Campaign to Jumpstart Tourism  

In another sign that the State is opening up, Governor JB Pritzker kicked off today a “Time for Me to Drive” campaign to promote the return of travel across the State. This is the State’s first campaign to encourage tourism since the pandemic began.

“After an incredibly difficult year in which the pandemic kept us all close to home and staying apart, lifesaving vaccines are bringing us back to life and heading toward a summer of fun and venturing out,” said Gov. Pritzker. “Today I’m proud to launch the Time for Me to Drive Campaign – inviting people to see all of Illinois, showing off adventures of all kinds: Historic sites and winery tours, State parks and rock climbing, hiking, and zip-lining, hundreds of craft breweries and thousands of excellent restaurants across the State.”

“Featured trips span the State’s iconic museums, world-class architecture, and natural wonders, including Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby, Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna, the Shawnee National Forest, and the Garden of the Gods in Herod. Road trip itineraries also promote the discovery of destinations in and around Chicago, including award-winning restaurants, small businesses offering Illinois-made products and unforgettable locations like Chicago’s Navy Pier, the Riverwalk and of course the city’s diverse neighborhoods,” said the Governor’s Office.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, tourism was identified by the Pritzker administration as a hard-hit industry. As a result, $75 million was distributed to tourism and tourism-related businesses as part of the Business Interruption Grant program, with an additional $133 million for restaurants and bars Statewide. With the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) the administration is exploring additional opportunities to address the needs of tourism businesses facing continued losses due to COVID-19, said the Governor’s Office.

“A return to tourism in Illinois is supported by progress made toward key health metrics identified in Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois framework, as well as a major expansion of vaccine administration and availability in Illinois,” said the Governor’s Office.  

NU to Require Vaccinations of Students

Northwestern University announced that it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students (including exchange or visiting students) in on-campus programs for the 2021-22 academic year. NU said it was making the announcement now so students could get vaccinated before they leave Illinois at the end of the spring term. 

At this time, faculty and staff (including interns and post-docs) are not required to be vaccinated, but are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.

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 continues to trend downward.

For benchmarks used to assess the risk of spread, see footnotes 1–4.

Evanston – COVID

The City reported eight 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 6.1, down from the seven-day average of 7.1 on May 5.

In the last seven days, there was a total of 43 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians, which equates to about 58 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period.

Evanston’s case positivity rate for the last seven days is 0.7%. 

There has been a total of 4,594 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 158 of which are active. 

No Evanstonian has died from COVID-19 since May 6. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 117.

Impact of Northwestern University. Northwestern University has posted data on its website reporting that between May 3 and May 9, there were 10 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 1,795 new COVID-19 cases reported today, up from 1,562 yesterday.     

Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 1,907. The seven-day average one week ago on May 5 was 2,563, so today’s number is down by 26%. The downward trend continues.  

Today’s seven-day average is still higher than the low this year of 1,513 on March 15. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

In the seven days ending May 12, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 105, down from 142 one week ago.

The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 2.7% and the test positivity rate is 3.3%.

On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 1,899 as of midnight on May 11. The number is up from 1,112 on March 15.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said today that the trends in new hospital admissions and total patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 has been “decreasing” in the last 28 days.

The number of patients using ICU beds is 466, up from 227on March 15. The number of patients on ventilators is 246, up from 95 on March 15.

On a Statewide basis, there were 26 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 22,285. IDPH said today the trend in the mortality rate has been “increasing, but not significant” in the last 28 days.  

For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 40, 36, 22, 20, 12, 26, and 26 today. The seven-day average is about 26.

Variants in Illinois

IDPH is reporting a combined total of 5,397 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State.  Of those, 3,595 are the variant first discovered in the U.K.  

Vaccinations in the State

A total of 10,110,969  doses of vaccine have been administered in Illinois. As of May 11, 80.80% of the residents of Illinois 65 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 57.29% of Illinois residents 16 and older have had at least one dose.


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...