In Evanston and throughout the nation, there is reason to be both hopeful and cautious about the coronavirus pandemic. Incredible progress is being made with highly effective vaccines, but new variants of the coronavirus are spreading quickly.

In remarks on April 6 President Joe Biden said the U.S. had crossed 150 million shots in the first 75 days of his administration – on track to beat the goal of 200 million shots in the first 100 days of the Biden presidency.

“Even moving at the record speed we’re moving at, we’re not even halfway through vaccinating over 300 million Americans,” said President Biden. “… We’re still in a life-and-death race against this virus. Until we get more people vaccinated, we need everyone to wash their hands, socially distance, and mask up in a recommended mask from the CDC,” he said.

At the virtual Mayor’s State of the City on April 8, Mayor Stephen Hagerty reported that although Evanston is not receiving as many COVID-19 vaccines as he would like, Evanstonians have been resourceful – going to more than 900 different locations to get vaccinated. More than 93% of Evanston seniors age 65+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 51% of Evanston’s entire population age 16-plus have received at least one dose.

However, even people who are fully vaccinated need to remain vigilant and follow public health guidelines to help protect themselves and others against the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen is an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

CNN reported last week that cases of COVID-19 among younger people are rising. In Michigan, hospitalizations among people in their 30s have climbed by more than 600%, and those in their 40s by 800%. Average daily cases for children have also risen by more than 200%. In Massachusetts, the largest increase in COVID-19 infections has been in children and teens.

“We should be careful, because I do believe that we are in the middle of a fourth surge. This surge looks different from previous surges because we have many of the most vulnerable who are already vaccinated and are protected. But it’s now younger people who are getting hospitalized, who are getting severely ill.

“And I think we have to keep in mind that we have a more transmissible variant…Even if we were able to get away with some activities before and not get infected – if there is something that is more contagious, we might get infected now.

“So if you’re not yet vaccinated, sign up and get vaccinated as soon as you are able to. And continue to keep on masking, and continue to avoid indoor crowds and gatherings for the time being,” said Dr. Wen in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer.

In response to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent comment that it is not necessarily surprising when someone tests positive for coronavirus after being fully vaccinated, Dr. Wen said, “The vaccines that we have are extremely effective at preventing infection, but there is nothing that is 100%. So you are still going to see some infections that break through. …The numbers we are seeing are very, very low. We’re talking about hundreds of break-through infections in hundreds of thousands of people in a particular area.

“We need to see exactly … what variants are involved and also how severe are these cases. If these break-through infections are also less severe, that would give us even more confidence about the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing severe infection,” said Dr. Wen.

Starting April 12, all Evanston and Illinois residents 16 years and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Residents can register to receive the vaccine through the following trusted providers, according to the City of Evanston website:

Until April 30, the RoundTable will continue to post a photo of someone wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Please send photos of yourself, your family or friends wearing a mask to editor@evanstonroundtable.com. Include a short note if you wish.