The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 335 for the week ending May 25, 20% lower than the week ending May 19. The number of new cases in the state dropped by 18%. Hospitalizations in the state have doubled in the last six weeks.

Evanston, Chicago, Cook County and Illinois are all in the “medium” risk community level.

“At the Medium Community Level, 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 second booster, if eligible,” according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Researchers estimate that the actual number of new cases is about six or seven times the number being reported because many people who test positive on tests taken at home are not reporting them.

Long COVID

Researchers are expressing increased concerns about what has been called “long COVID.”

While the term is still ill-defined, it is used to describe a wide range of conditions that continue four weeks or longer after the initial infection with COVID, and they may occur even if a person had a mild case of COVID. The symptoms vary from person to person, but may include “fatigue, cognitive impairment (or ‘brain fog’), muscle or joint pain, heart palpitations, sleep difficulties, and mood changes. Long COVID can affect multiple organ systems and cause tissue damage,” says a Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics paper published by the Government Accountability Office.

A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 20% of adults 18-64 years old who had COVID have experienced at least one health condition that could be considered long COVID. For people older than 65, the percentage is 25%.

The study found that the risk of experiencing one of the health conditions was significantly higher for people who contracted COVID than for people who did not.

A large-scale study published on May 25 by the Department of Veteran Affairs found that six months after an initial diagnosis of COVID, vaccinations reduced the risk of long COVID by only about 15%. The vaccines primary benefit was in reducing the risk of lung and blood clot disorders.

Many health experts are citing these studies and encouraging people to get vaccinated, wear masks, avoid crowded indoor spaces and be careful.

Trends of New Cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois: On May 26, the number of new cases in the state was 6,358, down from 7,555 one week ago.

The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on May 26 was 5,125, down from 6,273 on May 19, an 18% decrease. An accompanying chart shows the trend.   

Evanston: Evanston reported there were 76 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on May 25.  (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

There was a total of 335 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending May 25, compared to 420 new cases in the week ending May 19, a decrease of 20%.   

The seven-day average of new cases was 47.9 for the week ending May 25, compared to 60 for the week ending May 19. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

One Evanstonian died due to COVID-19 during the week ending May 25. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 increased to 149.

Cases at D65, ETHS, and NU: It appears that the new cases at the schools continue to 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 24, a total of 93 students and 28 staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

ETHS reports on its dashboard that in the seven-days ending May 23, 50 students and 13 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 20 and May 26, there were 393 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.

Cases Per 100,000

The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois is 282 in the seven days ending May 26.  

As of May 25, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 452. As of May 26, the number was 290 for Chicago, and 328 for Suburban Cook County. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have doubled in the last seven weeks. They have increased from 517 on April 6 to 1,130 on May 26.

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, Chicago, Suburban Cook Cook County, Illinois all in middle risk level

CDC and IDPH look at the combination of three metrics to determine whether a community level of risk for COVID-19 is low, medium or high. They are: 1) the total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days; 2) the new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 in the last 7 days; and 3) the percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. [1]

The City of Evanston reported on May 26 that Evanston is in the medium risk category. IDPH reported that Chicago and Cook County are in the medium risk category.

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″

At all levels, people can 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.

At all levels, people can 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.

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

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. The Evanston hospitalizations chart this week included only two hospitals, not three: Glenbrook was omitted.