IDPH Focuses on College Students

Today, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced “College Vaccination Days” to encourage all community college and public and private university students across Illinois to get vaccinated at mass vaccination sites. This weekend and next week State-supported mass vaccination sites across Illinois will have COVID-19 vaccination appointments available for college and university students, said IDPH in a prepared statement. IDPH is partnering with colleges and universities in Illinois to help them direct their students to State-supported sites.

Beginning in April, the highest case count in Illinois was among people in their 20s. Over the past month, cases among those 18-24 years of age doubled, said IDPH.

“College campuses are microcosms of the communities in which they are located, and if we see an increase in cases on campus, we will see an increase in cases in the community,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Especially as we are starting to see variants become more prevalent and the number of cases and hospitals increasing Statewide, we need to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. With young people driving our increase in cases, this is an important opportunity for our college and university students to protect themselves and their communities.”

Boosters and Annual Vaccines?

Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla reportedly said earlier this month that people may need to get a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine or a booster shot within six to 12 months after they received their second dose, and that it is possible that people would need to get vaccinations on annual basis after that. This is all subject to further testing and research.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have said their vaccines are highly effective for up to six months, but more data is needed to determine how long the vaccines will be effective after that, especially in light of new variants.

Yesterday David Kessler, the Biden administration’s COVID response chief science officer, said the U.S. should plan for booster shots in the future to protect against variants. He did not say this would happen, but only that the U.S. should be planning ahead.    

Risk of Community Spread

The charts in the above chart box show that new cases are continuing to rise in suburban Cook County, Chicago, and Illinois.

For total cases in the last seven days per 100,000 people, IDPH says that more than 100 cases indicates a risk of “substantial spread.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that more than 100 cases indicates a risk of “high transmission.” [1, 2, 3, and 4]

For test positivity in the last seven days, IDPH uses a target of 5%. The CDC says between 5% and 7.9% represents a “moderate” risk of transmission. [1, 2, and 3]

Evanston – COVID

The City reported seven new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, down from 11 yesterday.   

The average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 9.4, down from the seven-day average of 12.1 on April 9.

In the last seven days, there was a total of 66 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians. The 66 new cases equate to about 89 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period.

Evanston’s case positivity rate for the last seven days is 1.0%. 

There has been a total of 4,377 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 208 of which are active. 

No Evanstonian has died due to COVID-19 since April 10. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 116.

Impact of Northwestern University. Northwestern University has posted data on its website reporting that between April 9 and April 15, there were 29 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of NU faculty, staff, and students. If the faculty, staff, or students reside in Evanston, they are included in the City’s numbers. The number reported by NU, though, includes people who live outside of Evanston. [5]

Illinois – COVID-19

In the State, there were 3,866 new COVID-19 cases reported today, up from 3,581 yesterday.   

Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 3,312. The seven-day average one week ago on April 9 was 3,122, so today’s number is up by 6%. The average number is up 26% in the last two weeks.

Today’s seven-day average is up from a low this year of 1,513 on March 15. Cases have more than doubled since then. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

In the seven days ending April 15, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 183, up from 172 one week ago.

The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 4.2% and the test positivity rate is 4.9%.

On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 2,058 as of midnight on April 15. This is up from 1,112 on March 15.

The number of patients using ICU beds is 468, up from 227 on March 15. The number of patients on ventilators is 205, up from 95 on March 15.

On a Statewide basis, there were 21 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 21,630.

For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 13, 16, 18, 17, 30, 40, and 21 today. The seven-day average is 22.

Variants in Illinois

IDPH is reporting a total of 1,203 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State. Of those 888 are the variant first discovered in the U.K.

Vaccinations in the State

A total of 9,777,825 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 7,779,290 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.

CDC’s guidelines are available here: Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention | CDC

 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:

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:

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.

Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention | CDC

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...