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Chicago’s health commissioner suggests canceling Thanksgiving travel plans this year

With a surge in cases across the nation, Dr. Allison Arwady says "traveling is a concern right now."

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

Yesterday, Florida became the 31st state to join Chicago's emergency travel order, which directs anyone entering or returning to Chicago from a state with rising case numbers to self-quarantine for 14 days. With COVID cases surging throughout the U.S., it's unlikely that many states will be dropped from Chicago's list as the holiday travel season begins in a just a few weeks, which is why Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is asking residents to reconsider their plans.

"Traveling is a concern right now," Dr. Arwady stated during a press conference on October 27. "When we are coming from Chicago or Illinois and traveling out, we are bringing a potential risk of COVID. When people are coming to Chicago from most of the country at this point, they're bringing an elevated risk of COVID."

Dr. Arwady revealed that she is not personally planning on traveling for Thanksgiving this year, unless there are "significant improvements" to case numbers throughout the U.S. She also expressed concerns about frequent holiday travelers like college students causing further spread of the virus and contributing to an even larger surge in cases.

"I would encourage you—especially if you are normally getting together with people who are older or have underlying health conditions—to think seriously about whether this is the year for travel," Dr. Arwady said.

Large Thanksgiving gatherings were already thrown into question last week, when the city issued new guidelines for non-essential businesses while suggesting that Chicagoans limit their “personal bubble” of friends and family members to no more than six people and not invite others into their homes.

"This is spreading, and this is why we recommended last week and continue to recommend that you not invite anyone into your home that does not live there," Dr. Arwady reiterated yesterday.

While it's likely that more Chicagoans will find themselves stuck at home instead of traveling to spend time with loved ones this Thanksgiving, that doesn't mean you need to skip the big meal. With the state banning indoor service at Chicago restaurants and bars on Friday, there's no better time to support a local business by ordering your Thanksgiving feast in advance.

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