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Wisconsin expected to return to Chicago’s travel quarantine list for travelers

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 9/22/2020 By John Byrne, Chicago Tribune
a person standing in front of a screen: In this file photo, City Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady speaks during a news conference at Chicago City Hall on Friday, May 22, 2020. © Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS In this file photo, City Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady speaks during a news conference at Chicago City Hall on Friday, May 22, 2020.

Chicago is expected on Tuesday, for the second time, to add Wisconsin to the city’s list of states from which travelers into Chicago should stay inside their homes for two weeks after traveling there because of high coronavirus counts, a source said.

Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady warned last week that if Wisconsin’s case rate didn’t come down below the 15 cases per 100,000 residents threshold Chicago officials use to determine the self-quarantine list, then she would include them soon.

Wisconsin’s cases remain above 20 per 100,000, according to city records, and Arwady is expected to announce the move on Tuesday, a source said.

“We will not formally add them today, but we are advising against travel to Wisconsin,” Arwady said last week. “I want to highlight that Wisconsin has had the most cases that it has had at any point since COVID broke out last week, and they are having percent positivities that range from the 13 to 17% range, and problems across the state.”

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers noted the state’s struggle with COVID-19 and called on residents to help get the disease under control.

“With the start of the school year, we are now facing near-exponential spread of COVID-19. This is driven in part by the unprecedented number of infections among 18-24 year-olds, which have a case rate five times higher than any other age group,” Evers tweeted. “Today I declared a new public health emergency and face covering order effective immediately to address the recent surge in cases among young people. We have to get this virus under control, and we need everyone to do their part, especially students across our state.”

The city of Chicago announces the additions and subtractions from its largely symbolic roll call of states on Tuesdays, and the new quarantine requirements take effect the following Friday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration first added Wisconsin to the 14-day quarantine order in late July, only to take it off the list in mid-August when case numbers there dropped.

It’s tough to tell whether the city taking the step makes much difference, since officials are doing little to determine whether people coming to Chicago from these states are following the two-week stay-at-home order. Arwady said the travel list has served mostly to educate Chicagoans to avoid states that are coronavirus hot spots.

jebyrne@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @_johnbyrne

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