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New COVID-19 cases in Evanston, Chicago and the state increased again in the last week. New cases in the state increased by almost 20%. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain at relatively low levels.

Developing clarity on boosters

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration met April 6 and began discussing a long-term strategy on the composition of booster shots and the specific COVID-19 variants the boosters should be designed to protect against. The FDA convened the meeting of independent experts to assist the agency in developing a general framework that will inform its regulatory decision-making going forward.  

“As we prepare for future needs to address COVID-19, prevention in the form of vaccines remains our best defense against the disease and any potentially severe consequences,” said Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Now is the time to discuss the need for future boosters as we aim to move forward safely, with COVID-19 becoming a virus like others such as influenza that we prepare for, protect against, and treat. Bringing together our panel of expert scientific external advisors in an open, transparent discussion about booster vaccination is an important step to gain insight, input and expert advice as we begin to formulate the best regulatory strategy to address COVID-19 and virus variants going forward.”

Dr. Doran Fink, an FDA official, told the committee, “The what and why of the recommendation should be readily apparent to patients, health-care providers, and state and local public health authorities, which is critical to achieving buy-in and avoiding confusion.”

While no decision was reached at the meeting, the fact it was held indicates the FDA is concerned about potential surges in the future, and concerned that the COVID-19 virus or variants will potentially be around for a long time in one form or another.

The committee is expected to meet again within the next few months.

Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois:  On April 7 the number of new cases in the state was 1,496.

 The seven-day average of new cases per day in Illinois on April 7 was 1,412, up from 1,189 on March 31, a 19% 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 13 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on April 6 and 24 new cases on April 5. (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 95 new COVID-19 cases per day of Evanston residents in the week ending April 6, compared to 72 new cases in the seven days ending March 31.

The seven-day average of new cases was 13.6 for the week ending April 6, compared to 10.1 for the week ending March 31. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

No Evanstonian died due to COVID-19 during the week ending April 6. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 147.

Cases at District 65 and ETHS: School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven-days ending April 4, a total of 33 students and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven days ending April 4, 12 students and four 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 April 1 and April 7 there were 157 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 66 in the seven days ending March 31 to 78 in the seven days ending April 7.  

As of April 6, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 128. As of April 7, the number was 98 for Chicago, and 99 for suburban Cook County.   

Under the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’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 – 2.2%; Chicago – 1.7%; suburban Cook County – 1.9%; and Evanston – 1.14%.

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 31, 81.2% of Illinois residents five and older had at least one dose of a vaccine and 72.6% were fully vaccinated. (Source: CDC and IDPH)

Data provided by IDPH indicates that only about 53% of Illinois residents who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot.  

As of March 30,  97.2% of Evanston residents five and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 87.8% 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 517 on April 6.  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 124 to 113 in the last 10 days. In Chicago the number went from 124 to 131.

In Chicago and suburban Cook County the percentage of Intensive Care Unit beds that are available is about 18% and 21% respectively.

Deaths

There was a total of 11 deaths due to COVId-19 in Illinois on April 7. The seven-day average was 11, down from 12 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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