Progress as of June 5 in Meeting the Criteria to Move to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan
The Restore Illinois plan contains three criteria relating to the trend in hospitalizations, the surge capacity of hospitals, and the positivity rate of testing that must be met for a region of the State to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4. The plan also has an “internal goal” relating to contact tracing. An article explaining the criteria is available here.
This article provides data as of June 5 showing how the Northeast Region is doing in terms of meeting the mandatory criteria, and it also provides data showing the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
New COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Surge Capacity
While the Restore Illinois criteria focus on the number of hospitalizations, rather than new COVID-19 cases, the number of new cases is still important, because about 30% of the people who test positive for COVID-19 are hospitalized, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of Illinois Department of Public Health. In addition, people may be infectious even if they are not hospitalized.*
The data below show new COVID-19 cases in Evanston, Cook County, and Illinois, and the decline in hospitalizations in the Northeast Region.
New COVID-19 Cases
New cases and deaths of Evanstonians: There was one new case of COVID-19 reported for Evanston residents today, following two days in which no new cases were reported. The total number of confirmed cases of Evanstonians increased to 729, of which 112 remain active, according to information provided by the City of Evanston. The trend is shown in the above chart.
No Evanston resident lost their life to the virus in the last 24 hours, so the total remains at 49. About 75% of the people who died of COVID-19 were residents of long-term care facilities.
Cases and deaths in Cook County and Illinois: There were 516 new cases of COVID-19 in Cook County in the last 24 hours, and 1,156 in the State.
Between June 1 and June 5, the average number of new COVID-19 cases in Cook County was 684, and in the State, it was 1,131. The trend is shown in the smaller chart above.
The number of deaths in Illinois due to COVID-19 increased by 59 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Illinois to 5,795.
Hospital Admissions and Surge Capacity in the Northeast Region
Two metrics being used to determine if a region may move to Phase 4 are that there be no overall increase in hospital admissions for 28 days and that hospitals in the region have an unused bed capacity of at least 14%.
IDPH reports that in the last 28 days hospitalizations in the Northeast Region declined by 71%. IDPH does not report the number of hospitalizations in the Region.
The Northeast Region has available 30% of its medical/surgical beds, 36% of its ICU beds, and 70% of its ventilators. This easily meets the minimum capacity of 14%.
On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 3,336 on May 29 (the date the State moved to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan). On June 4, the number had declined to 2,911.
Adequacy of Testing
Widespread testing is essential to controlling the spread of the COVID-9 virus and to open an economy safely.
Yesterday, Dr. Ezike urged anyone who participated in the protests following the death of George Floyd to be tested for COVID-19. Tests are now available to everyone regardless of symptoms at 11 state-run sites.
“As people gather in large crowds with varying degrees of social distancing, there is cause for concern about COVID-19 spread and outbreaks, especially if masks were not worn universally,” said Dr. Ezike in a prepared statement. “I urge anyone who recently attended a rally, protest, or other mass gathering to get tested for COVID-19 so we can identify any cases early.”
One measure used by researchers to assess whether the amount of testing is adequate is to look at the percent of people who test positive on COVID-19 tests. The World Health Organization said on May 15 that the test-positive rate should be below 5% before opening an economy. A higher test-positive rate reflects that there is an inadequate amount of testing. **
In the Restore Illinois plan, one criterion to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 is that a region have a test-positive rate below 20%. In determining whether this criterion is met, IDPH says it will use a seven-day rolling average.
IDPH reported that the test-positive rate for the Northeast Region as of June 5 was 11%, down 5 percentage points in the last 14 days.
While the Northeast Region meets the criterion of the Restore Illinois Plan, it is about twice the rate recommended by WHO.
The Number of Tests in Illinois
In a May 7 study, the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) estimated that Illinois needed to be administering 64,167 tests a day in order to safely open the economy. On the same day, Gov. Pritzker said, “I think we’re going to need many more tests than that.”***
While the State has almost quadrupled the number of tests it has been administering in the last eight weeks, the average number of tests per day between June 1 and June 5 is 20,982, still far short of the target of 64,167 set by HGHI.
Widespread contact tracing is also essential to controlling the spread of the COVID-9 virus and to open an economy safely.
In its criteria to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4, the Restore Illinois plan provides with respect to this criterion: “Begin contact tracing and monitoring within 24 hours of diagnosis for more than 90% of cases in region.”
While both Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike say that contact tracing is essential to open an economy safely, it appears that the regions will not be required to meet this criterion to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4. Dr. Ezike said it is an “internal goal.”
IDPH is not monitoring this criterion for any region.
On a Statewide basis, Gov. Pritzker said on May 29 that contact tracing is only being done on about 30% of the known cases, far short of the 90% goal.
* IDPH reports only the number of COVID-19 cases which have been confirmed through a test. The number does not include people who are infected, but who have not been tested, which may include people who are asymptomatic or who have minor symptoms.
On May 21, the Imperial College, London, published “Report 23: State-level tracking of COVID-19 in the United States” on May 21, 2020. One part of the study estimates the number of infectious individuals in every state in the U.S., including Illinois, as of May 17, which includes people who have not been tested for COVID-19 and who may be asymptomatic. As of May 17, the report estimates that there were 176,000 infectious individuals in Illinois, with a potential range of a low of 54,000 to a high of 395,000.
The report says, “Despite new infections being in a steep decline in the United States, the number of people still infectious, and therefore able to sustain onward transmission, can still be large. This discrepancy underscores the importance of testing and case based isolation as a means to control transmission.”
** On May 26, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center said on its website that “the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments [on May 15] that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing (i.e., out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days.”
Johns Hopkins explains, “The rate of positivity is an important indicator, because it can provide insights into whether a community is conducting enough testing to find cases. If a community’s positivity is high, it suggests that that community may largely be testing the sickest patients and possibly missing milder or asymptomatic cases. A lower positivity may indicate that a community is including in its testing patients with milder or no symptoms.” Link: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/testing-positivity
***Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, the Faculty Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (“HGHI), and two colleagues conclude in a May 7 report, “HGHI and NPR publish new state testing targets” that, on a nationwide basis, 900,000 tests for COVID-19 are needed each day to open the economy. They also provide estimates of the tests each state should be ready to provide by May 15. For Illinois, they say that 64,167 tests a day are needed. Link to HGHI’s report: https://globalepidemics.org/2020/05/07/hghi-projected-tests-needed-may15/
And link to accompanying article: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/07/851610771/u-s-coronavirus-testing-still-falls-short-hows-your-state-doing
A report, “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience,” published by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, concludes that on a nationwide basis the nation needs to be doing 5 million tests per day by early June to deliver a safe social reopening. ” Link: https://ethics.harvard.edu/files/center-for-ethics/files/roadmaptopandemicresilience_updated_4.20.20_0.pdf