Don't let guard down against COVID over holiday, Illinois officials warn

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials urged businesses and residents Friday to comply with public health measures over the July 4 holiday weekend, warning that precautions must continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Pritzker noted states across the U.S. are seeing a spike in the number of new cases of the coronavirus and the rate of positive tests. He said he won’t hesitate to close down businesses that don’t abide by capacity requirements, and he encouraged people to avoid large crowds and wear face coverings.

“Letting our guard down now would fly in the face of the progress we’ve made over many months,” Pritzker said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot late Thursday said that starting Monday, people traveling to Chicago from 15 states with increasing numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival or face possible fines. The order also applies to city residents returning from those states.

Chicago Public Health Director Dr. Allison Arwady said Friday the city will rely on signage at airports and along highways to alert people to the need to self-quarantine. And while officials won’t be out looking for out-of-state license plates or tracking down travelers, she said fines of up to $500 per day, or a total of $7,000 are possible if people do not comply.

Arwady said the 15 states on the list are seeing new cases at a rate similar to what Chicago saw in May, when the city was under a stay-at-home order aimed preventing the virus’ spread. As of Friday the states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 868 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 18 additional confirmed deaths.