Public health authorities in Chicago will be checking social media feeds to see if visitors to the city are following quarantine edicts.
On July 2, the city issued an emergency travel order requiring visitors and residents who have traveled to destinations with a high number of COVID-19 cases to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Chicago. Authorities will now check the online posts of suspected violators.
“One of the easiest ways to sort of get enough proof that there was the potential of a violated quarantine order without me having to send out an inspector or do any sort of more aggressive follow up to collect that is to look at social media,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner, according to NBC Chicago.
“They’re in any of the states that violated our order and then a few days later, they’re in Chicago, and they’re clearly out in Chicago, not just back, but at a restaurant or at the Bean or whatever it may be, and they’re posting about that — that’s an example of where we could use that as proof to issue citations,” Arwady added.
“I don’t want to like overemphasize that we’re somehow Big Brother in monitoring people’s social accounts — we’re absolutely not doing that,” she said. “But where we already have a concern, it’s one of the easiest ways to identify people who are not just breaking the travel order but flaunting it publicly.”
Fines range from $100 to $500 a day, but the city has not released information on who, if anyone, has been fined, USA Today reported. Arwady said the city’s Health Department sends warning letters to “people of concern.”
“Where we already have a concern, it’s one of the easiest ways to identify people who are not just breaking the travel order but flaunting it publicly,” she said.
On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will be setting up checkpoints at tunnels and bridges to find travelers from 35 COVID hotspot states; if it’s discovered that they have come from one of those states, they will be told to quarantine for two weeks.
De Blasio threatened a $10,000 fine if visitors from those states do not self-isolate.
“We’ve got 35 states now that have dangerously high infection rates. There’s a lot to be concerned about. What we need to do is do everything that we have learned to do in New York City and do that right, do that consistently, but also we have to focus on people coming in from outside New York City,” de Blasio said. “This is serious stuff, and it’s time for everyone to realize it. If we’re going to hold at this level of health and safety in this city and get better, we have to deal with the fact that the quarantine must be applied consistently to anyone who’s traveled. So this checkpoint effort is going to be a new, important piece of that.”