Do You Need a Vaccine to Fly? CDC Air Travel Guidelines and What Else to Know – NBC Chicago


As the omicron variant surges, questions are swirling online about Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel guidance, specifically regarding testing and vaccines.

Specific requirements and guidelines largely depend on where you’re located and where you’re heading.

Here’s what you need to know:

If you’re fully vaccinated and planning to travel within the U.S., you won’t need to be tested for COVID-19 or self-quarantine, according to the latest guidance update from the CDC.

But those who aren’t fully vaccinated are advised to get tested with a viral test 1 to 3 days before embarking on a trip.

After traveling, people are asked to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and if such symptoms develop, get tested and isolate.

If you’re traveling internationally, whether a COVID-19 test is required depends on your destination as rules and regulations vary widely. The CDC strongly recommends that people don’t leave the country until they’re fully vaccinated.

When returning to the U.S. from another country, you’ll be required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than one day before traveling, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

Those who recently recovered from COVID-19 have another option.

They can travel with documentation of recovery such as a viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure and a letter from a health care provider stating they were cleared to travel, according to the CDC.

Overall, COVID travel requirements for U.S. citizens and visitors have one main difference.

Non-U.S. citizens must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before flying into the U.S. from a foreign country, according to a policy implemented by the Biden administration Nov. 8.

Airlines also may have their own vaccine and testing policies, making it especially important to check your airline’s website before taking a trip.

To strengthen contact tracing, all air passengers to the U.S. are required to provide contact information before boarding flights to the country, health officials said.

Regardless of your destination or whether you’ve been vaccinated, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains and other modes of public transportation traveling to, within, or out of the U.S.



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All US States, Territories on Warning List for Second Straight Week – NBC Chicago


For the second straight week, every U.S. state and territory is on Chicago’s travel advisory, the city announced Tuesday.

Last week marked the first week every location was on the city’s warning list, but with no states or territories reaching the threshold to be removed, the advisory remained unchanged in its weekly update.

According to the city’s health department, it has been nearly a year since the last time every state and territory has been on the travel advisory.  

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

“If you’re unvaccinated and you travel, you’re taking a huge health risk,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “The most important thing you can do right now – whether you’re planning to travel or not – is to get fully vaccinated and get a booster shot when you are eligible. People are ending up in hospitals every day who didn’t think they’d ever be there – and nearly all of them are unvaccinated. People are dying every day – and overwhelmingly they are unvaccinated.”  

Just before the Labor Day holiday last year, the city updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from locations on the advisory should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago sat at 4,793 per day, marking a drop from last week’s 5,189.

That figure is much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June and now exceeds the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

Hospitalizations, however, are averaging 187 per day, an increase of 37% in the last week. Deaths are also reporting an increase of 25% in the last week.

The positivity rate in testing dropped to 18.9% this week, down from 21% the week prior.

The travel advisory is updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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Chicago Travel Advisory Jumps to 48 States, 3 Territories Days Before NYE – NBC Chicago


With the new year now underway, Chicago updated its travel advisory overnight to include every U.S. state and territory, prompting city health officials to urge anyone looking to travel right now to reconsider their plans.

Last week, Montana and Guam remained the only locations not on the city’s warning list.

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

“COVID is very real, it’s merciless, and unless you are fully vaccinated, your defenses against it are pretty low,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “You can only fully fight this virus if you’re vaccinated. The evidence is overwhelming – if you are fully vaccinated and you do get COVID-19, there’s very little chance you will get so ill that you require hospitalization. Your chances aren’t nearly as good if you remain unvaccinated. Unvaccinated and vaccinated travelers alike should consider if their travel plans are necessary at this time.”  

The advisory is set to be updated every Tuesday, but the city’s health department said this week’s was delayed due to a lag in data from the holiday weekend.

Just before the Labor Day holiday, the city updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from locations on the advisory should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago climbed to 4,775 per day – up 12% from the previous week.

That figure is much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June and now exceeds the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

City data showed hospitalizations are up 22% from the previous week, but deaths are down by 9% since last week. The positivity rate in testing rose to 23.3% this week, a sharp jump from the 14.3% reported the week prior.

The travel advisory is updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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Travel Alerts, Parking Reminders, Road Closures and More – NBC Chicago


A New Year’s Day snowstorm started making its way across the Chicago area, bringing dangerous travel conditions that halted hundreds of flights and sparked closures in the city as it threatened to dump several inches of snow.

Here’s the latest on what’s happening across the area as the heaviest snow begins to fall:

4:20 p.m.: Evanston reminds residents of off-street parking options

With several inches of snow expected in the region, the city of Evanston issued a reminder to residents about available free parking options.

As the city expects to see 5 to 7 inches of snow, off-street parking is encouraged to provide extra room for snow plows.

Free parking options are listed below:

  • Downtown parking garage, located at 1800 Maple Ave., through Thursday, Jan. 6 at 11:59 p.m. 
  • Evanston Township High School parking lots 1 and 1A. Drivers should enter the lots from Davis Street east of Dodge Avenue. 
  • AMITA Health is offering free parking to Evanston residents in its parking garage, located at Sherman Avenue and Austin Street.

The following city parking lots are also included:

  • Lot 3, 1700 Chicago Ave.
  • Lot 4, Central Street at Stewart Avenue (metered spaces only)
  • Lot 16, 800/900 Noyes St. at the CTA tracks
  • Lot 24, 727 Main St.
  • Lot 25, 1614 Maple Ave. (metered spaces only)
  • Lot 27, 1621 Oak Ave.
  • Lot 51, 927 Noyes St. (metered spaces only)
  • Lot 54, Central Street Metra Station

4:06 p.m.: Chicago officials issue alert regarding travel conditions

3:50 p.m.: Chicago’s street department shifts to new snow program phase

As snow pummeled the city of Chicago Saturday afternoon, the Department of Streets and Sanitation activated its Phase 3 snow program, increasing the number of salt spreaders throughout the city to 287.

DSS staff will continue to monitor the weather and ground conditions and will adjust snow resources if and when needed, according to a news release from department officials.

Residents are advised to stay home, but if travel is necessary, they’re encouraged to drive according to conditions and reduce speed.

3 p.m.: Winter weather advisory begins for some northwest Indiana counties

A winter weather advisory takes effect in some northwest Indiana counties, including Newton and Jasper.

The advisory, which remains in effect until 6 a.m. CT Sunday, warns of anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of accumulations as rain transitions to snow throughout the afternoon and evening.

2:50 p.m.: Huntley implements parking ban with more than 2 inches of snow on the ground

2:17 p.m.: Chicago Park District Closes Parts of Lakefront Trail

2 p.m.: Heaviest snow set to begin for some counties

For counties under the earliest winter storm warning, the heaviest snow is expected to fall between 2 and 8 p.m.

This includes in McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy and Will counties in Illinois.

2 p.m.: Thousands of flights canceled

More than 1,000 flights were reported canceled in Chicago Saturday afternoon as a New Year’s Day snowstorm made its way into the area.

By 2 p.m. O’Hare International Airport had reported 844 cancellations while Midway Airport saw an additional 273.

Chicago was reported to be among the worst in the country for cancellations on the holiday due to the wintry weather.

12 pm. More counties now under winter storm warning

The warning begins at 12 p.m. CT in Lake, DuPage and Cook counties in Illinois, along with Lake and Porter counties in Indiana. Kenosha County in Wisconsin also has a winter storm warning at this time.

Snow, heavy at times, could also turn into blowing snow, making travel hazardous, according to the alert. Total accumulations of 5 to 9 inches are expected along with wind gusts of up to 40 mph in the afternoon and evening, particularly along the lakefront.

The warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. CT Sunday.

A winter weather advisory is also in effect for LaPorte County in Indiana at this time. The advisory, which remains in effect until noon Sunday, warns of snow accumulations between 5 and 7 inches, with some locations seeing higher amounts, particularly those near Lake Michigan.

9 a.m.: Winter storm warning took effect

A winter storm warning began at 9 a.m. in McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy and Will counties in Illinois.

It warns of total snow accumulations between 4 and 8 inches with wind gusts of up to 35 mph in the afternoon and evening.

“Travel could become very difficult,” the alert states. “Blowing snow after sunset Saturday could significantly reduce visibility, especially in open areas.”

The warning remains in effect for these counties until midnight.

8:30 a.m. Chicago transportation department deploys hundreds of salt spreaders

At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation announced it would activated its “Phase II snow program, deploying 211 salt spreaders in response to a winter system that will result in snow throughout the day and into the night.”

The salt spreaders will focus on Chicago’s arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive before shifting to side streets, the department said.





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Illinois Drivers Urged to Postpone Unnecessary Travel During Weekend Winter Storm – NBC Chicago


The Illinois Department of Transportation on Friday urged drivers to consider postponing unnecessary road travel this weekend as heavy snow, bitter cold and gusty winds threaten the Chicago area during a winter storm taking aim at the region.

IDOT expects the winter storm will “create hazardous conditions across the state,” including extremely slick conditions and poor visibility.

“IDOT crews will be out on the roads but conditions could still be extremely hazardous, so we encourage motorists to ask themselves if they really need to make the trip,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman in a statement. “If you do have to travel, remember that the bitter cold and wind reduces the effectiveness of the materials we use to treat snow and ice. There will be lengthy travel times so make sure to prepare your vehicle in the event you are stranded.”

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday for Cook, Lake, DuPage, DeKalb, Kane, La Salle, Kendall, Grundy, Will, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Ogle and Lee counties through midnight. A winter storm watch was previously issued for the Chicago area from 6 a.m. Saturday until Sunday morning.

Forecasters say that steady, blowing snow will be the primary threat from the storm, causing dangerous travel conditions throughout the area.

Snow accumulations will vary widely depending on the track of the storm, but forecasters say that accumulations of greater than six inches are possible, along with northeasterly winds gusting in excess of 35 miles per hour.

Travel will be difficult at times during the storm, with blowing snow expected to dramatically reduce visibility in open areas.

Forecasters say that the steadiest snow rates will likely occur from 2 p.m. through 8 p.m. Saturday.

IDOT said more than 1,800 trucks and equipment will be deployed statewide to treat roads and respond to weather emergencies. Drivers are asked to slow down and increase driving distance if you encounter a plow or maintenance vehicle.

If you must travel, IDOT recommends:

• Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
• Make sure your gas tank is full.
• Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
• Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
• Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
• Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
• If you are involved in a crash or break down, remain inside your vehicle, which is your safest form of shelter. Exiting your vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
• Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.

IDOT provides regular updates on statewide road conditions at www.gettingaroundillinois.com.



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Confidence in Chance for New Year’s Snowstorm Grows – NBC Chicago


If you’re planning to travel in the Chicago area this New Year’s Day you might want to reconsider.

Forecasters say the chance for a potential winter storm that could bring accumulating snow, ice and a wintry mix to the Chicago area is heightening.

According to the National Weather Service, “confidence continues to grow in significant winter travel impacts” New Year’s Day afternoon and evening, with much of the Chicago area under a “high” probability for several inches of accumulation.

NWS reported parts of the Chicago area could see accumulations of up to 6 inches of snow, but exactly how much snow will fall and where remains unclear.

Of course, there is still plenty up in the air with the system, as the storm that would bring it to the area is still located off the coast of California. The NWS noted that freezing rain and sleet could mix in with the snow and NBC 5 Storm Team meteorologists say a wintry mix is likely, at least at the start. That could have an impact on any snow totals.

According to the NBC 5 Storm Team, any deviation to the path of the weather system could also significantly impact how much snow, or even mixed precipitation, the area could see.

If the storm track moves to the south, then the system would likely deal only a “glancing blow” to the region, and forecasted snowfall totals would likely be revised downward.

If the storm moves to the north, then it could possibly pull in warmer air, which would then turn a primarily snow-fueled system into one marked by a mix of rain and snow.

The current track of the storm will bring it through the Midwest, with the center of the storm passing just to the south of Chicago, meaning that it would produce primarily snow in the area.

Forecasters are urging the public to keep an eye on the latest information, as the projected path of the storm will be more dialed in as it arrives on the West Coast and begins its trek toward the Midwest.

“This forecasted winter storm is slated to arrive in the Midwest at a time when holiday travel is at a peak.  It is with that in mind that we remind all travelers to monitor road conditions and only travel during a winter storm if it is absolutely necessary,” Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said in a statement.





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Chicago Travel Advisory Jumps to 48 States, 3 Territories Days Before NYE – NBC Chicago


With the holiday travel rush continuing despite complications from the surging omicron variant, Chicago has added two more states and one territory to its travel advisory ahead of the New Year.

Louisiana and South Carolina, along with the Virgin Islands, were added to the city’s warning list Tuesday, but Montana was removed.

That means that, as of Tuesday, every state or territory except for Guam and Montana are on the advisory. Three states – Alaska, Idaho, and Mississippi – are eligible to come off the advisory next week, the Chicago Department of Public Health said, if their numbers remain below the threshold.

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

“If you must travel during this time, please make sure you are fully vaccinated – and that includes a booster shot,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “You don’t know the vaccination status of your fellow travelers, so take the extra precaution of wearing your mask whenever you are in enclosed spaces with other people. If you’re not vaccinated, you probably shouldn’t be traveling.”  

Just before the Labor Day holiday, the city updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from locations on the advisory should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago climbed to 3,796 per day – up 85% from the previous week.

That figure is much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June and now exceeds the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

City data showed hospitalizations are up 15% from the previous week, but deaths are down by 37% since last week. The positivity rate in testing rose to 15.4% this week, a sharp jump from the 7.4% reported the week prior.

Some of the data may be skewed due to the holidays, however.

The travel advisory is updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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Pritzker to Give COVID Update, Omicron Travel Woes Continue – NBC Chicago


Holiday travel frustrations grew over the weekend and into Monday as omicron caused staffing shortages for a number of airlines, sparking hundreds of flight cancellations.

Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to discuss the new variant while delivering a COVID-19 update for Illinois.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Watch Live: Gov. Pritzker to Give COVID-19 Update, Discuss Omicron Variant in Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to give a COVID-19 update Monday, addressing the omicron variant that has been spreading across Illinois and the U.S. in recent weeks.

The governor is slated to speak at noon from the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago where he will address the omicron variant as well as expanding vaccination clinics in Illinois. (Watch live here and in the player above)

More Than 80 Flights Canceled in Chicago Monday as Omicron Leads to Flying Frustrations

Chicago airports reported dozens of canceled flights once again Monday as the omicron variant caused airline staffing issues in the midst of one of the busiest holiday travel periods.

Chicago airports reported dozens of canceled flights once again Monday as the omicron variant caused airline staffing issues in the midst of one of the busiest holiday travel periods.

As of Monday morning, more than 80 flights were reported canceled at both Midway and O’Hare airports in the city.

As of 5:30 a.m., 54 cancellations were reported at O’Hare Airport, along with more than 86 delays in the last 24 hours. Midway International Airport reported 30 flight cancellations and 14 delays in the most recent 24-hour time period.

A total of 1,233 U.S. flights had been canceled as of 6 p.m. Sunday, and another 5,118 flights were delayed, according to the flight tracking website Flightaware.com. By early Monday, more than 700 flights were canceled.

Read more here.

NHL Postpones Blackhawks-Blue Jackets Game

The Chicago Blackhawks season will be on pause a little bit longer.

The NHL announced the Blackhawks game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night will be postponed for COVID-related reasons.

The NHL also suspended two other games on Wednesday, Dec. 29.

Read more here.

‘Can’t Stop COVID Without You:’ Advocate Aurora Health Issues Call to Action in Newspapers

With the pandemic nearing two years and the U.S. facing another surge in COVID-19 cases, the chief nursing officer at Downers Grove-based Advocate Aurora Health admits health care workers are tired, saying they’re experiencing fatigue and an “emotional drain.”

As a result, the health system placed a call to action in Sunday newspapers across Illinois and Wisconsin, pleading with residents to get vaccinated.

The advertisement begins with “We can’t stop COVID without you,” in a large font, taking up nearly half a page of the one-page ad.

“Beds are full. Wait times are long,” the ad continues. “And the strain on our health care team, undeniable. The doctors, nurses and countless others who have so skillfully and compassionately cared for our communities are hurting…”

Read more here.

Southern Illinois University Will Require COVID Tests, Rather Than Online Learning, After Break

Southern Illinois University officials will rely on testing rather than a period of remote classes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus following the holiday break.

Classes are set to begin Jan. 10 and SIU Carbondale officials have told students, faculty and staff that they must complete a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of returning to the campus.

Those fully vaccinated against the coronavirus also must be tested, The Southern Illinoisan reported. People who have not been vaccinated will have to be tested weekly.

Other universities in Illinois have opted to begin the spring semester remotely amid concerns that the holidays and omicron’s arrival in the state will cause widespread cases.

Read more here.

What Should You Do If You Test Positive for COVID or Were Exposed During the Holidays?

What should you do if you or someone with whom you have been in close contact tests positive for coronavirus during the holidays?

As families and friends gather to celebrate Christmas, New Years and other holidays, many are looking for information on how long to quarantine, if at all and how long they might be contagious.

Here’s a look at the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do if you test positive or believe you were exposed to someone who has.

How to Add Your COVID Vaccine Card to Apple Wallet Before Chicago’s Requirement Starts

Starting in 2022, Chicagoans will have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to get into indoor public places, and Apple has an easy way to access the record on the iPhone.

Beginning Jan. 3, anyone age 5 and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination to dine inside or visit gyms or entertainment venues where food and drinks are being served, joining other big cities like New York and Los Angeles in adding the requirement.

Apple’s new iOS 15.1 operating system allows users to add “verifiable” COVID vaccination information in the Wallet app, making it easier to provide proof of vaccination as opposed to carrying a physical card.

Here’s how to do it.

Here’s Where Vaccine Proof Will Be Required in Chicago Next Year

Beginning Jan. 3, Chicago will require proof of vaccination for many indoor public spaces as the city works to combat what officials are calling “the biggest COVID surge that we have seen since before vaccines were available.”

Here are the places where vaccine proof will be required – and where it won’t.

Swollen Lymph Nodes After COVID Booster Shot? Here’s What Experts Say That Means

Have you experienced a swollen lymph node in the arm where you received your COVID vaccine or booster shot?

You’re not alone.

In fact, while you may not have experienced it with your initial doses of the vaccine, there’s still a chance you could see it following a booster shot.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccine side effect is actually more common with booster shots or additional doses than it is with initial doses of the COVID vaccines.

But the CDC said it is not a side effect to worry about.

Here’s why.

Booster Shots and Omicron: Is Moderna or Pfizer Performing Better? Here’s the Data So Far

Both Moderna and Pfizer have released early data showing the effectiveness of their vaccines and booster doses as the new omicron variant begins to take hold and as COVID cases rise across the U.S.

But is one performing better than the other?

Here’s what we know so far.

Omicron Severity, Symptoms, Risk of Breakthrough Cases: What We Know So Far

Experts had been saying that more information on the omicron variant was expected in the weeks following its detection.

Now, about a month since the new COVID variant was identified in South Africa and two weeks since it was first recorded in the U.S., what do we know?

Chicago’s top doctor said that while we are still learning about the variant and research continues to develop, an early look at the latest data has led to some findings so far.

Here’s a breakdown of what we know.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady on Tuesday gave a breakdown on which COVID-19 variant is currently leading the surge in the Midwest. While 99.9% of the COVID cases are of delta variant as of now, she predicted that the omicron variant will soon spread quickly based on the studies from other countries.

CDC Guidelines for COVID Exposure: Timeline, Quarantine, Contagious Period

What should you do if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for coronavirus? How long are you contagious, what are the quarantine guidelines and when can you see people again?

Here’s a look at the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do if you test positive or believe you were exposed to someone who has.



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Chicago Travel Advisory Jumps to 47 States, 2 Territories – NBC Chicago


With COVID cases rising across the U.S. and the holiday travel rush already underway, Chicago’s travel advisory has been updated once again, with a total of 47 states and two territories now on the city’s warning list days before Christmas.

Five states were added to the city’s list, along with Puerto Rico Tuesday, officials announced. They include Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Texas.

As of Tuesday, every state or territory except for Guam, Louisiana, South Carolina, and the Virgin Islands are on the Travel Advisory.

The only state eligible to come off the advisory next week is Montana, which remained below the threshold this week but will need to do so for two consecutive weeks in order to be removed, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

States are added to the advisory’s “orange list” when COVID metrics rise above the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people. Any below that mark are on the “yellow” list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.

“The continuing rise of COVID-19 case rates across the country feels disheartening, but the odds are on your side many times over if you’re fully vaccinated – that means getting your booster shot,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “If you’re traveling over the holidays and you’re vaccinated, please get your booster shot as soon as you can. It gives you that extra level of protection that now, unfortunately, is necessary. And if you’re not vaccinated, especially now, you really shouldn’t be traveling.” 

Just before the Labor Day, the city updated its guidance for what unvaccinated travelers visiting or returning from locations on the advisory should do, adding new testing and quarantining recommendations before and after travel.

According to the city, before travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested 3-5 days prior to departure.

While traveling:

  • ALL individuals regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • In Chicago, wear a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Avoid crowds, try to stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you, and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).

 After travel, unvaccinated individuals should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days.
  • Even if you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for the full 7 days.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

The city advised all travelers to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and isolate and get tested if they develop any after travel.

“We have seen and know that travel is a significant risk factor for acquiring COVID,” Arwady said. “If you decide not to get tested, the recommendation is actually to stay home and self quarantine for 10 days after travel, and you should avoid being around anybody who has an increased risk for severe COVID outcomes for 14 days after travel regardless of whether you get tested or not. Obviously we want anybody who’s traveling to self monitor for COVID symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.”

This week’s update to the travel advisory comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago climbed to 991 per day – up 79% from the previous week.

That figure is much higher than the low of 34 the city saw in late June and now exceeds the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing during the most recent surge earlier this year.

City data showed hospitalizations are up 12% from the previous week. Deaths are also up by 51% since last week, per the city’s data. The positivity rate in testing rose to 7.3% this week, a sharp jump from the 4.2% reported the week prior.

The travel advisory is updated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.



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Long Lines, Crowds at O’Hare Airport as Busy Holiday Travel Rush Begins – NBC Chicago


Long lines were seen at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Tuesday as the the busy holiday travel rush began this week with COVID cases rising across the U.S.

Photos and video from the airport showed crowds of people lined up at bag drops and in security.

Between the city’s two airports – O’Hare and Midway – about 3 million travelers are expected between now and Jan. 3.

In total, AAA predicts more than 100 million people will hit the roads, sky and other forms of transportation over the Christmas holiday.

The Transportation Security Administration reported just over 2 million travelers on Saturday alone. That’s well over the just over 1 million reported for the same day in 2020, but short of the 2.4 million seen in 2019.

United Airlines said it expects 8 million people will fly between Dec. 16 and Jan. 2, more than double the number of travelers from the same time last year and about 87% compared to in 2019.

At O’Hare Airport alone, the airline expects 72,000 passengers will fly on its busiest travel day, Dec. 23.

Delta Air Lines on Thursday said travel demand — and fares — in the fourth quarter are rising, despite the omicron variant, CNBC reported.

But some experts say demand has started to slow.

“You can see however in the numbers that the comfort and the level of confidence in travel is dropping, but not as steep as we’ve seen in 2020,” Trivago CEO Axel Hefer told NBC News.

COVID is once again surging in many parts of the country, with deaths now topping 800,000 in the U.S.

In Chicago, a travel advisory remains in effect with 42 states and Washington D.C. on the warning list for travelers. The advisory is expected to be updated once more before the Christmas holiday on Tuesday.

But while the new omicron variant has many top health officials concerned, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, said the U.S. is in a better position now than it was last year thanks to the expansion of vaccines, which are now available for a wider range of ages, including children as young as 5.

The Biden administration is expecting a series of breakthrough infections with the surge of holiday travelers. Fauci said most people who have been vaccinated and gotten a booster should be fine if they take precautions such as wearing masks in crowded settings including airports.

Local health experts agreed.

“You want to be safe during the time that you’re traveling if you’re on an airplane,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg, medical director for infectious disease at Advocate Aurora Health.

He added that being safe at your destination is also equally as important.

“You want to just try to, as best as possible, avoid large crowds and maybe even more important is just to surrounding yourself with people that you know to be fully vaccinated,” he said.

So what should those traveling keep in mind this holiday season?

“I think the most important thing to remember is how and when to use testing to your advantage,” Dr. Natalie Azar, a medical contributor for NBC News said. “The idea is that you want to do a test really within a few hours of meeting with a family or friends or folks outside of your household.”

If you’re re-thinking holiday travel plans, cancellation policies vary based on the type of ticket purchased and airlines.

Some, like Delta Airlines, temporarily removed change fees during the pandemic.



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