Even though the number of new COVID-19 cases in Evanston increased by 14% in the last week, Evanston has dropped from a high risk level to a medium risk level, according to an update posted by the City of Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department on May 19.

Ike Ogbo, the City’s Director of Health & Human Services, explained why Evanston’s community level went from high last week to medium this week, even though new cases went up during the week. “The COVID-19 community level is determined by the higher of the new admissions and inpatient beds metrics, based on the current level of new cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days,” he told the RoundTable. “Last week’s data showed that Evanston was above the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] limit for new COVID-19 admissions. This week, Evanston is at a medium transmission rate which is an improvement from last week on lesser new COVID admissions.”

He added, “This week, Evanston is reporting below the CDC threshold for new admissions and inpatient bed metrics.”

Cook County is at the medium level, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Researchers estimate that the actual number of new cases is about six or seven times higher than the number being reported because many people who test positive on home tests are not reporting the results to health authorities. The transmission rate is thus likely to be much higher than being reported.

Trends of news case in Illinois, Evanston

Illinois:  On May 19 the number of new cases in the state was 7,555, up from 5,686 one week ago.

 The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on May 19 was 6,273, up from 5,618 on May 12, a 15% increase. The chart below shows the trend.   

Evanston: Evanston reported 52 new COVID-19 cases of residents on May 18.  (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 447 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending May 18, compared to 393 new cases in the week ending May 12, an increase of 14%.   

 The seven-day average of new cases was 63.9 for the week ending May 18, compared to 56.1 for the week ending May 2.  The chart below shows the trend.

No Evanston resident died from COVID-19 during the week ending May 18. 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 17, a total of 134 students and at least 15 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven-days ending May 16, 36 students and 16 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 is that between May 13 and May 19, there were 326 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, Mr. Ogbo, told the RoundTable.

Cases per 100,000

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois increased from 309 in the seven days ending May 5 to 345 for the seven days ending May 19.

As of May 18, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 605. As of May 19, the number was 334 for Chicago, and 443 for suburban Cook County. An accompanying chart shows the trend.


Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are increasing in Illinois. They increased from 517 on April 6 to 1,083 on May 18.

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 in middle risk level

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the IDPH look at three metrics to determine whether a community level of risk for COVID-19 is low, medium or high. They are the total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 in the last seven days and percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. [1]

The City of Evanston has determined that Evanston is in the middle risk level as of May 18. According to IDPH and CDC, Cook County is in the middle risk level as well.  

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

  • Wearing a mask indoors to protect those at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • 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 or have symptoms of COVID-19


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. 


 Illinois Data

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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  1. A simple explanation is that it is an election year and Pritzker can’t afford to look inept.