In the last week, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to decline in Chicago, suburban Cook County and the state, indicating that the latest surge due to the omicron variant has peaked. New cases in Evanston have also dropped. Unfortunately, six Evanstonians died due to COVID-19 in the last week. The impact of the surge is still being felt.
The Illinois Department of Public Health did not post COVID-19 data today because offices were closed due to the storm. The data posted today for Evanston, Cook County and the state is as of Feb. 2.
A Vaccine for kids under 5
On Tuesday, Feb. 1, Pfizer announced that, at the request of the Food and Drug Administration, it filed what it calls a “rolling submission,” seeking emergency approval of its vaccine for children six months through four years of age. The application is to approve the first two doses of a planned three-dose series for this age group. Pfizer said data relating to the efficacy of a third dose given eight weeks after a second dose is expected in the coming months and will be submitted to the FDA.
On Dec. 17, 2021, Pfizer announced that it was testing the efficacy of a two-dose series of its vaccine for children six months through four years of age. The dose given to this age group is 30% of the dose approved for children in the five through 11-year age group. Pfizer said, “Compared to the 16- to 25-year-old population in which high efficacy was demonstrated, non-inferiority was met for the 6- to 24-month-old population but not for the 2- to under 5-year-old population in this analysis. No safety concerns were identified and the 3rd dose demonstrated a favorable safety profile in children 6 months to under 5 years of age.”
Because two doses of the vaccine were less effective for the 2- to under 5-year old group than the 16- to 25-year old group, Pfizer said it was expanding its study to evaluate whether a third dose of its vaccine would provide more protection.
The FDA, however, asked Prizer to submit its application before the completion of its study of the efficacy of the three-dose series so it could get a jump on evaluating the data.
In its submission on Feb. 1, Pfizer said, “Since the pandemic began, more than 10.6 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., with children under 4 accounting for more than 1.6 million of those cases. Further, reported COVID-19 cases and related hospitalization among children have spiked dramatically across the United States during the Omicron variant surge. For the week ending January 22, children under 4 accounted for 3.2% of the total hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
“As hospitalizations of children under 5 due to COVID-19 have soared, our mutual goal with the FDA is to prepare for future variant surges and provide parents with an option to help protect their children from this virus,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“Ultimately, we believe that three doses of the vaccine will be needed for children 6 months through 4 years of age to achieve high levels of protection against current and potential future variants. If two doses are authorized, parents will have the opportunity to begin a COVID-19 vaccination series for their children while awaiting potential authorization of a third dose.”
“Our vaccine has already demonstrated a favorable safety, tolerability and efficacy profile in multiple clinical trials and real-world studies for all age groups starting from 5 years old,” said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “If authorized, we are very excited about the prospect of offering parents the opportunity to help protect their children 6 months through 4 years of age from COVID-19 and the potentially severe consequences of infection.”
Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston
Illinois: On Feb. 2, the number of new cases in the state was 9,463, compared to 14,222, on Jan. 27.
The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on Feb. 2 was 10,257, compared to 21,286 on Jan. 27, a 52% decline. This decline is on top of significant declines in the prior two weeks. An accompanying chart shows the trend since Oct. 28.
The Illinois Department of Public Health estimates that 85% of the new cases are due to the omicron variant, and 15% to the delta variant.
Evanston: Evanston reported 107 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on Feb. 2.
There was a total of 281 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending Feb. 2, compared to 381 new cases in the seven days ending Jan. 27. The seven-day average of daily new cases was 40.1 for the week ending Feb. 2, compared to 68.21 for the week ending Jan. 27. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
Three Evanstonians died due to COVID-19 on Jan. 28, and three more died on Feb. 2. The total number of deaths to Evanston residents from COVID-19 is 138.
Cases at D65 and ETHS: School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven-days ending Feb. 1, a total of 53 students and 18 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Evanston Township High School reports on its dashboard that in the seven-day period ending Jan. 31, 54 students and 13 staff tested positive for COVID-19.
The data does not reflect whether the students and staff contracted the virus while at school.
Impact of Northwestern University. The latest data reported on NU’s website is that between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, there were 98 new COVID-19 cases of faculty, staff or students. If the cases are of an Evanston resident, they are included in Evanston’s data for the relevant period.
The risk level of community spread
The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois decreased from 1,176 in the seven days ending Jan. 27, to 567 in the seven days ending Feb. 2.
As of Feb. 2, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston is 379. For Cook County the number is 524.
Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, an area is regarded as “high transmission” if it has more than 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 people. (See Footnote 2.)
Test Positivity Rates: The most recent seven-day test-positivity rates are Illinois – 8.2%; Chicago – 4.3%; Suburban Cook County – 6.4%; and Evanston – 2.15%. These rates have each declined from one week ago.
The CDC and IDPH both say if an area has a test positivity rate between 5.0% and 7.9%, it has a “moderate” transmission rate. Over 8% indicates an area has a “substantial” transmission rate.
As of Feb. 2, 80.2% of Illinois residents five and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, and 70.5% were fully vaccinated. (Source: CDC and IDPH.)
Data provided by IDPH indicates that only about 49% of Illinoisans who are fully vaccinated have received the booster shot, which is regarded as important to boost the effectiveness of the vaccines, particularly with respect to the omicron variant.
As of Feb. 2, 96.4% of Evanston residents five and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 86.2% were fully vaccinated. (Source: City of Evanston.)
Hospitalizations of COVID patients are down substantially. In Illinois the number of hospitalizations of COVID patients declined from 7,380 on Jan. 12 to 3,645 on Feb. 1.
In suburban Cook County the number of hospitalizations dropped from a seven-day average of 1,556 to 1,027 in the last 10 days. In Chicago the number went from 1,381 to 857.
In Chicago and suburban Cook County the percentages of Intensive Care Unit beds that are available are 15% and 13%, respectively. IDPH says the desired minimum is 20%.
There were a total of 87 deaths due to COVID-19 in Illinois on Feb. 2. The seven-day average was 101, compared to 123 one week ago.
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
Cook county CDC COVID Data Tracker