More than 20 states and Puerto Rico were already on Chicago’s coronavirus quarantine list.
You can add one more that’s located a lot closer: Indiana.
“Indiana has a very poorly controlled outbreak,” Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.
With nearly 7,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in the last four days by the Indiana Department of Health, Chicago elevated the state from a warning list to its official travel advisory/quarantine list. The decision was no surprise. City health officials last week urged Chicago residents to avoid traveling to Indiana.
Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb provided a brief response to the quarantine order: “Mayor Lightfoot is trying to keep her citizens safe and I’m trying to do the exact same thing.”
On Tuesday, Indiana health officials reported 27 more coronavirus-related deaths to the state’s pandemic toll as COVID-19 hospitalizations and rates of new infections continue sharp increases. The 1,288 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Monday are up 70% in the past three weeks, which is when Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb decided to lift nearly all of Indiana’s restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes while keeping the statewide mask mandate.
The latest fatalities raise the state’s death toll to 3,822. That’s an increase of 111 deaths in the past week. Indiana’s seven-day rolling average of new confirmed infections is up 90% from three weeks earlier.
Chicago’s quarantine list, which the health department updates every week, includes states across the U.S.
But unlike the other states, Chicago shares a very active state line with Indiana. Thousands of people on both sides travel between the city and state to shop, work, attend school, visit relatives or tourist sites, and other activities.
“Unless Mayor Lori Lightfoot is planning to barricade the highways and stop the commuter trains, this won’t have much of an effect, in all reality,” said Hammond, Ind., Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr. “There is no way they can stop Hoosiers from visiting Chicago, and there’s no way they can stop Illinois residents from visiting us.”
Because of a lack of retail shops on Chicago’s Southeast Side, many there travel every day to north Hammond to visit Walmart, Strack and Van-Til grocery store, Marshalls and a host of other retail outlets.
Despite the new order, some Southeast Siders said they won’t follow it.
“Yes, I most certainly will cross the state line,” said Rosa Campos Flores, of Chicago. “I’ve been doing it for decades. I’m not about to change what I do because some elected official can make decisions that would interfere with my day to day.”
“I always go to Indiana, and I’m not going to stop now,” said Elodia Velasco, of Chicago.
Sam Antha said her child attends school in Northwest Indiana.
“Our small section of Chicago cannot provide us what we need,” she continued. “We will continue to go to Indiana daily.”
The quarantine order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Tuesday’s order for Indiana mirrors that for another close neighbor on the list, Wisconsin. It applies to people going from Indiana to Chicago for nonwork purposes, and to Chicago residents returning from Indiana, unless they are considered essential workers.
Chicago resident Christian Anderson said his state is having its own issues with coronavirus.
“Illinois seems to be headed in the wrong direction, too. I hope we don’t get on our own quarantine list,” he said. “That could get complicated.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Michael Puente covers Northwest Indiana for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @MikePuenteNews