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New COVID-19 cases in the state, suburban Cook County and Chicago increased slightly in the last week, while new cases in Evanston showed slightly higher increases. Hospitalizations due to COVID continue to show decline.

Moderna’s vaccine for young children

Moderna announced March 23 that it would seek emergency authorization in the coming weeks for its coronavirus vaccine for children, ages six months to under 6. Moderna proposes to give two doses of its vaccine, 28 days apart. Each dose will be 25% of the dose administered to adults.

Moderna said in a prepared statement that a phase 3 study found that the  vaccine was 43.7% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in children 6 months to 2 years, and 37.5% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in children 2 to under 6 years old.

“The majority of cases were mild, and no severe COVID-19 disease was observed in either age group,” said Moderna in a prepared statement. “The absence of any severe disease, hospitalization or death in the study precludes the assessment of vaccine efficacy against these endpoints.”

Moderna also announced that it would seek emergency authorization of its vaccine for children 6 to 11, and that it would update its application for children 12 to 17.

A new variant

A new subvariant of the omicron variant, known as BA.2, may make up most of the new COVID-19 cases in the Chicago area by the end of March, Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s Public Health Commissioner, said earlier this week. The BA.2 subvariant seems to spread more quickly than the original omicron variant, but it is unclear if it causes more serious symptoms or disease.

A surge in new COVID cases in several European countries due to the BA.2 subvariant has health authorities on alert for another possible surge in the United States.

Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois:  On March 24, the number of new cases in the state was 1,723. The seven-day average of new cases per day in Illinois on March 24 was 1,160, up from 1,129 on March 17, a 2.6% increase. The seven-day average is about 4% of what it was at the peak on Jan. 12. An accompanying chart shows the trend.  

Evanston: Evanston reported there were 12 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on March 23. (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 86 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending March 23, compared to 63 new cases in the seven days ending March 17.

 The seven-day average of new daily cases was 12.3 for the week ending March 23, compared to 9.0 for the week ending March 17. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

No Evanstonian died from COVID-19 during the week ending March 23. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 145, according to the City.

Cases at District 65 and ETHS: School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven days ending March 18, a total of 16 students and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven-day period ending March 14, 8 students and no 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 March 18 and March 24, there were 45 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.

Risk level of community spread

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 62 in the seven days ending March 17 to 64 in the seven days ending March 24.  

As of March 23, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 116. As of March 24, the number was 49 for Chicago, and 62 for suburban Cook County.   

Under the U.S. Center for Disease Control’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. See footnote 2.

Test Positivity Rates: The most recent seven-day test-positivity rates are: Illinois – 1.4%; Chicago – 0.9%; suburban Cook County – 1.2%; and Evanston – 1.21%.

The CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health 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 24, 81% of Illinois residents five and older had at least one dose of a vaccine and 72.3% were fully vaccinated. (Source: CDC and IDPH)

Data provided by IDPH indicates that only about 52% of the people in Illinois who are fully vaccinated have received the booster shot.  

As of March 23,  97.2% of Evanston residents five and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine and 87.6% 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 562 on March 21. 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 163 to 138 in the last 10 days. In Chicago the number went from 172 to 135.

In Chicago and suburban Cook County the percentage of Intensive Care Unit beds that are available is about 19% and 22% respectively.

Deaths

There was a total of 18 deaths due to COVID-19 in Illinois on March 24. The seven-day average was 16, the same as one week ago.

FOOTNOTES

1/ 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.  

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/indicators-monitoring-community-levels.html

 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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