Yesterday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced the first case in Illinois of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the variant in a Rock Island resident. Illinois is currently reporting 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.
With the new variants which are more contagious, the CDC is suggesting that people wear a tightly fitted surgical mask or wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask. Recent research by CDC found that the transmission of the virus can be reduced by about 96% if both an infected person and a non-infected person wear a tightly fitted surgical mask or alternatively a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask.
Update on Vaccines in Evanston
To date, the City of Evanston has distributed more than 11,000 vaccine doses to Evanston hospitals, healthcare workers, paramedics, first responders, and those most vulnerable to severe illness or complications from COVID-19. The City says it has largely completed vaccinations of Phase 1a healthcare workers and first responders.
The City continues to prioritize vaccinations for those 65 and older, from oldest to youngest. The majority of vaccine doses the City receives next week and each week moving forward will continue to be reserved for this group until the City has substantially vaccinated those 65 years and older.
Next week, the City anticipates beginning vaccinations of individuals 73 years and older.
Anticipating that the supply of vaccines will increase in the coming weeks, the City is also preparing to distribute a portion of doses it receives to educators, including daycare, early childhood and K-12 teachers, prioritizing those who are or will be doing in-person activities and beginning with the oldest members of this group.
The City will also continue to administer a portion of vaccines it receives on-site to individuals in congregate settings.
Evanston – Covid-19 Cases
There were 17 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, the same as yesterday.
The average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 13, up from the seven-day average of 9.4 on Feb 4. For purposes of comparison, on Oct. 12, the seven-day average was 5.6.
There has been a total of 3,739 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 274 of which are active. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
In the last seven days, there was a total of 91 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians. That equates to about 121 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period. IDPH’s target to control community spread is 50.
The case positivity rate over the last seven days is 1.4%.
Two Evanstonians have died due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 is now 110.
Today, the City reported a total of 460 tests, with an average of 916 tests per day in the last seven days. The high number of tests is likely due to testing of Northwestern University students. The high number of tests of NU students may be pulling down Evanston’s test positivity rate.
Impact of Northwestern University. Northwestern University has posted data on its website reporting that between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10 there were 29 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of faculty, staff and students. The number includes those who live outside of Evanston. The City claims it does not know how many of these cases are people who live in Evanston. 
In the State, there were 2,838 new COVID-19 cases reported today, up from 2,825 yesterday.
Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 2,610. This is the 32nd day in a row that the seven-day average has declined. The seven-day average one week ago, on Feb. 4, was 3,026, so today’s number is a decrease of 14%.
Today’s seven-day average is down from an all-time high of 12,380 on Nov. 17. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
In the seven days ending Feb. 11, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 144. IDPH’s target is 50 new weekly cases per 100,000. [2, 3]
The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 3.3% and the test positivity rate is 3.9%. IDPH’s target to control community spread is 5%. 
An accompanying chart shows that the number of cases per 100,000 people has declined for the week ending Feb. 11 compared to the prior week for Suburban Cook County, Chicago, and Illinois. An accompanying chart also shows their test positivity rates, which are down from one week ago.
On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 1,954 as of midnight on Feb. 10. This is down from an all-time high of 6,171 on Nov. 23.
The number of patients using ICU beds is 448, down from 1,195 on Dec. 1. The number of patients on ventilators is 227, down from 724 on Dec. 1.
On a Statewide basis, there were 102 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 19,841.
For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 82, 60, 48, 35, 20, 53, and 102 today. The seven-day average is 57.
A total of 2,385,950 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago and long-term care facilities. IDPH is currently reporting that a total of 1,549,108 doses of vaccines have been administered.
1/ Northwestern University COVID-19 Cases. Ike C. Ogbo, Director of Evanston’s Health & Human Services Department, told the RoundTable that the COVID-19 cases reported by the City include cases of faculty, staff, and students attending Northwestern University who live in Evanston. The RoundTable asked the City in an FOIA Request to provide the number of NU students who tested positive for COVID-19 and who live in Evanston. The City refused to provide the data. On Oct. 26, the RoundTable appealed the City’s decision to the Public Access Counselor of the Attorney General’s Office. On Nov. 13, the City filed a response claiming it does not have any records showing the number of NU students who tested positive for COVID-19 and who live in Evanston.
The RoundTable has asked Northwestern University on several occasions to provide information breaking out the number of new COVID-19 cases of its faculty, staff and students by residency in Evanston. NU did not respond.
2/ Number of Cases per 100,000 Population. On July 1, a network of research, policy and public health experts convened by Harvard’s Global Health Institute and Edmond J. Safra Center published a Key Metrics for COVID Suppression framework that provides guidance to policy makers and the public on how to target and suppress COVID-19 more effectively across the nation. The targets for new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people are as follows (these are converted from cases per day to cases per week): a) less than 7 cases: “on track for containment;” b) 7 to 63 cases: “community spread,” rigorous test and trace program advised; c) 70 to 168 cases: “accelerated spread,” stay-at-home orders and/or rigorous test and trace programs advised; and d) 169+: ”tipping point,” stay-at-home orders necessary. The article is available here: https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/
IDPH provides these categories and ratings: 1) “minimal” – fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 in a week; 2) “moderate” – between 50 and 100 cases per week; and 3) “substantial” more than 100 cases per 100,000 in a week. In its Metrics for School Determination of Community Spread, IDPH says the “target” is 50 cases per week per 100,000 people.
3/ Calculations. The RoundTable calculates the number of cases per 100,000 using case data provided by IDPH and assuming that the population of Suburban Cook County is 2.469 million, that the population of Chicago is 2.710 million, and that the population of Illinois is 12.671 million.
4/ The Test Positivity Rate. 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.” Link: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/testing-positivity
The Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) says, “A network of research, policy, and public health organizations convened by Harvard and MIT called the TTSI Collaborative has agreed on a 3% test positive rate or below as a key indicator of progress towards suppression level testing.”
IDPH says the test positivity target is 5% or less. IDPH provides these categories and ratings: 1) “Minimal” – test positivity rate is equal to or less than 5%: 2) “Moderate” – test positivity rate is between 5% and 8%; and 3) “Substantial” – test positivity rate is over 8%. In its Metrics for School Determination of Community Spread, IDPH says the target is 5%.