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President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 announced a broad plan “to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.”

He said, “We have a tool to combat the virus,” but added that we need to “come together as a country and use those tools. …  Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective and free.

“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”

Biden said he plans to require all federal employees of the executive branch to get vaccinated or to face disciplinary measures if they refuse. There will be limited exemptions for religious reasons or because of a disability.  

He plans to require employees of federal contractors to get vaccinated or tested every week and to require hospitals and other institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to require their employees to get vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis.

He will also instruct the Department of Labor to draft an emergency rule mandating that all businesses with more than 100 employees either require their employees to get vaccinated or face mandatory weekly testing.

He said he will use the Defense Production Act to increase the production of rapid testing kits and would work with Amazon, Walmart and other retailers to expand their availability.

The President also announced that he will support booster shots if they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and some ways to increase the safety of school-aged children.

Recent Trends

New Cases: The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois declined from 231 to 211 for the week ending Sept. 9, a 9% decrease from the previous week. The number of new weekly cases in the State is now about nine times higher than it was on June 10, the day before the State moved to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan. 

The above chart illustrates that the trends of new cases per week are also down in suburban Cook County and Chicago. There was a slight increase in Evanston. The number of new cases per 100,000 for Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and Illinois is: Evanston – 82; suburban Cook County – 132; Chicago – 138; and Illinois – 211.

Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Evanston is considered an area with “substantial transmission.” Suburban Cook County, Chicago and Illinois are considered to be areas of “high transmission.” See footnote 2.

Test Positivity Rates: The seven-day test-positivity rates in each region are: Evanston 1.6%; suburban Cook County – 4.1%; Chicago – 3.8%; and Illinois – 5.1%. The test positivity rates in each region are each slightly down from one week ago. See footnotes 2 and 3.

Vaccinations: The number of Illinoisans who are vaccinated continues to grow, but at a very slow pace. As of Sept. 2, 77.8% of Illinois residents 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 77% on Sept. 2; and 60.5% were fully vaccinated, compared with 59.8% on Aug. 26. 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 21,005, down from 40,048 one week ago. (Source: CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health.)

As of Sept. 9, 87.2% of Evanston residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 80.6% were fully vaccinated. There is a fraction of a percentage point increase in each number from the prior week. (Source: City of Evanston.)

Delta Variant: According to the IDPH, in the last seven days there were 303 new cases of the Delta variant in Illinois, comprising less than 1% of the total new cases in the State in that same period. On a nationwide basis, about 80% of new COVID-19 cases are due to the Delta variant. Why this percentage is so much lower than the national level is not clear.

Evanston – COVID

Evanston reported seven new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, compared with 13 yesterday, and five on Tuesday.    

The numbers are slightly worse today than one week ago. There has been a total of 61 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the last seven days, compared to 58 in the prior seven days.

The seven-day test positivity rate today is 1.6%, compared with 1.8% one week ago.

There has been a total of 5,033 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 63 of which are active.

No Evanstonian had died from COVID-19 in the week ending Sept. 9. The overall number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 120.

Cases at District 65 and ETHS. According to data posted on School District 65’s website, for the week ending Sept. 3, there were nine new COVID-19 cases of district students, and 71 students were in quarantine. According to data posted on ETHS’s website, for the week ending Sept. 3, there were three new COVID-19 cases of students at ETHS and 10 were in quarantine. The data does not indicate if the students were infected at the schools.

Impact of Northwestern University. The most recent data on Northwestern University’s website reports that between Aug. 20 and Aug. 26, there were 29 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.  

FOOTNOTES

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

 

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