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Chicago officials issue travel advisory amid spread of Covid delta variant in Arkansas and Missouri

City health officials noted Missouri and Arkansas reached the 15 cases per day, per 100,000 residents, threshold, triggering the advisory.
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Chicago officials issued a travel warning on Tuesday for Missouri and Arkansas amid an increase of Covid-19 cases there, authorities said.

This is the first time in weeks the city has issued a travel warning. Tuesday’s announcement means any unvaccinated people traveling from Missouri and Arkansas are advised to obtain a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Chicago, or they must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival, a city statement said.

Missouri and Arkansas have recently seen coronavirus cases increase to more than 15 cases per day, per 100,000 residents, officials said.

On June 1, the city noted that no states were at the 15 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents mark. That had not been the case since July 2020, officials said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and this only goes to show that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must all remain vigilant against it,” Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement obtained by NBC affiliate WMAQ.

“That means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public settings if you are not fully vaccinated.”

The city’s department of public health urges vaccination and adherence to all mask guidelines while traveling, officials said.

Arkansas reported last week that less than 35 percent of adults having been fully vaccinated.

Infection rates have worsened with the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus. The highly transmissible variant is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.

As of July 3, the latest date for which data was available, the delta variant accounted for 51.7 percent of new Covid-19 cases that had been genetically sequenced in the country. Two weeks earlier, on June 19, the variant accounted for just over 30 percent of new cases.

Studies have shown that the Covid-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. A recent report from Public Health England, where the variant accounts for more than 90 percent of new cases, found two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be 96 percent effective against hospitalization.

The country has seen an uptick in Covid-19 cases, especially in states that lean Republican, where vaccination rates were well below the national average.

But it’s not just red states that have recently seen an increase in Covid-19 infections. Last week, health officials in Los Angeles reported 839 new infections over a one-week period, a 165% increase from the previous week.

California public health officials recorded 2,411 new infections as of last Friday, with a seven-day average of 3.3. cases per 100,000 people. The state has administered more than 42 million vaccine doses. State officials lifted Covid-19 restrictions June 15, more than a year after its lockdown.

As of last week, Los Angeles County was reporting an average daily case rate of 3.5 per 100,000 residents, doubling the prior week’s rate of 1.74 cases per 100,000 residents.