If you’re planning on traveling to Chicago, be prepared to have your social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram monitored by public health officials as they attempt to track tourists who violate the Windy City’s mandatory Covid-19 14-day quarantine orders. Chicago’s emergency travel order went into effect July 6, mandating travelers who arrive from states with high COVID cases must quarantine for 14-days. Violators of the travel order are subject to fines ranging from $100 to $500 per day.
Dr. Allison Arwady, the Commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Public Health, tells NBC Chicago that one of the easiest ways to catch potential offenders without sending out inspectors is “to look at social media.” Dismissing concerns that Chicago is playing the “Big Brother” role, Dr. Arwady says that there is no task force in place to monitor social media accounts. However, if potential offender pops up on the city officials’ radar, their social media accounts will be monitored for any quarantine violations.
To highlight how social media monitoring would work, Dr. Arwady uses the example of a person whose social media posts are from Florida, which is on the travel order. Then a few days later, they’re in Chicago, publicly breaking the travel order. “They’re clearly out in Chicago, at a restaurant or at The Bean or wherever it may be, and they’re posting about it. That’s an example of where we could use social media as proof to issue citations,” Dr. Arwady says.
Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago’s Department of Public Health would prefer to use awareness over issuing any fines or any other drastic measures. “This has to be more than just fining people into compliance,” Lightfoot says. “Educating people to understand the risk factors that are out there and the risk they are taking for their own health and the health of every other person they come into contact with.”
There are 22 states on Chicago’s Covid-19 travel quarantine list, including Illinois neighboring state, Wisconsin. Travelers traveling along the Illinois highways will notice signs warning tourists coming from COVID hotspots to self-quarantine.
Ali is a freelance writer within the Black and Hip-Hop culture with featured articles in multiple publications. Follow his Instagram @Choose_Wisey2.