, Travel Advisory Update – NBC Chicago


As school resumes after the long Labor Day weekend, how many students will return? Changes to Chicago’s travel policy could affect city classrooms.

Plus, the city’s travel advisory is set for another update Tuesday.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Travel Advisory Set for Another Update Tuesday

Chicago’s travel advisory is set for another update on Tuesday, one week after nearly every U.S. state was added to the list and changes to the policy were announced just before the Labor Day holiday weekend.

In last week’s update, every U.S. state except Vermont was added to the travel advisory’s “orange” category, which recommends unvaccinated travelers from such locations test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine.

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

Some Unvaccinated Chicago Students Now Must Quarantine After Labor Day Travel

Unvaccinated children who traveled over the long Labor Day weekend may not be allowed back in classrooms just yet under guidance from some school districts in Chicago as the city updates its travel advisory recommendations.

Chicago Public Schools in a letter to parents last week said it would abide by new guidelines set out in the city’s travel advisory, which require a seven to 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated travelers, even if they test negative for the virus upon arrival.

“Unvaccinated students who leave the state should not come to school during their self-quarantine period, which is seven days if they receive a negative test and 10 days if they do not test,” the district wrote.

The requirement applies to any unvaccinated student, including those ages 11 and younger who are not yet eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. There is no quarantine requirement for children who are fully vaccinated, unless they develop symptoms.

A similar plan is in place for the Archdiocese of Chicago, though the district is offering students the option to test out of quarantine.

Read more here.

Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting the COVID Vaccine? Here’s What a Doctor Says

Can you drink alcohol after getting the coronavirus vaccine?

It’s a question some have been asking since the onset of the pandemic.

The answer, according to an Illinois doctor with Cook County Health, is yes, but there’s a catch.

“It’s a great question. The simple, short answer is yes,” Dr. Mark Loafman, chair of family and community medicine for Cook County Health, told NBC Chicago in May. “There’s no prohibition against drinking alcohol. It wasn’t specifically studied and there’s an assumption that some, you know, an average number of people in the study did use alcohol during the study, but it wasn’t specifically measured.”

“Excessive” alcohol consumption, however, can lead to a weakened immune system, Loafman said at the time.

“We know in general that people who have used alcohol, excessive doses of alcohol, have a weakened immune system and that makes them more susceptible to infection and may weaken their response to a vaccine,” he said.

So what is considered excessive? According to Loafman, it’s more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men with “consistent use over time.”

Moderna vs. Pfizer: Is One Vaccine Stronger Against Delta Variant?

With many now able to choose which COVID vaccine they receive, questions surrounding which offers better protection against the now-surging delta variant have spiked.

Several studies have been conducted to determine vaccine effectiveness, but is one vaccine actually better than the others?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer protection.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far about each vaccine.

Proof, Testing, Religious Exemptions: What to Know About COVID Vaccine Mandates

With both Illinois and Chicago mandating COVID vaccines for certain groups, what are the requirements and what do you need to know?

Here’s a breakdown of what we know so far.



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What to Do If Leaving For Labor Day Weekend – NBC Chicago


Do you plan on traveling for this Labor Day weekend? Health officials advised caution amid new COVID travel guidelines for Chicago.

Chicago updated its travel advisory recommendations for unvaccinated travelers this week, adding additional testing guidelines for those going to or coming from higher-risk locations as well as quarantining.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

Nearly every U.S. state, with the exception of Vermont, is now on the city’s travel advisory, meaning those states are experiencing 15 cases per day per 100,000 people.

As COVID metrics continue to climb across the U.S. and the delta variant surges in many states, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said even those who are fully vaccinated should consider the risks.

During a White House press briefing Tuesday, Walensky said everyone should rethink their travel plans, though she specifically urged unvaccinated people not to travel at all.

“Given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take their own — these risks into their own consideration as they think about traveling,” Walensky said during a White House Covid briefing Tuesday, noting that people who are fully vaccinated and wear masks can travel. “If you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling.”

Arwady said ultimately the decision will be left to parents, but she specifically urged those with unvaccinated kids to avoid traveling for the long holiday weekend.

“It is higher risk,” she said. “I would not recommend traveling, right, if you’ve got unvaccinated children, and particularly younger children. And the whole country is doing really badly from a COVID perspective right now so… I can tell you my own sister, you know, they have three young children who are too young to be vaccinated. They were hoping to go to Michigan for Labor Day, they’re not going in the context of it now being an orange state and their kids not being able to be vaccinated. I know that’s hard for people but we’re just trying to avoid infection and I think especially when we’re back in school the bar is a little higher in terms of trying to think about limiting that risk as much as possible.”

According to AAA, more people are expected to hit the roads for the unofficial end of summer due to the pandemic.

“We do expect that a majority of the people who are going to go away are going to be going by car as they have been since the pandemic,” spokesperson Molly Hart said.

But for those who do travel, it will be important to pay attention to the guidelines in place at each destination.

“Because of COVID-19 and the delta variant thing changing in regards to traveling every day and what people choose to do, it’s a personal decision to travel,” Hart said. “If people do travel, we, you know, recommend that everyone follow the CDC guidelines.”

Hart said many who are traveling are expected to choose outdoor options due to the pandemic.

“What we’ve seen over the past year is that people are just choosing to go to destinations where they can enjoy outside activities,” she said. “And that can include national parks, state parks, beaches, resorts – it’s a way for them to feel more comfortable due to the pandemic.”



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Unvaccinated Kids Who Travel This Labor Day Must Quarantine, Some Districts Tell Parents – NBC Chicago


Unvaccinated children who travel this Labor Day weekend will need to quarantine when they return under guidance from some school districts in Chicago as the city updates its travel advisory recommendations.

Chicago Public Schools in a letter to parents Thursday said it would abide by new guidelines set out in the city’s travel advisory this week, which requires a seven to 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated travelers, even if they test negative for the virus upon arrival.

“Unvaccinated students who leave the state should not come to school during their self-quarantine period, which is seven days if they receive a negative test and 10 days if they do not test,” the district wrote.

The requirement applies to any unvaccinated student, including those ages 11 and younger who are not yet eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. There is no quarantine requirement for children who are fully vaccinated, unless they develop symptoms.

“If you have an unvaccinated student please reconsider your travel plans given this guidance,” the district’s letter read.

Those who do travel are being asked to report the quarantine-related absence to the school so it can be marked as “excused.” After one school, students in quarantine will be offered take-home work to keep them on track during that time.

These students will not be eligible for remote learning, however, as that is reserved only for students who must quarantine because of a close contact or because of guidance from the state or local health departments.

A similar plan is in place for the Archdiocese of Chicago, though the district is offering students the option to test out of quarantine.

“At this time, we are maintaining our travel quarantine requirements for non-vaccinated individuals, who must quarantine for 10 days or obtain a negative COVID test to avoid the need to quarantine,” a letter to parents read. “Vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine after travel. In light of rising infections across the U.S., please be cautious when traveling with unvaccinated children.”

The district’s quarantine policy for positive cases and COVID exposure remain in place as well.

“As many prepare for the long holiday weekend, it’s important to stress that we’re all in this together – what happens outside the classroom will largely dictate how successful we are in keeping kids inside the classroom,” Greg Richmond,
superintendent of schools, wrote.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said ultimately the decision will be left to parents and schools, but she urged those with unvaccinated kids to avoid traveling for the long Labor Day weekend.

“It is higher risk,” she said. “I would not recommend traveling, right, if you’ve got unvaccinated children, and particularly younger children. And the whole country is doing really badly from a COVID perspective right now so… I can tell you my own sister, you know, they have three young children who are too young to be vaccinated. They were hoping to go to Michigan for Labor Day, they’re not going in the context of it now being an orange state and their kids not being able to be vaccinated. I know that’s hard for people but we’re just trying to avoid infection and I think especially when we’re back in school the bar is a little higher in terms of trying to think about limiting that risk as much as possible.”

Chicago updated its travel advisory recommendations for unvaccinated travelers Tuesday, adding additional testing guidelines for those going to or coming from higher-risk locations as well as quarantining.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

Nearly every U.S. state, with the exception of Vermont, is now on the city’s travel advisory.

“Unfortunately COVID is surging across the entire United States,” Arwady said. “The average right now is at 39 cases per 100,000 per day. We’re doing much better than that here in Chicago, but nevertheless the news remains not good from a COVID perspective at the national level.”





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