The Chicago Department of Public Health is urging residents who travel to areas of the country deemed medium or high risk for COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow precautions, according to an update of advice to travelers on Friday.
The CDPH issued recommendations following the latest update to the CDC’s county-by-county community levels map, which ranks 4.4% of counties in the United States and Puerto Risk as medium or high risk for COVID. .
Most states still have low levels of COVID-19, health officials say, but some states, such as Arkansas, Maine, Montana, New York and South Dakota, have large clusters of medium to high levels of COVID-19.
Those who are 5 or older and not up to date with COVID vaccinations should avoid traveling to areas listed as high risk, according to the recommendations. Unvaccinated people who decide to travel should follow CDC guidelines upon returning to Chicago, which include quarantining for 5 days after travel and testing for COVID 3-5 days after returning.
In medium-risk areas, people should “consider wearing a mask in indoor public spaces,” health officials say. In communities deemed high risk, people are advised to wear a mask in such settings.
This week, 19 counties have high-risk community levels, a slight increase from 17 counties last week. Overall levels have improved over the past few days, with 163 people listed as medium to high risk last week, up from 142 this week.
Parts of Illinois and other Midwestern states are among those that would be at medium or high risk.
As of Friday, Gallatin, Hardin, Pope and Saline counties were considered to be in the high-risk category, which means masks are recommended. Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota all have at least one county listed as medium or high risk.
Even though COVID measures have climbed in Chicago, masks are still not necessary, health officials say.
Cases rose 28% last week, but hospitalizations fell 38%, with just seven Chicagoans on average hospitalized with COVID per day as of Thursday.
Community spread also remains low, said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
“We continue to see cases, but overall the outbreak remains well under control,” Arwady said.