Students coming to the UI from Chicago share concerns about required travel quarantine

UI students from Chicago worry what the mandatory travel quarantine means for their families who have to help them move to Iowa City. They are taking extra precautions when they move to make sure their parents don’t have to miss work.


Jake Maish

An empty plaza in Millennium Park sits adjacent to the sparsely populated intersection of Madison Street and Michigan Avenue on Tuesday, March 21, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

Lillian Poulsen, News Reporter

Some University of Iowa students from Illinois are worried about how Chicago’s mandatory quarantine on travelers will affect the people who plan to help them move to Iowa City.

The Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Allison Arwady issued an Emergency Travel Order on July 2, requiring people entering or returning to Chicago from states with high case rates to quarantine for two weeks. This decision applies to states that have more than 15 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents per day, over a seven-day rolling average. Chicago added Iowa to the list of states on July 17.

With the case count in Illinois over 160,000 since the pandemic began, Chicago is working to reduce the spread of the virus. The quarantine for travel is in response to increased transmission in certain states. People who violate the order may face up to $500 in fines per day.

Chicago is located in Cook County, which includes several large suburbs, Park Ridge, Schaumburg, and Evanston, that have issued a similar order. Rather than enforcing this quarantine, however, they are only encouraging residents to follow it.

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As students begin traveling from Cook County to Iowa City for the fall semester, they worry how this order will affect their families. UI freshman Maximus Gonzalez, who is traveling to campus from Chicago, said some students believe this mandate is unfair, especially for people who have to work.

“I think it’s unfair for people who have jobs that they need to go back to, because two weeks off of work is a pretty long amount of time,” Gonzalez said. “I know there’s a lot of people that are traveling for recreation, and it makes sense that they should be the ones that have to quarantine.”

Since the order was enacted, Gonzalez said some students are changing their move-in plans.

“If it comes down to it, I could always bring my sisters who are similar to my age,” Gonzalez said. “Since we’re younger, we can definitely handle the virus a bit better if we were to get it.”

The order in Cook County only applies if people spend longer than 24 hours in a state. If families plan to help their students move, they will need to do so within this period to avoid having to quarantine.

Some students don’t have any other option but to bring their parents who work. UI first-year Annie Gaughan, who is from Park Ridge, said her parents are both teachers who will have to be back in person the week after move-in. They plan to move her within a 24-hour period, Gaughan said, so they can avoid the quarantine.

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To do so, UI freshman Addison Perri said students and their families are taking extra safety precautions.

“When we go to the university, we’ll all be wearing masks and we’ll only be surrounded by our family members,” Perri said. “We won’t be around other people, most likely, so there won’t be a need to quarantine.”

Despite these concerns, however, Perri said students understand why this order has to be in place.

“I understand that corona is causing a lot of people to die, and you wouldn’t want to risk anything to get people exposed to that illness,” Perri said. “I understand the precautions, and why they have to do everything.”

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