Wisconsin, Indiana back on Chicago’s COVID-19 travel advisory list as Delta flares nationwide

Illinois’ neighbor to the north finds itself back on the city’s list for the first time since mid-April — just in time for the Wisconsin State Fair, a regular draw for Chicagoans to the Milwaukee suburbs.

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The Wisconsin State Fair in 2011.

The Wisconsin State Fair in 2011.

Archivo Sun-Times

A trip across any of Illinois’ borders now requires a negative COVID-19 test or a 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated visitors and Chicagoans returning home, as the Delta variant surges nationwide.

That includes Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, which were among 12 states added Tuesday to the city’s coronavirus travel advisory — a list now covering more than half the country, with 31 states and two territories considered hot spots.

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Wisconsin finds itself back on the city’s list for the first time since mid-April — just in time for the Wisconsin State Fair, a regular draw for Chicagoans to the Milwaukee suburbs.The fair — which runs through Sunday and advertises on its website that “masks are not required” — drew more than 1.1 million attendees over its last 11-day run in 2019.

Indiana hadn’t been flagged by the city since mid-May, nor had Iowa since April. Kentucky and Missouri were added earlier in the Delta surge.

States are added to the list when they start logging COVID-19 cases at a daily rate of 15 or more per 100,000 residents. Illinois is just shy of that number, while Chicago itself is close to 13 as cases have risen steadily since the start of July.

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Chicago Department of Public Health

With zero tickets handed out since the city’s travel order was instituted last summer, the advisory has been a purely educational initiative. It doesn’t apply to vaccinated residents.

“No matter where you’re traveling, even if you never leave Chicago, if you get any symptoms that you think could be COVID, you think it’s a summer cold, you think it’s the flu — take a COVID test, even if you’re vaccinated, while we’re going through this surge,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during an online Q&A. “You can see just how much this continues to spread.”

Average daily cases have multiplied by six over the past month in Illinois. With 2,950 new cases reported Tuesday, Illinois has logged nearly 20,000 infections over the past week — or more than double the statewide number reported throughout all of June.

The Delta variant is estimated to be driving more than 90% of new cases, which are concentrated in less vaccinated communities, Arwady said.

Nearly 1,500 coronavirus patients were hospitalized Monday night, the most since mid-May. Infections have skyrocketed in southern Illinois, where 92% of intensive care unit beds are full, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Average daily COVID-19 death tolls have increased from eight to 12 over the past month, too. The state announced 10 more deaths Tuesday.

“What’s happening in the rest of the country is very much the same as what’s happening in Illinois in terms of the increase,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference. “We’re always considering what else we need to do in the state, whether it’s a vaccination requirement for other state workers or other kinds of mitigations.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks after signing a bill that expands access to family and medical leave at the James R. Thompson Center on Tuesday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks after signing a bill that expands access to family and medical leave at the James R. Thompson Center on Tuesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Nearly three-quarters of eligible Illinois residents have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. About 57% are fully immunized.

Chicagoans can request an in-home shot by calling (312) 746-4835. For help finding a dose in suburban Cook County, visit cookcountypublichealth.org or call (833) 308-1988. To find other Illinois providers, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or call (833) 621-1284.


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