Iowa, Oklahoma added to Chicago’s travel quarantine list due to COVID-19 outbreaks

City officials are now ordering travelers from 17 hot spot states to quarantine for two weeks.

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Map of U.S. showing states affected by Chicago’s emergency travel order

Chicagoans returning from trips to Iowa, and any Hawkeye visitors to the city, will soon have to hunker down for two weeks under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s quarantine order for travelers from coronavirus hot spots. 

Illinois’ neighbor to the west was added to the city’s travel quarantine list Tuesday, along with Oklahoma, as COVID-19 cases spike in those states. 

Fifteen other states with infection rates greater than 15 cases per 100,000 residents remain on Chicago’s mandated quarantine list that first went into effect July 6: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

The order goes into effect Friday for travelers from Oklahoma and Iowa, which is the first border state added to Chicago’s list. Wisconsin is in the next tier, according to city figures, with an infection rate sitting between 10 and 15 cases per 100,000 residents. 

“We’re paying very close attention everywhere around us, and particularly states in the Midwest that border Illinois, and Chicago,” Lightfoot said at a news conference.

Violators are subject to fines of $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000. The city hasn’t issued any citations in the first week, but Lightfoot said she thinks people are following the order.

“It is, I think, an important thing to raise the consciousness of people that are living in and coming from those locations, about what their obligations are, if they want to travel,” she said.

The quarantine order only applies if a person has spent 24 hours or more in one of the flagged states, so connecting flights and short road trips are not an issue. 

There are exceptions for personal travel, including travel for medical care and shared parental custody. Those who travel for “essential” work are exempt but urged to “avoid public spaces as much as possible.” 

Otherwise, even if a traveler from a hot spot state tests negative, they’re still required to quarantine because “individuals can develop symptoms and become contagious up to 14 days from their last exposure,” officials said.

The city is updating its list every Tuesday. States can be removed from the list if their infection rates dip. 

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