Restrictions Loosening Up

Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today the return of the annual Chicago Auto Show, which will be the first large convention in Chicago since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Officials expect to welcome other conventions and tourist events this summer with safety precautions, said the Governor’s Office in a prepared statement on May 4.

The Chicago Auto Show will be held at McCormick Place from July 15 to 19 and will incorporate several innovative safety features – including being held indoors and outdoors. There will be a requirement to wear face masks at all times. Visitors will be required to fill out a medical questionnaire and have a temperature check before being allowed into the show.

“The lifesaving power of vaccinations and the hard work by the people of our City and State has led us here,” said Gov. Pritzker. “In recent weeks, we have seen our statewide COVID case rates and hospitalizations flatten and begin to fall, demonstrating a surge far short of the one we saw over the fall and winter. To be clear, our fight against the virus isn’t over yet – but things are getting better.”

“The trends are encouraging, but we must be cautious as we move forward,” said Illinois Director of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “As more venues reopen, it is critical that we increase the number of people who are vaccinated.  Immunity is how we stop transmission of this virus, but we need greater community immunity and that requires as many of us as possible getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Statewide, 55% of people 16 and over and 79% of people 65 and over have received their first dose of the vaccine, helping bring down increases in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As these metrics continue to stabilize and decline, the State could soon move into the “Bridge Phase” of the Restore Illinois Reopening Plan, said the Governor’s Office. For conventions, this will mean events with the lesser of 1,000 people or 60% capacity.

Following a 28-day period of continued stability or decline in key COVID-19 metrics, the State would then move into Phase 5, with all capacity limits lifted. The State is on track to be in Phase 5 in July, said the Governor’s Office.

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, the Illinois Department of Public Health 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 nine new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, compared to three yesterday.   

The average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is eight, down from the seven-day average of 11.9 on April 27.

In the last seven days, there was a total of 56 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians, which equates to about 76 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period.

Evanston’s case positivity rate for the last seven days is 0.8%. 

There has been a total of 4,545 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 181 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 26 and May 2 there were 35 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 2,211 new COVID-19 cases reported today, compared to 2,049 yesterday.     

Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 2,608. The seven-day average one week ago on April 26 was 2,706, 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 May 4, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 144, down from 149 one week ago.

The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 3.3% and the test positivity rate is 4.0%.

On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 2,074 as of midnight on May 3, down about 5% from one week ago. This is up from 1,112 on March 15.

IDPH said today that  the 28-day trend in the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is “increasing.”

The number of patients using ICU beds is 493, up from 227 on March 15. The number of patients on ventilators is 268, up from 95 on March 15.

On a Statewide basis, there were 19 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 22,066.

For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are  

33, 38, 33, 32, 27, 28, and 19 today. The seven-day average is 30.

Variants in Illinois

IDPH is reporting a total of 4,319 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State. Of those, 2,832 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 66%.

Vaccinations in the State

A total of 11,979,775 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 9,450,418 doses of vaccines have been administered.

As of May 4, 79% of the residents of Illinois 65 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; and 55% 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:

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:

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.

Bridge phase A Bridge to Phase 5 (

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...