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New COVID-19 cases in the state, suburban Cook County and Chicago increased slightly again in the last week, while new cases in Evanston showed a slight decline. Hospitalizations due to COVID continue to decline. Evanston reported two deaths due to COVID in the last week.

FDA and CDC recommend second booster

On Tuesday, March 29, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of either the Pfizer or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people 50 years of age and older. The FDA also authorized a second booster of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to people 12 and older with certain kinds of immunocompromise, and a second booster dose of the Moderna vaccine to be administered to people 18 and older with the same kinds of immunocompromise. The second booster would be given at least four months after the first.

“Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals,” said Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals.

“Additionally, the data show that an initial booster dose is critical in helping to protect all adults from the potentially severe outcomes of COVID-19. So, those who have not received their initial booster dose are strongly encouraged to do so.”

An hour after the FDA issued the new authorizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement in which it continued to recommend that “all eligible adults, adolescents, and children 5 and older be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting an initial booster when eligible.”

The CDC said, “Data continue to show the importance of vaccination and booster doses to protect individuals both from infection and severe outcomes of COVID-19. For adults and adolescents eligible for a first booster dose, these shots are safe and provide substantial benefit. During the recent Omicron surge, those who were boosted were 21-times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and 7-times less likely to be hospitalized.”

The CDC stopped short, however, of recommending that all eligible people get a second booster. Instead, the CDC updated its recommendations “to allow certain immunocompromised individuals and people over the age of 50 who received an initial booster dose at least 4 months ago to be eligible for another mRNA booster to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said, “Today, CDC expanded eligibility for an additional booster dose for certain individuals who may be at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. Boosters are safe, and people over the age of 50 can now get an additional booster 4 months after their prior dose to increase their protection further. This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19 as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time. CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the City of Evanston have adopted CDC’s guidelines for the second booster.

Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois:  On March 31, the number of new cases in the state was 1,592.

The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on March 31 was 1,189, up from 1,160 on March 24, a 2% 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 20 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on March 30, and 15 on March 29. (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 69 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending March 30, compared to 75 new cases in the seven days ending March 24.

The seven-day average of new cases was 9.8 for the week ending March 30, compared to 10.7 for the week ending March 24.  An accompanying chart shows the trend.

Two Evanstonians died due to COVID-19 during the week ending March 30. The total number of residential deaths due to COVID-19 is 147, according to the city.

Cases at D65 and ETHS: School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven-days ending March 29, a total of 13 students and 10 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the 14-day period ending March 28, two students and five 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 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 64 in the seven days ending March 24, to 65.7 in the seven days ending March 31.  

As of March 30, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 93. As of March 31, the number was 76 for Chicago, and 116 for suburban Cook County.   

Under CDC’s community 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 – 1.7%; Chicago – 1.4%; suburban Cook County – 2.0%; and Evanston – 1.2%.

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 31, 81.2% of Illinois residents five and older had at least one dose of a vaccine and 72.4% were fully vaccinated. (Source: CDC and IDPH)

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

As of March 23,  97.1% of Evanston residents five and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 87.7% 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 461 on March 30. 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 144 to 126 in the last 10 days. In Chicago the number went from 131 to 124.

In Chicago and suburban Cook County the percentage of Intensive Care Unit beds that are available is about 18% and 23% respectively.

Deaths

There was a total of 19 deaths due to COVId-19 in Illinois on March 31. The seven-day average was 12, down from 16 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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