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The number of confirmed cases of Evanston residents having COVID-19 grew to 148 as of 3 p.m. today, April 10, according to information provided by the City of Evanston. This is an increase of 4 cases since yesterday, April 9. The trend is shown in the accompanying chart.    

For Chicago, the COVID-19 cases grew from 6,645 yesterday to 7,230 today; the cases in Cook County grew from 11,415 today to 12,472; and the cases in Illinois grew from 16,422 to 17,887.  A total of 87,527 people in Illinois have been tested for COVID-19. The trend is shown in the second chart in the chart box.

The third chart in the chart box shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Illinois each day starting on April 1. The chart reflects a buildup in the total number of cases between April 1 and April 4, and then a drop on April 5, and then a continuing buildup between April 5 and today.

The increase on April 8 was the highest increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the State, and the increase today, April 10, was the second-highest.

The cases between April 1 and 6 increased on average 13.3% each day over the total on the previous day. The average percentage increase between April 5 and 10 is 9.6%.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted black people throughout the nation and the impact in Chicago and Illinois is disproportionate as well. In Chicago, black people are 3.2 times as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as white people and 2.6 times more likely to be infected than Latinx people.

Statewide, more black people are infected with COVID-19 than white people; even though black people constitute only about 15% of the population and white people constitute about 60% of the population.

The RoundTable has asked Evanston’s public health department for a break down of the data by race/ethnicity for Evanston, but it has not been provided the data.

Deaths due to COVID-19 are primarily impacting older people. In Illinois, 92% of the deaths are of people 50 years old and over. The breakdown is as follow: 35% of the deaths are people who were 80 years and older; 28% were in their 70s, 20% in their 60s, and 9% were in their 50s.

Forming a COVID-19 Equity Team

At a briefing this afternoon, Governor J.B. Pritzker said, “Today we issued guidance that vulnerable and historically marginalized communities must receive equitable care so that no person of color and no person with a disability suffers a disparate outcome due to the legacy of discrimination. It’s a moment like this that we owe each other greater expressions of humanity.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said, “Health disparities and inequalities are major concerns to me as the Public Health Director. I’ve always encouraged our agency to use a health equity lens in every aspect of the work we do.”

In reviewing the data, she said, “We see alarmingly high rates of COVID-19 in the black population. This disparity is in both cases and for deaths. Overall, mortality rates for blacks are five times larger than whites, and when you break it down by age groups the disparities are higher. For people in their 50s, the mortality rate is 12 times higher for blacks than their white counterparts.”

Dr. Ezike said there were some pre-existing medical conditions that could explain some of the disparities, but said not to forget “the centuries of structural and institutional racism.” She said some additional issues include “having jobs that put  people at higher risk of exposure, being underinsured or uninsured, lacking access to regular medical care, and the fact that the black population … potentially lives in extended family settings with more people in the same setting.”

She said the State has created a COVID-19 Equity Team that will “serve as the voice and the informational hub and propose specific ways to address the disparities.

“We will not stand idly by when one segment of the population bears an unfortunate heightened burden of this disease,” she said.

Adding Testing and Bed Capacity

Gov. Pritzker said that two community-based health centers on the west and south sides of Chicago would begin to collect specimens and a drive-through facility will be opened up in the Markham/Harvey area to collect specimens that will be then be tested. These new facilities may help address inequities in access to testing.

In addition, he said, the State has been lining up 2,000 hotel rooms outside of the City of Chicago that will be activated next week. These rooms can be used for people who have tested positive for “low-level symptoms” and do not require in-patient hospital care. He added that other rooms may be used for people who were exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and who might need to move out of their home to make sure they do not expose their family or roommate.

The hotel rooms are in addition to McCormick Place, which will have 3,000 beds, and three hospitals in the Chicago area that had been closed and that are being reopened to serve patients with COVID-19: West Lake Hospital in Melrose Park; Metro South Hospital in Blue Island, and Sherman Hospital in Elgin. He said Vibra Hospital in Springfield was being reopened and that the federal government had agreed that the VA hospitals could be used as well.

Gov. Pritzker added that 45 community health centers around the State are scheduled to receive $51 million in federal funds to support them in addressing their patients’ needs.

Whether to Open Schools after April 30

When asked if he would cancel on-site schooling for the rest of the school year, Gov. Pritzker said, “We need to follow what the scientists and doctors tell us. We’ve got to save as many lives as possible.”

He said his decision would be dictated “by where are we when we approach April 30, which is the end of our current stay-at-home order, and what progress has been made and what are the doctors saying about could you congregate groups of people together in the size that classrooms tend to be.

“I don’t want to project what the numbers will look like.”

Methodologies for Projections

When asked about projections, Gov. Pritzker said, “We have multiple models.” Everybody likes to point at the IHME model, he said, but he noted that the range of possibility between the low-end and the high-end of IHME’s projections is 30,000 beds.

“You have to look at several models, and what their assumptions are and take into account what the experts are saying.  … You’re basically taking several models and trying to guestimate where is the right spot to aim for.”

He added, “It’s not just about the peak that we’re potentially going through in the next several weeks. There’s also the threat of a peak in the fall. And doctors tell you if you look back at the Spanish flu and other pandemics and even if you look at other countries that have opened up after they’ve peaked, that you see a resurgence of cases because we don’t have a vaccine yet and there isn’t a treatment either yet.

“So if you really begin to open things up, you’re going to have a second wave, and so we need to make sure we’re fully prepared. We don’t want to have a second wave – and God forbid we do – because other places open up or we make adjustments that are not proper. We have to be able to address that.

“You need testing, tracing and treatment,” said Gov. Pritzker. “These are the three things we need in order to make enormous changes and even then, we all need to pray for the development of a treatment and a vaccine.”