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‘Think about not gathering’ for Thanksgiving if you’re not vaccinated, Chicago’s top doctor advises

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Anyone with symptoms “that could be COVID or could be flu” should skip Thanksgiving get-togethers, even if they’ve been vaccinated, city public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.

And those who aren’t fully vaccinated “should think about not gathering at the holidays,” or at least get tested beforehand “just to keep the risk for everybody down, and not accidentally introduce COVID into your holiday situations,” she said in an online message.

Unvaccinated people who do gather with others should wear masks and remain socially distant from other attendees.

That was among the advice given by Chicago health officials as they remind residents to follow COVID-19 travel rules and take precautions when gathering over Thanksgiving.

Arwady on Tuesday said people who are fully vaccinated and don’t have flu- or COVID-like symptoms “can gather for Thanksgiving, for other holidays, really without restrictions.”

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Fully vaccinated people can also travel without restrictions over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Those who aren’t fully vaccinated are supposed to test themselves before and after they travel from Chicago to any of the 40 states where the daily case rate is over 15 per 100,000 residents, though the city doesn’t really enforce those rules. Connecticut and Maryland were again added to that list this week, the city said.

Upon returning from any of the “high-risk” states, unvaccinated people are supposed to quarantine for seven days, even if they test negative after getting back to Chicago.

Chicago Public Schools sent out reminders to parents this week that those travel rules apply to unvaccinated CPS students as well.

No states were removed from the travel advisory this week, though California and North Carolina could come off next week. States that remain in the lower risk category include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands.

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in Chicago and across Illinois in recent weeks, with Chicago’s average new daily case count at 567, a level not seen since April.

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