On Oct. 20, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorizations to administer booster shots for certain groups of people who had completed the primary series of doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer vaccine. The authorization also allows people to get a booster vaccine that is different from their initial vaccines. The FDA authorized:

  • A booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at least six months after the initial two vaccines to people: those 65 and older, 18 through 64 at high risk of severe COVID-19 and 18 through 64 with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19.
  • A booster dose of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at least two months after the initial J&J vaccine to individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • The use of each of the available COVID-19 vaccines as a heterologous (or “mix and match”) booster dose in eligible individuals following completion of primary vaccination with a different available COVID-19 vaccine.

“Today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to public health in proactively fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Food and Drug Administration’s Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death. The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to issue its recommendations concerning Moderna and J&J boosters and the mixing and matching of the boosters fairly quickly.

Recent Trends

New Cases: The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois decreased from 126 to 112 in the week ending Oct. 21, an 11% decrease from the prior week. The number of new cases per week in Illinois is now about 4.9 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 lower in suburban Cook County but higher in Evanston and Chicago. The number of new cases per 100,000 for Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and Illinois is: Evanston – 103; suburban Cook County – 98; Chicago – 89; Illinois – 112.

Under CDC guidelines, suburban Cook County and Chicago are considered to be areas of “substantial transmission.” Evanston 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 0.9%; suburban Cook County – 2.0%; Chicago – 2.1%; and Illinois – 2.2%. The test positivity rates are lower in suburban Cook County and Chicago, but higher in Evanston and  Chicago.

Vaccinations: The number of people in the state who are vaccinated continues to grow, but at a very slow pace. As of Oct. 21, 81% of Illinois residents 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, up from 80.9% on Oct. 14; and 63.4% were fully vaccinated, virtually the same as on Oct. 14. 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 28,913, up from 27,559 one week ago. (Source: CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health)

As of Oct. 21, 89.3%of Evanston residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 82.4% were fully vaccinated. There is a fraction of a percent increase in each number from the prior week. (Source: City of Evanston)

Evanston – COVID

Evanston reported 12 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents Oct. 21, compared to 11 the day before and 24 on Tuesday.

There have been a total of 76 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the last seven days, compared to 55 in the prior seven days. In the last week, about 8,500 COVID-19 tests were administered, compared to 12,500 in the prior week.

The seven-day test positivity rate as of Oct. 21 is 0.9% compared to 0.4% one week ago.

There have been a total of 5,436 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 102 of which are active.

No Evanstonian has died from COVID-19 since Sept. 14. The total number of Evanston deaths due to COVID-19 is 121.

Cases at District 65 and ETHS. According to data posted on School District 65’s website, there were four new COVID-19 cases of students at District 65 in the week ending Oct. 19, and 40 students were in quarantine. The data does not indicate if the students were infected at the schools. There were two new cases for staff, and one staff member was in quarantine.

According to data posted on ETHS’s website, for the week ending Oct. 19 there were no new COVID-19 cases of an ETHS student and two were in quarantine. For staff, there were three new cases, and three staff members 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 Oct. 15 and Oct. 21 there were 57 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.

Last week, ke Ogbo, the City’s Director of Health and Human Services, told the RoundTable, “Despite NU’s vaccine mandate, we are seeing a number of breakthrough cases, both in NU, in the community and in the rest of the country. However, most breakthrough cases are asymptomatic or mild. We are seeing a fraction of breakthrough cases in Evanston in comparison to thousands of fully vaccinated community members. It goes to show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing infection, serious illness and death.” 

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 CDC, the IDPH and Evanston’s Health & Human Services Department each adopted recommendations that everyone, including fully vaccinated people, wear a mask in a public indoor setting in areas with “substantial” or “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 seven-day period. Areas of high transmission are considered to be those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-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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