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New COVID-19 cases in suburban Cook County, Chicago and the state increased again in the last week. New cases in Evanston declined slightly. Cook County remains in the “low” risk level, but Evanston is in the “medium” risk level.

A researcher with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this week that the actual number of new cases is three times the number being reported, because many people who test positive on tests taken at home are not reporting them.

Percentage of infections nationwide

On April 26 the CDC released a study showing that about 60% of Americans had been infected by COVID-19. The infection rate varied widely by age group: 33% of those over 65 years old were infected while 75% of those from birth to age 11 had been infected.

The older age group has the highest vaccination rate and may be the most likely group to take precautions.

While a prior infection may provide some level of protection against contracting it again, Dr. Ashish Jha,  the White House’s new COVID coordinator, warned against complacency. He urged people to get vaccinations and booster shots.

Jha said that the policy goal was not to stop infections but “to minimize infections whenever possible, but to make sure people don’t get seriously ill.”

Widespread infection rates, however, may lead to more hospitalizations and more cases of long COVID.

Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois:  On April 28, the number of new cases in the state increased to 4,593, up from 3,587 one week ago.

 The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on April 28 was 3,214, up from 2,595 on April 21, a 24% increase. An accompanying chart shows the trend.   

Evanston: Evanston reported there were 34 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on April 27.  (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 212 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending April 27, compared to 220 new cases in the week ending April 21, a decrease of 3.6%.   

 The seven-day average of new cases was 30.3 for the week ending April 27, compared to 31.4 for the week ending April 21.  An accompanying chart shows the trend.

No Evanstonian died due to COVID-19 during the week ending April 27. The number of Evanston deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 147.

Cases at District 65, ETHS and Northwestern: It appears that many of the new cases being reported in Evanston are students or staff at the schools.

School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven days ending April 26, a total of 71 students and 20 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven days ending April 25, 34 students and 12 staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

The data does not reflect whether the students and staff contracted the virus while at school.  

The latest data reported on Northwestern University’s website is that between April 22 and 28, there were 189 new COVID-19 cases of faculty, staff or students. Cases of Evanston residents are included in Evanston’s data for the relevant period, Ike Ogbo, Director of Evanston’s Department of Health and Human Services, told the RoundTable. Northwestern will update its data tomorrow.

Cases per 100,000

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 143 in the seven days ending April 21 to 177 in the seven days ending April 28.

As of April 27, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 286. As of April 28, the number was 171 for Chicago and 230 for suburban Cook County. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain low in Illinois, but they increased from 517 on April 6 to 714 on April 27.

The chart below, prepared by the City of Evanston, shows the trends in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 at these nearby hospitals serving Evanston residents.

IDPH ranking of Cook County

CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health look at the combination of three metrics – new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past seven days, the seven-day average percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days – to determine the COVID-19 Community Level for each county in the state: low, medium or high. [1]

As of April 28, CDC and IDPH ranked Cook County in the “low” category.

IDPH recommends that people in a county with a low rating should:

  • Wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
  • Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
  • Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible.
  • Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing) and talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP and monoclonal antibodies.

Evanston in the middle-risk level

Evanston’s new COVID-19 case rate, standing alone, puts it into the middle-risk area.

IDPH recommends that people in a community with a middle ranking should:

  • Wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
  • If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions (e.g., testing).
  • If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease, consider self-testing to detect infection before contact and consider wearing a mask when indoors with them.
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease, have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing) and talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies

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 seven days; 2) new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the last seven days; and 3) the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by patients with confirmed COVID-19 (seven-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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