CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s COVID case count is getting lower, but according to the city’s top doctor, the metrics still have some room for improvement.
Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department Health Department, said the numbers are moving in the right direction, but it needs to improve. She added that for the seventh straight week, no states or territories are coming off the Chicago Travel Advisory.
“It’s great to see these daily case rates go down throughout the country, as I know we’re all anxious to get COVID-19 behind us,” Arwady said. “But the fact remains that every state and territory is still under our Travel Advisory because their COVID case rates are still high enough. And anyone traveling is still at risk of getting COVID-19, and certainly the unvaccinated are at much greater risk.”
According to the CDPH, “Maryland is the only state or territory with a COVID-19 case rate of under 15 per 100,000 residents. For any state or territory to be removed from the Travel Advisory, they must have a daily COVID-19 case rate of under 15 for two consecutive weeks. Maryland’s daily case rate is 13.6. Puerto Rico is next closest at 17.1.”
The city’s health department said the country’s average daily case rate per 100,000 residents is 48.6 and that the state’s daily case rate currently is 33.8. That’s a 76% decline from a couple of weeks ago. when it was 139.6. The city’s daily case rate stands at is 15.9. Last week it was over 21.2.
“Under the advisory, unvaccinated travelers should be tested for COVID-19 before and after travel from any state on the advisory list and should quarantine upon arrival in Chicago. For domestic travel, the quarantine and testing recommendations do not apply to fully vaccinated travelers,” according to the CDPH.
For international travel, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship, get a negative COVID-19 viral test no more than 1 day before travel into the United States. CDPH guidelines follow CDC requirements for international travel.
The CDC recommends that anyone who is unvaccinated delay travel until they are fully vaccinated.
Arwady said as the state’s February 28th date to drop the mask mandate approaches, the guidance for Chicago will be more in focus in the coming weeks.
“When we’re talking about lifting masks ,when we’re talking about lifting mitigations, it’s about getting down to a point where the risk of it being exposed to somebody who currently has COVID-19 and could be spreading COVID-19 is relatively low,” Arwady said. “And that’s that’s why we do what we do, and why we use the data and why we’ve been consistent with what the epidemiologist and CDC have been recommending.”
“We’re averaging 431 cases per day right now you can see that 15.9 cases per 100,000 and as we drop under that 400 cases per day, that’s when we move from high into the substantial or moderate risk as defined by CDC,” Arwady said, who added that treatments for people who get COVID are available if they’re taken right after a positive test result.
“When we talk to doctors in Chicago, they are still hearing that high risk people who get COVID, people who are over 65 people who have underlying conditions, they get COVID, they’re vaccinated, perhaps they don’t call their doctor they don’t do anything about it. And then a week or two later, sometimes they start to get really sick and it is too late a week or two later,” Arwady said. “To get the early treatments that are available, there are oral treatments, there are IV medications. And if you test positive regardless of your vaccination status, you can get these medications and we want you to call your doctor the number one reason that our Chicago providers say people are getting these is that they’re hearing too late. And so I want to remind you, you can’t just walk into a pharmacy and get this there’s a lot of interactions The doctor has to make the recommendation of a healthcare provider.”