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New COVID cases in the state have dropped from a 7-day average of 32,501 on Jan. 12 to a 7-day average of 1,146 on March 10, a 96% drop.  New cases in Evanston showed a slight uptick in the last week. Hospitalizations due to COVID have shown significant declines.

On March 4, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that three indicators be used going forward to measure whether COVID-19 community levels are low, medium or high: (1) new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days; (2) new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the last 7 days; and (3) the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 (7-day average).*  

“The number of new hospital admissions of patients with COVID-19 per 100,000 population reflects the amount of severe COVID-19 disease within the community,” according to the CDC. “Percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by patients with COVID-19 is an indicator of local healthcare system usage and remaining capacity.

“In addition, new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days serves as a leading indicator – most importantly early in a surge – of anticipated healthcare strain.”

CDC says the new focus is appropriate because many people have been vaccinated with highly effective vaccines, many people have acquired immunity by having had contracted COVID-19 in the past and effective therapeutics are now available to treat the disease.

“Accordingly, at this stage of the pandemic, data on disease severity and healthcare system strain to complement case rates are more informative for public health recommendations for individual, organizational and jurisdictional decisions than data on community transmission rates alone,” said the CDC, “with explicit goals of reducing medically significant disease and limiting strain on the healthcare system.”

The CDC’s paper contains many recommendations depending on whether the COVID-19 community level is low, medium, or high. The level “can inform decisions about COVID-19 prevention strategies, including vaccinations, wearing masks, avoiding crowded settings and screening testing,” says the CDC. “Enhancement of these prevention measures can be informed by COVID-19 Community Levels, to preserve healthcare capacity for adequate treatment of those with COVID-19 and other urgent health conditions, and to protect individuals from severe disease, especially those at increased risk.”  

The CDC continues to recommend vaccines, which it says “are highly protective against severe disease.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health is currently not reporting data using all three indicators recommended by CDC. The RoundTable will continue to report new cases and hospitalization in the formats available.

Trends of New Cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois: On March 10, the number of new cases in the state was 1,398.

The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on March 10 was 1,146, down from 1,601 on March 3, a 28% decline. The seven-day average is about 4% of what it was at the peak on Jan. 12. An accompanying chart shows the trend since Nov. 25.  

IDPH estimates that 99% of the new cases are due to the Omicron variant.

Evanston: Evanston reported there were 15 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on March 9. (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 57 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending March 9, compared to 52 new cases in the seven days ending March 3.

The seven-day average of new cases was 8.1 for the week ending March 9, compared to 7.4 for the week ending March 3.  An accompanying chart shows the trend.

No Evanstonian died due to COVID-19 during the week ending March 9. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 144, according to the City.

Cases at D65 and ETHS: School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven-days ending March 8, a total of 10 students and 1 staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven-day period ending March 7, 3 students and 0 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 Feb. 25 and March 3, there were 62 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. NU will update its data tomorrow.   

The Risk Level of Community Spread

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois decreased from 88 in the seven days ending March 4, to 68 in the seven days ending March 10.  

As of March 9, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 80. As of March 10, the number was 75 for Chicago, and 72 for Suburban Cook County.  

Under CDC’s community spread guidelines, if the number of new cases is between 50 and 100 per 100,000 population, the area is regarded as a “substantial transmission” area.

Test Positivity Rates: The most recent seven-day test-positivity rates are as follows: Illinois – 1.3%; Chicago – 0.8%; Suburban Cook County – 1.2%; and Evanston – 0.69%.

The CDC and IDPH both say if an area has a test positivity rate below 5.0%, it is regarded as having a “low” transmission rate.  

Vaccinations

As of March 10, 81% of Illinois residents who are 5 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine, and 72% were fully vaccinated. Source CDC and IDPH.

Data provided by IDPH indicates that only about 51% of the people in Illinois who are fully vaccinated have received the booster shot.  

As of March 9,  97.2% of Evanston residents 5 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 87.5% were fully vaccinated. Source City of Evanston.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations of COVID patients are continuing to go down. In Illinois the number of hospitalizations of COVID patients dropped from 7,380 on Jan. 12 to 715 on March 9. About 3% of all hospital beds are serving COVID-19 patients.

 In Suburban Cook County the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 dropped from a seven-day average of 235 to 162 in the last 10 days. In Chicago the number went from 257 to 177.

In Chicago and Suburban Cook County the percentage of Intensive Care Unit beds that are available is about 18% in each region.

Deaths

There was a total of 42 deaths due to COVId-19 in Illinois on March 10. The seven-day average was 24, compared to 44 one week ago.

FOOTNOTE

* CDC recommends the use of three indicators to measure COVID-19 Community Levels: 1) new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days; 2) new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the last 7 days; and 3) the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 (7-day average).  

The chart below illustrates how these indicators are combined to determine whether COVID-19 Community Levels are low, medium, or high. The CDC provides many recommendations depending on whether the COVID-19 Community Level is low, medium, or high.  

 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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