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Panel Recommends Lifting the Pause on J&J’s Vaccine
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that nine additional people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine suffered a rare blood clot disorder, bringing the total number to 15 known cases out of about eight million vaccinations with the J&J vaccine. The 15 cases have all been in women, and 13 were in women between the ages of 18 and 49. Three of the women reportedly died and seven remain hospitalized.
The new information was presented to the Advisory Committee on Immunization practices today. The panel voted to recommend lifting the pause on the use of the J&J vaccine for all adults and adding a label about the rare blood clotting disorder. Federal officials are expected to act quickly on the recommendation.
Risk of Community Spread
The charts in the above chart box show that the seven-day average of new cases in Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago, and the State is trending downward. On a Statewide basis, though, hospitalizations and the usage of ICU beds are still relatively high.
In suburban Cook County, Chicago, and the State, the number of new cases per 100,000 in the last seven days is above 140. For Evanston, the number is 77. The Illinois Department of Public Health says that more than 100 cases per 100,000 indicates a risk of “substantial spread.” The 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%. CDC says between 5% and 7.9% represents a “moderate” risk of transmission. [1, 2, and 3]
Evanston – COVID
The City reported three new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, compared to 14 yesterday.
The average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 8.1, down from the seven-day average of 9.4 on April 16.
In the last seven days, there was a total of 57 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians. The 57 new cases equate to about 77 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 4,434 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 175 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 15 and April 21, there were 28 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. 
Illinois – COVID-19
In the State, there were 3,369 new COVID-19 cases reported today, up from 3,170 yesterday.
Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 2,816. The seven-day average one week ago on April 16 was 3,312, so today’s number is down by 15%. The downward trend continues.
Today’s seven-day average is up from a low this year of 1,513 on March 15. Despite the downward trend, the current seven-day average is almost double that. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
In the seven days ending April 23, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 156, down from 183 one week ago.
The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 3.6% and the test positivity rate is 4.3%. The test positivity rate is down slightly from yesterday.
On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 2,112 as of midnight on April 22. This is up from 1,112 on March 15.
The number of patients using ICU beds is 506, up from 227 on March 15. The number of patients on ventilators is 230, up from 95 on March 15.
The number of hospitalization has declined in the last day, but the trend has been upward.
On a Statewide basis, there were 22 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 21,777.
For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 23, 10, 22, 9, 28, 33, 22 today. The seven-day average is 21.
Variants in Illinois
IDPH is reporting a total of 1,780 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State. Of those, 1,286 are the variant first discovered in the U.K.
Vaccinations in the State
A total of 10,802,075 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 8,610,476 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 seven 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, 2020, 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, 2020, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center said on its website that “the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments [on May 15, 2020] 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, 2020, 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.