The City of Evanston has determined that Evanston is at a “high” risk community level based on its number of cases per 100,000 people and local hospitalization rates. Chicago, suburban Cook County and Illinois are all in the “medium” risk community level. At either of these levels, persons who are elderly or immunocompromised (at risk of severe outcomes) are advised to wear a mask in indoor public places. “In addition, they should make sure to get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines or get their 2nd booster, if eligible,” said the Illinois Department of Public Health in a prepared statement.

‘People who are at risk of severe outcomes should exercise caution,” said IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars. “And if someone does test positive, then they should consult with a healthcare provider about obtaining a prescription for one of the therapeutic treatments that are widely available. The treatments are much more effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths when they are taken early in the course of the illness.”

Tokars also encouraged eligible people to get vaccinated. “Data indicates that the risk of hospitalization and severe outcomes from COVID-19 is much higher for unvaccinated people than for those who are up to date on their vaccinations,” said IDPH.

In highlighting that the pandemic is not over, the Biden administration warned on May 6 that 100 million people could contract COVID-19 this coming fall and winter. The estimate was made in connection with a plea for Congress to appropriate $22.5 billion to help fight the pandemic.

A researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the actual number of new cases is three times higher than the reported because many people who test positive on home tests are not reporting them. Other researchers say the actual number of new cases may be as much as six or seven times the number being reported.

Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois:  On May 12, the number of new cases in the state was 5,686, up from  4,148 one week ago.  The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on May 12 was 5,618, up from 4,126 on May 5, a 36% increase. The chart below shows the trend.   

Evanston: Evanston reported 83 new COVID-19 cases of local residents on May 11.  (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

A total of 397 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents was reported in the week ending May 11, compared to 338 new cases in the week ending May 5, an increase of 17%.   

 The seven-day average of new cases was 56.7 for the week ending May 11, compared to 48.3 for the week ending May 5. The chart below shows the trend.

No Evanston resident died from COVID-19 during the week ending May 11. The total number of Evanston deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 148.

Cases at D65, ETHS, and NU: It appears the new cases at the schools account for a significant number of the new cases in Evanston.

School District 65’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that for the seven-days ending May 10, a total of 125 students and 31 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven days ending May 9, 29 students and six staff 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 NU’s website shows that between April 29 and May 5, there were 302 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, Ike Ogbo, Director of Evanston’s Department of Health and Human Services, told the RoundTable. NU will update its data tomorrow.

Cases per 100,000

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 227 in the seven days ending May 5 to 309 for the seven days ending May 12.

As of May 11, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 536. As of May 12, the number was 288 for Chicago, and 416 for suburban Cook County. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain relatively low in Illinois, but they increased from 517 on April 6 to 880 on May 11.

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

Evanston at ‘high risk’

CDC and IDPH 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]

Based on these metrics, the city has determined that Evanston is at a high risk level. Chicago and suburban Cook County are in the middle risk level.

Based on the current CDC guidance, Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department recommends:

  • Wearing a mask indoors in public irrespective of vaccination status including K-12 schools and other indoor public settings
  • Wearing a mask or respirator that provides greater protection if you are a high risk individual for severe disease
  • Wearing a mask if you have symptoms, a positive test, or have had an exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • Socializing outdoors if possible and avoiding poorly ventilated indoor settings
  • Getting tested before attending a family or public event. Home tests are ideal for this purpose
  • Contacting your doctor right away to get treatment for COVID-19 if you are diagnosed
  • Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
  • Following CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.

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. 

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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