State Not Meeting Metrics to Move to Bridge Phase
Under the Illinois Department of Public Health’s metrics, Illinois will move to the “bridge phase” – a phase between Phase 4 and Phase 5 (the new normal) – when 70% of the population 65 years and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, and to Phase 5 when 50% of the population 16 years and older has received at least one dose of the vaccine. In addition, when moving to both the bridge phase and Phase 5, hospital ICU bed availability needs to be higher than 20%, and new COVID-19 hospital admissions, total COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and death rates are not increasing significantly Statewide over the most recent 28 days.
Today IDPH reported that new hospitalizations for COVID-19 had increased from 99 to 135 in the last 28 days, and that total hospitalizations due to COVID-19 had increased from 1,231 to 1,352 in the last 28 days. Available capacity for ICU beds is 27%.
“Because these hospitalization metrics continue to trend upward, the State has not yet met the conditions to move to the Bridge Phase,” said IDPH today in a prepared statement. “However, the State is close to meeting the vaccination threshold: 69 percent of seniors 65 and older have now been vaccinated. Health officials continue to urge all residents to mask up, socially distance and wash hands frequently to reduce transmission and bring the metrics back in line to transition to the Bridge Phase.”
Risk of Community Spread
Two of the charts in the above chart box track: 1) the total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago, and the State, and 2) the percentage of tests for COVID-19 that were returned positive in the last seven days.
For total cases in the last seven days per 100,000 people, IDPH uses a target of 50 cases. CDC says between 10 and 49 cases represents a “moderate” risk of transmission.
For test positivity in the last seven days, IDPH uses a target of 5%. CDC says between 5% and 7.9% represents a “moderate” risk of transmission. [1, 2 and 3]
Evanston – COVID
The City reported six new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, up from five yesterday and 14 on Saturday.
The average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 8.7, up from the seven-day average of 4.7 on March 22.
In the last seven days, there was a total of 61 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians. The 61 new cases equate to about 82 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period.
The case positivity rate over the last seven days is 1.5%.
There has been a total of 4,134 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 133 of which are active.
No Evanstonian died due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 114.
Impact of Northwestern University. Northwestern University has posted data on its website reporting that between March 22 and March 28 there were 13 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of NU faculty, students, and staff. The number includes people who live outside of Evanston. The City says it does not know how many of these cases are people who live in Evanston. 
Illinois – COVID
In the State, there were 1,761 new COVID-19 cases reported today, down from 2,250 yesterday.
Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 2,358. The seven-day average one week ago on March 22 was 1,852, so today’s number is up by 27%.
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 March 29, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 130, up from 102 one week ago.
The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 3.3% and the test positivity rate is 3.8%.
On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 1,352 as of midnight on March 28. This is down from an all-time high of 6,171 on Nov. 23.
The number of patients using ICU beds is 280, down from 1,195 on Dec. 1. The number of patients on ventilators is 128 down from 724 on Dec. 1.
On a Statewide basis, there were five deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 21,256.
For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 13, 20, 35, 33, 25, 23, and 5 today. The seven-day average is 22.
Variants in Illinois
IDPH is reporting a total of 250 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State. Of those 201 are the variant first discovered in the UK.
Vaccinations in the State
A total of 6,692,795 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 5,577,614 doses of vaccines have been administered.
1/ On Feb. 12, the CDC issued a “K-12 School Operational Strategy.” As part of that strategy, the report says, “CDC recommends the use of two measures of community burden to determine the level of risk of transmission: 1) the total number of new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days; and 2) the percentage of nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), including RT-PCR tests that are positive during the last 7 days. The two measures of community burden should be used to assess the incidence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the surrounding community (e.g., county) and not in the schools themselves.” The CDC provides a chart to assess whether the risk of transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high. The CDC recommends different types of mitigations depending on the risk level. If the two indicators suggest different levels of risk, the mitigations recommended in the higher level of risk should be implemented, says CDC. The table below, reprinted from CDC’s report, provides CDC’s Indicators and Thresholds for Community Transmission of COVID-219.
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/ The Test Positivity Rate. In addition, 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%.
4/ 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.
5/ 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.