Travelers to the US face tougher COVID-19 testing requirements as officials try to limit the spread of Omicron – Community News

Travelers to the US face tougher COVID-19 testing requirements as officials try to limit the spread of Omicron

CHICAGO — A stricter testing requirement for international travelers to the United States took effect Monday.

The measure — which requires travelers to take a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their flight’s departure — aims to limit the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus in the United States. The requirement applies to all people, including US citizens and fully vaccinated people.

The change has raised concerns among some travelers, who fear they will not be able to get a test result in time for a flight. But officials are trying to buy themselves time and limit the possible spread of Omicron to prevent another possible spread of the coronavirus.

Omicron has already been found in several states, and local officials have said they expect it to be detected in Chicago within days.

The Omicron variant is considered extremely contagious, but is still under investigation to determine the risks it may pose.

Even without Omicron, Chicago has struggled with the coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks. Cases, positivity rates and deaths have soared as the weather has cooled. Other spots in the upper Midwest have seen similar increases.

Chicago is not yet planning further restrictions in response to the variant, Dr. Allison Arwady, chief of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said.

The city and state largely require people to wear masks indoors when in public. Otherwise, most local COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted since vaccines became widespread.

The city has no plans for additional restrictions as of now, Arwady said Thursday. She noted that more places, such as event venues, could demand a vaccination certificate of their own accord.

“I have no desire and no plans at this point” to shut things down, Arwady said at a news conference. “If we had to go there, it would only be in the setting if we saw major threats to our health care system.”


• In Illinois, according to state data, approximately 7.4 million people — or 58.73 percent of the state’s 12.7 million residents — have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

• Statewide, 68,730 doses of vaccine are administered per day, based on a seven-day moving average.

• Illinois and Chicago administered at least 17,716,018 vaccine doses of the 20,325,725 delivered to them.

• City data shows that more than 1.6 million Chicago residents — or 61.7 percent of all residents — have been fully vaccinated, and 68.8 percent of all Chicago residents have received at least one shot.

Anyone 5 years and older is eligible for vaccination in Chicago.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 are free and require no insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to learn more about how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• As of Friday, 85 people from Illinois have died from COVID-19.

• At least 26,620 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,999 deaths are likely related to the virus, the state said.

• The state has reported 19,110 cases since Friday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois to 1,854,186.

• As of Friday, 413,534 tests have been reported statewide. A total of 40,063,543 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was 4.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people who tested positive under recent tests. It stood at 4.7 percent on Friday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was 5.4 percent. It stood at 5.6 percent on Friday.

• On Sunday evening, 579 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 256 people with COVID-19 were on ventilators in Illinois.

• Three deaths have been reported in Chicago since Friday. At least 6,025 have been killed by COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four people die a day, up 45 percent from last week.

• Chicago has reported 2,623 confirmed cases since Friday. It has had a total of 349,774 confirmed cases. An average of 627 confirmed cases are reported per day, a 1 percent decrease from the previous week.

• Chicago testing is down 25 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was 4.1 percent, up from 3.1 percent the previous week.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free to all readers.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-led editorial team. We earn every dime by reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. We make every dime reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: