CHICAGO -- The city of Chicago has added Indiana to its emergency travel order due to the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the Hoosier State, making quick trips in or out of the city potentially a huge hassle for all but regular commuter workers and students.
Beginning Friday, most Hoosiers going to Chicago, and most Chicago residents who visit Indiana, are required to quarantine in Chicago for at least 14 days following their arrival or return before going out in public.
Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago's public health commissioner, announced Tuesday she added Indiana to the 24 other states on the city's quarantine order, including every state that borders Illinois, because Indiana now is reporting more than 15 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.
"All around us there is trouble. Wisconsin has a very poorly controlled outbreak. Indiana has a badly controlled outbreak," Arwady said. "Right now is the time to double down on what we know works."
Arwady said the city officially is recommending no one from Chicago visit any of the states on the list, including Indiana, and no one from any of the listed states come to Chicago.
At the same time, she acknowledged many people from Chicago neighborhoods bordering Indiana, like Hegewisch, and Hoosiers who live near Chicago regularly cross the border to shop or go out to eat, sometimes multiple times a day.
"Please don't go unless you really need to go," Arwady pleaded. "We have no goal here in Chicago except to control the spread of COVID, and that Hegewisch area has repeatedly been a hot spot area for us."
Under the city's order -- which does not apply to the rest of Illinois -- the quarantine requirement is triggered following all "non-essential" travel from Indiana to Chicago or Chicago to Indiana, even if the visit lasts less than 24 hours.
Arwady said individuals commuting to or from the city for work or school are exempt from the quarantine mandate, but must limit their travel to work-related activities and avoid public spaces as much as possible.
In addition, commuters are directed to monitor their body temperature and watch for COVID-19 symptoms, wear a face covering in public, follow social distancing guidelines, regularly clean and disinfect their workspace, and avoid, as much as possible, contact with strangers and large congregate settings.
Also exempt from the quarantine mandate are individuals simply driving through Chicago or Indiana, flying out of a Chicago airport, and people traveling for medical care or shared parental custody purposes.
But everyone else, such as a Chicago resident visiting an Indiana casino, or a Hoosier going out to dinner in the city, is subject to the quarantine order, and potentially could be fined $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000 total, for ignoring it.
"I just want you and your families to be able to avoid COVID, and one of the best ways to do that is to not have unnecessary exposure to high-risk areas for COVID," Arwady said.
Arwady mistakenly claimed Indiana is particularly risky because the state no longer requires face masks in public places or social distancing inside reopened restaurants and bars.
In fact, Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order Sept. 24 continuing both his face mask and social distancing directives, while eliminating most other restrictions on personal liberty and business operations upon Indiana reaching stage five of Holcomb's five-stage Back on Track plan.
Holcomb, a Republican, nevertheless said he understands the motivation of Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in regard to the city's quarantine order.
"Mayor Lightfoot is trying to keep her citizens safe and I'm trying to do the exact same thing," Holcomb said.