While people seem to be acclimating to more and larger indoor and outdoor gatherings, the trends of new COVID-19 cases are all going in the wrong direction. The seven-day total of new cases in Evanston has steadily increased from zero on June 21 to seven on July 8, 11 on July 15, 18 on July 22, and 30 on July 29. Today the seven-day total is 54.

Yesterday, Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced that masks will be required for students, teachers and staff at pre-kindergarten through 12th grades and day cares across the State. The new requirement formalizes U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance released in late July on universal masking for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people in schools to ensure a safe return to classrooms.

“The mask requirement is inclusive of youth sports and activities, with masks now required for all indoor extracurriculars and sports,” said the Governor’s Office. “In line with CDC guidance, masks are not required for activities outdoors where transmission risks and rates are lower.”

The Governor also announced his intent to require all State employees working in congregate facilities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 4.  The State is also requiring universal masking in private long-term care facilities and strongly encourages owners of private facilities to join the State in adopting vaccination requirements.

The Governor’s Office said in a prepared statement that the new measures are part of the State’s ongoing effort to combat a new surge as the Delta variant rapidly spreads among the unvaccinated. “Since COVID-19 metrics reached their lowest points earlier this summer, cases have soared by a factor of nearly 10, hospitalizations and ICU rates have more than doubled in a month, and the number of COVID patients requiring a ventilator has multiplied nearly 2.5 times over since July 16. 

“In June, 96% of people hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19 were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, with the majority of those hospitalizations occurring in residents under 60 years old.”
Governor Pritzker added, “I also encourage every Illinoisan who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as millions of their neighbors already have. This vaccine is safe, effective, and essentially eliminates the risk of hospitalization and death even from the Delta variant. In short, it’s the best tool we have.”

“Vaccination is the best way we can prevent further spread, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” said the IDPH’s Dr. Ezike. “Data show that the vaccines are preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and are effective against the Delta variant.  We have the tools to turn the tide of another wave, but we need people to use them.”

The administration is providing free testing to all pre-K-12 schools in Illinois outside of Chicago, which received a separate federal funding allocation for testing.

All Illinois residents over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and proof of immigration status is not required to receive the vaccine. To find a vaccination center near you, go to vaccines.gov.

Recent Trends

New Cases: The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois jumped to 128 for the week ending Aug. 5, a 51% increase from the week ending July 29. The number of new cases per week in the State are now 456% higher than they were on June 10, the day before the State moved to Phase 5. The trend is up.

In the last several weeks, the trends of new cases per week are also up in Evanston, suburban Cook County and Chicago. The number of new cases per 100,000 in each region in the past week are:

Evanston – 72

Suburban Cook County – 91

Chicago – 80

Illinois – 128

An area with between 50 and 99 new cases per 100,000 people in the latest week is considered to be an area with “substantial transmission.” An area with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people is considered to be high transmission. See footnote 1.

Test Positivity Rates: The seven-day test-positivity rates in each region are: Evanston – 2.1%; Suburban Cook County – 4.0%; Chicago – 3.1%; and Illinois – 5.2%. The test positivity rates are trending up in each region. For example, the State’s rate has moved up from 1.6% on July 8 to 5.2% today. See footnotes 2 and 3.

Vaccinations: The number of people in the State who are vaccinated continues to grow, but at a very slow pace. As of Aug. 5, 73.2% of Illinois residents 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 72.1% on July 29; and 56.1% were fully vaccinated. These percentages include people who reside in Illinois and have been vaccinated in Illinois or in other states. The seven-day average for vaccinations is 24,988, up slightly from one week ago. (Sources: CDC and IDPH.)

As of Aug. 2, 85% of Evanston residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 78.6% were fully vaccinated. (Source: City of Evanston.)

Delta Variant: According to data published by IDPH, in the last seven days there were 348 new cases of the Delta variant in Illinois, comprising about 2.1% of the total new cases in the State in that same period. Why this is so much lower than national level is not clear.

On the national level, public health experts continue to express concern about the spread of the Delta variant and the relatively high percentage of people who have not been vaccinated. Some estimates say the Delta variant accounts for more than 80% of all new infections in the United States. The vast majority of people with new COVID-19 cases are those who have not been vaccinated.

Evanston – COVID

The City reported 14 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, compared to 11 yesterday and 8 on Tuesday.    

There has been a total of 54 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the last seven days.

The seven-day test positivity rate today is 2.1%.

There has been a total of 4,752 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 46 of which are active.

No Evanstonian has died due to COVID-19 since May 31. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 118.

Impact of Northwestern University. It appears that many of the new COVID-19 cases in Evanston may be attributable to Northwestern University faculty, staff or students. The most recent data on Northwestern University’s website reports that between July 30 and Aug. 5, there were 34 new confirmed COVID-19 cases of an NU faculty member, staff member or student. If the faculty member, staff member or student resides in Evanston, the case or cases would be included in the City’s numbers.  


1/ The State moved to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan on June 11. As of July 1, the RoundTable has been covering COVID-19 metrics once a week on Thursdays.  Specifically, the RoundTable is presenting two charts showing: 1) the trends in the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in two recent seven-day periods for Evanston, Chicago, Suburban Cook County, and the State. The chart also shows the weekly numbers of new cases for each region as of June 10 as a baseline to gauge whether cases are going up since the move to Phase 5; and, 2) the most recent test positivity rates for these areas.  

As discussed in footnote 3 below, the CDC recommends that these two measures be used to determine the level of risk of transmission.  If we see a surge in new cases or in the test positivity rates, we will consider covering additional metrics.

We will also report the most recent percentages of vaccinated people, 12 years and older, in Evanston and Illinois.

2/ In late July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and Evanston’s Health & Human Services Dept. each adopted recommendations that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear a mask in a public indoor setting in areas with “substantial” and “high transmission” of new COVID-19 cases. Areas of substantial transmission are considered to be those with between 50 and 99 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period. Areas of high transmission are considered to be those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period.

They also recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. 

3/ 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 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 COVID tests during the last seven days that were positive. The CDC provides a chart to assess whether the risk of transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high. If the two indicators suggest different levels of risk, CDC says the higher level of risk should be used. 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

City’s vaccine information. https://evanston.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/4af6046cf4684656a4ca95886c2605d1

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...