ISBE Resolution

The Illinois State Board of Education today adopted a resolution that all schools must resume fully in-person learning next school year for all student attendance days. Remote learning is allowed on a very limited basis.

School District 65’s Return to School Plan announced on May 17 anticipated that this resolution would be adopted.  

Evanston Issues New Guidance for Face Masks

The City of Evanston’s Health & Human Services Department announced today that it will no longer require fully vaccinated people to wear face coverings or practice social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings in Evanston. This follows guidance recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“In alignment with federal and State guidance, face coverings continue to be required for all individuals regardless of vaccination status in health care settings, schools and daycare centers, congregate settings, and on public transportation,” said the City in a prepared statement.

“Face coverings will also continue to be required for all patrons at City facilities, community centers and Evanston Public Library locations until further notice, as well as at City of Evanston events and festivals, including the Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market.

“Evanston businesses may continue to require face coverings regardless of vaccination status. The City’s Health and Human Services Department encourages businesses to require face coverings unless they can verify that patrons have been fully vaccinated. Businesses should also follow current capacity limits and distancing guidelines provided in the State’s Bridge to Phase 5 plan,” said the City.

Community members who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a face covering in public settings when maintaining a six-foot distance from others is not practical, said Ike Ogbo, the City’s Health & Human Services Director.  

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.

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

Evanston – COVID

The City reported seven 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 4.0, down from the seven-day average of 6.1 on May 12.

In the last seven days, there was a total of 28 new COVID-19 cases of Evanstonians, which equates to about 38 new cases per 100,000 people in the seven-day period.

Evanston’s case positivity rate for the last seven days is 0.6%. 

There has been a total of 4,622 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 145 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 10 and May 16, there were three 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 1,633 new COVID-19 cases reported today, up from 1,495 yesterday.

Statewide, the average number of new cases per day in the last seven days is 1,513. The seven-day average one week ago on May 12 was 1,907, so today’s number is down by 21%. The downward trend continues.  

Today’s seven-day average is the same as on March 15, which was the low for the year. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

In the seven days ending May 19, the number of new cases per 100,000 people in the State was 84, down from 105 one week ago.

The seven-day case positivity rate for the State today is 2.3% and the test positivity rate is 2.7%.

On a Statewide basis, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 was 1,518 as of midnight on May 18. The number is up from 1,112 on March 15.

IDPH 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 405, up from 227 on March 15. The number of patients on ventilators is 224, up from 95 on March 15.

On a Statewide basis, there were 28 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which brings the total to 22,494. IDPH said today the trend in the mortality rate has been “increasing” in the last 28 days. 

For the last seven days, the numbers of deaths in the State are 35, 49, 47, 24, 6, 21, and 28  today. The seven-day average is 30.

Variants in Illinois

IDPH is reporting a combined total of 6,587 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in the State.  Of those, 4,435 are the variant first discovered in the U.K.  

The combined total of variants is up 22% from one week ago.

Vaccinations in the State

A total of 10,551,158 doses of vaccine have been administered in Illinois. As of May 19, 81.54% of the Illinois residents 65 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 58.43% of the Illinois residents 16 and older have had at least one dose. These percentages continue to move up very slowly.


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...