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On Sept. 11, Devon Horton, Superintendent of School District 65, said the District had planned to begin testing students for COVID-19 starting Sept. 13. He explained, though, that the testing was delayed because, “While the District is 100% ready for testing to begin and has taken all of the necessary actions on our end, SHIELD still needs a bit more time to get testing schedules finalized and staff assigned.
”With the announcement by the Illinois Department of Public Health to subsidize the cost of SHIELD testing for school districts across Illinois, this undoubtedly increased demand and the need for additional resources to ensure the company could accommodate the influx of requests. Thankfully, the District was proactively in discussion with SHIELD earlier this summer and was already at the top of the list.”
SHIELD tests were developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students spit into a test tube and the saliva is tested at SHIELD labs, with results generally available in 24 hours. About 450 school districts in the State have signed up for the tests with SHIELD, but reportedly, only about 80 have begun the testing.
Dr. Horton said, “We anticipate the delay to be minimal and remain optimistic that testing will launch during the week of September 20.”
Because most K-8 students are under 12 and do not qualify for vaccinations, regular testing for COVID-19 is an important part of the mitigation strategy.
New Cases: The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 211 to 218 for the week ending Sept. 16, a 3% increase from the week ending Sept. 9. The number of new cases per week in the State are now about 8.5 times higher than they were 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 higher in suburban Cook County, but down in Evanston and Chicago. The number of new cases per 100,000 for Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and Illinois is: Evanston – 65, suburban Cook County – 51, Chicago – 126, llinois – 218.
Under CDC guidelines, Evanston is considered to be 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 1.4%; suburban Cook County – 3.7%; Chicago – 3.2%; and Illinois – 4.6%. The test positivity rates in each region are each slightly down from one week ago. 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 Sept. 16, 78.5% of Illinois residents who are 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 77.8% on Sept. 9; and 61.1% were fully vaccinated, compared to 60.5% 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 20,648, down from 21,005 one week ago. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health.)
As of Sept. 16, 87.6% of Evanston residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 80.9% were fully vaccinated. This is a fraction of a percent increase in each number from the prior week. (Source: City of Evanston.)
Delta Variant: According to data published by IDPH, in the last seven days there were 982 new cases of the Delta variant in Illinois, comprising less than 4% of the total new cases in the State in that same period. Why this percentage is so much lower than the national level is not clear.
On a nationwide basis, about 80% of the new COVID-19 cases are due to the Delta variant.
Evanston – COVID
Evanston reported nine new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents today, compared to four yesterday and four on Tuesday.
The numbers are better than one week ago. There has been a total of 48 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the last seven days, compared to 61 in the prior seven days.
The seven-day test positivity rate today is 1.4%, compared to 1.6% one week ago.
There has been a total of 5,081 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 55 of which are active.
One Evanstonian died due to COVID-19 on Sept. 14. The overall number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 121.
Cases at District 65 and Evanston Township High School. According to data posted on District 65’s website, for the week ending Sept. 10 there were three new COVID-19 cases of students at District 65 and 66 students were in quarantine. On Sept. 11 Dr. Horton said, “At this time, there is no evidence of COVID-19 spread between any students or staff members.”
According to data posted on ETHS’s website, for the week ending Sept. 10 there were two new COVID-19 cases of students at ETHS and five people were in quarantine. For staff, there was one new case and one 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 Sept. 10 and Sept. 16 there were 28 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