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Still in Phase 4
Illinois is still in Phase 4 of the State’s Reopening Plan. The State will move to the “Bridge” phase when 70% of the population 65 and older has received at least one dose of a vaccine and it will move to Phase 5 (the new normal) when 50% of the population 16 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine.
In addition, in order to move to the Bridge phase and then to Phase 5, hospital ICU bed availability must be higher than 20% and new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the total number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and death rates due to COVID-19 must not be increasing significantly Statewide during the most recent 28 days.
Illinois has met the vaccination thresholds: 79% of the residents of the State 65 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 54% 16 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Three other criteria that Illinois Department of Public Health is tracking have been met. According to IDPH, ICU bed availability is 22%, there is “no significant change” in new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the last 28 days, and there is no significant change in new cases in the last 28 days.
IDPH says, though, that the 28-day trend in total hospitalizations is increasing and the daily mortality rate is increasing.
IDPH has not yet determined that the State meets the criteria to move to the Bridge phase, which is the first step to Phase 5.
IDPH says the Bridge Phase “will serve as a transition period with higher capacity limits and increased business operations, without prematurely embracing a reckless reopening before the majority of Illinoisans have been vaccinated.”
Risk of Community Spread
The charts in the above chart box show that the seven-day average of new cases in suburban Cook County, Chicago, and the State is trending downward. On a Statewide basis, though, IDPH says the 28-day trend of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the State is increasing.
For benchmarks used to assess the risk of spread, see footnotes 1–4.
Evanston – COVID
The City reported 11 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, up from seven yesterday.
The average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 12.1, up from the seven-day average of 8.1 on April 23.
In the last seven days, there was a total of 85 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians, which equates to about 115 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period.
Evanston’s case positivity rate for the last seven days is 1.2%.
There has been a total of 4,519 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 196 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 23 and April 29, there were 53 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of NU staff (four), non-undergrad students (four), and undergrad students (45). If the 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 3,207 new COVID-19 cases reported today, down from 3,394 yesterday.
Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 2,709. The seven-day average one week ago on April 22 was 2,816, so today’s number is down by 4%. The downward trend continues, but at a slower pace.
Today’s seven-day average is up from a low this year of 1,513 on March 15. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
In the seven days ending April 30, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 150, down from 156 one week ago.
The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 3.4% and the test positivity rate is 4.0%.
On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 2,024 as of midnight on April 29, down about 5% from one week ago. This is up from 1,112 on March 15.
IDPH says the 28-day trend in the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is “increasing.”
The number of patients using ICU beds is 475, up from 227 on March 15. The number of patients on ventilators is 235, up from 95 on March 15.
On a Statewide basis, there were 33 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 21,927.
For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 25, 24, 10, 29, 33, 38, and 33 today. The seven-day average is 27.
Variants in Illinois
IDPH is reporting a total of 3,137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State. Of those, 2,069 are the variant first discovered in the U.K. In the last week, the cumulative total of cases due to COVID-19 variants has increased by 76%.
Vaccinations in the State
A total of 11,687,325 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 9,259,706 doses of vaccines have been administered.
As of April 28, 79% of the residents of Illinois 65 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 53% of Illinois residents 16 and over have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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, 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.