Chicago’s top health official says the state has ‘poorly controlled’ outbreak
Crusader Staff Report
It’s official. Chicago’s quarantine list now includes the neighboring state of Indiana.
With nearly 7,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last four days reported by the Indiana Department of Health, Chicago elevated the state from a warning list to its official travel advisory/quarantine list.
Last week, Chicago health officials urged Chicago residents to avoid traveling to Indiana.
“Indiana has a very poorly controlled outbreak,” Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
Travelers arriving in Chicago from Indiana must now quarantine for 14 days. Questions remain as to how Chicago will enforce the list or whether there are penalties for travelers commuting back and forth from the Hoosier State.
First responders and essential workers are exempt from the quarantine list.
Chicago is among a handful of states that impose fines to violators of its quarantine list. The city fines violators up to $500 per day, to a maximum of $7,000. Since July 6, the city of Chicago has been under an emergency travel order mandating that visitors must quarantine for 14 days if they come from states with 15 or more new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average.
Enforcement of the list has not occurred, but this week health officials said they will begin the process without giving details on how they will catch violators.
In Connecticut, travelers must provide proof of a negative test for the disease within 72 hours of arrival. They need to fill out a mandatory online Travel Health Form before arriving. Violators can be fined $1,000 if they fail to follow the order.
Upon landing at Connecticut airports, travelers fill out a self-certification form detailing their contact information, where they are coming from and where they will be quarantining. There is no enforcement for travelers arriving in Connecticut by car.
In Hawaii, travelers will be fined as much as $5,000 if they don’t obey an order that requires them to sign a statement acknowledging that violating this order is a criminal offense with a steep fine attached.
Since September 1, travelers have the option to avoid quarantining by showing proof of a test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. Those awaiting test results will need to quarantine until they can prove a negative result. There will be no option for testing upon arrival.
In Chicago, Puerto Rico and 20 states were already on the city’s quarantine list.
In response to Chicago’s latest move, Republican Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said, “Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot is trying to keep her citizens safe and I’m trying to do the exact same thing.”
Indiana health officials on Tuesday reported 27 more COVID-19 deaths as hospitalizations and rates of new infections continued sharp increases.
As of Monday, October 12 Indiana had 1,288 COVID-19 hospitalizations. That is a 70 percent increase in hospitalizations in the past three weeks, which is when Republican Governor Eric Holcomb decided to lift nearly all of Indiana’s restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes while keeping the statewide mask mandate.
The latest fatalities raise the state’s death toll to 3,822-an increase of 111 deaths in the past week. Indiana’s seven-day rolling average of new confirmed infections is up 90 percent from three weeks earlier.
Chicago shares a very active state line with Indiana. Thousands of people on both sides travel between the city and state to shop, work, attend school, visit relatives or tourist sites, and other activities.
“Unless Mayor Lori Lightfoot is planning to barricade the highways and stop the commuter trains, this won’t have much of an effect, in all reality,” Hammond, IN Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr. told WBEZ. “There is no way they can stop Hoosiers from visiting Chicago, and there’s no way they can stop Illinois residents from visiting us.”
Many Chicago residents on the South Side travel to Indiana to purchase food and clothing that are more affordable than items sold in the city. Wisconsin, a neighboring state north of Illinois, also remains on the quarantine list.