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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 9 authorized giving Pfizer booster shots to 16- and 17-year-olds six months after they received their second shot. The authorization was issued on an emergency basis.  

A representative of the FDA said that there is new evidence that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine is waning after the second dose is administered. A booster will help provide continued protection against COVID-19 in the 16- and 17-year old age group, the representative said.

Pfizer said yesterday that a test of blood samples from people who had received two doses suggest that only two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine may not be sufficient to protect against infection from the Omicron variant. A booster, though, enhanced the effectiveness against the that variant.

Pfizer executives said a fourth dose of the company’s vaccine that targets the Omicron variant may be necessary.

So far, limited research has been done. The City of Evanston said in a prepared statement on Dec. 9, “While scientists continue to study and learn more about this new variant, it is critical that we remain vigilant and continue to use all of the tools available to us to slow the spread of COVID-19, including:

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases in Evanston and Illinois are continuing to rise. New cases at Northwestern University jumped to 113 in the week ending Dec. 9.

Trends of New Cases

Illinois: The number of new cases in Illinois on Dec. 9 was 9,301. The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois increased to 7,099, up 34% from one week ago. An accompanying chart shows the upward trend since Oct. 28.  

Evanston: Evanston reported 35 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on Dec. 9. The seven-day average jumped to 27.8.

There was a total of 195 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending Dec. 9, compared to 103 new cases in the week ending Dec. 2. The accompanying chart show the trend.

There has been a total of 6,097 COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents during the pandemic, 192 of which are active.

No Evanstonian has died from COVID-19 since Dec. 1. The total number of Evanston deaths due to COVID-19 is now reported at 125.

Impact of Northwestern University. The most recent data on Northwestern University’s website reports that between Dec. 3 and Dec. 9, there were 113 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.

The Risk Level of Community Spread

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 293 in the seven days ending Dec. 2, to 392 for the seven days ending Dec. 9. The number of new cases per week in the State is now about 17 times higher than it was on June 10, the day before the State moved to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan. 

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston is 263. The number per 100,000 for Chicago is 238 and for suburban  Cook County it is 333.  

Test Positivity Rates: The seven-day test-positivity rates are: Illinois – 5.7%; Chicago – 4.1%; suburban Cook County – 5.2%; and Evanston – 3%.

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

Vaccinations

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that as of Dec. 9, 74.6% of Illinois residents 5 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, and 66.6% were fully vaccinated. These percentages include people who reside in Illinois and have been vaccinated in Illinois or in other states. (Source: CDC and IDPH.)

As of Dec. 9 , 90%of Evanston residents 5 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 78.9% were fully vaccinated. (Source: City of Evanston.)

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

 Illinois Data

Cook county   CDC COVID Data Tracker

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...

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  1. Just wondering if three is a data collection system to determine where these infected people are employed, thinking that would be a good way to perhaps rate their places of employment in the manner that the health department rates restaurants for cleaniness.