The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 74 for the week ending Aug. 17, compared to 107 for the week ending Aug. 11, a decrease of 31%. The seven-day average of new cases in the state decreased by 15%; hospitalizations decreased by 14%.
Cook County, including Chicago, dropped to the “medium” community risk level. City officials say Evanston remains in the “low” risk level.
The number of new cases being reported is significantly lower than the actual number of new cases being contracted because many new cases are not being reported.  Some researchers estimate that the actual number of new cases is between six and 10 times higher than the number being reported.
New guidance for schools
On Aug. 12, the Illinois Department of Health and the Illinois State Board of Education adopted new operational guidance for schools and early education from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new CDC guidance “eases some restrictions while maintaining a core set of infectious disease prevention strategies as part of their normal operations,” said IDPH in a prepared statement. “The new guidelines drop the requirement for quarantines and ease physical distancing rules.”
IDPH encourages schools to follow the CDC’s new operational guidance on best practices for all infectious diseases and to keep students home if they are ill, and to use testing to confirm or rule out COVID-19 and other infections. Schools must also continue to provide remote learning to students in isolation for COVID-19.
“Current conditions of the pandemic are very different from those of the last two years, with many available tools to protect the general public, including widespread availability of vaccines for everyone 6 months and older.
“On top of that, we’ve always prioritized hospital capacity, and hospitals are not facing the kind of strain we saw during earlier COVID-19 waves,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.
“We want all Illinois residents to continue to remain safe and use all available tools to protect themselves and their families from acquiring COVID-19,” Vohra said. “Vaccination continues to be the single strongest tool in our toolbox to contain the virus and protect people from the most serious outcomes. It is never too late to get up to date.”
Trends of new cases in Illinois and Evanston
Illinois: On Aug. 18, the number of new cases in the state was 5,020.
The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on Aug. 18 was 3,521, down from 4,141 on Aug. 11, a 14% decrease. The chart below shows the trend.
Evanston: Evanston reported there were 10 new COVID-19 cases in Evanston residents on Aug. 17. (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)
There was a total of 74 new COVID-19 cases in Evanston residents in the week ending Aug. 17, compared to 107 new cases in the week ending Aug. 11, a decrease of 31%.
The chart below shows the trend.
No Evanstonians died due to COVID-19 during the week ending Aug. 17. The total number of resident deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 155.
Northwestern University. The latest data reported on NU’s website is that between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11, there were 67 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 is 188 in the seven days ending Aug. 18.
As of Aug. 17, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 100. As of Aug. 18, the number was 147 for Chicago, and 176 for suburban Cook County. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
There were 1,437 hospitalizations in Illinois due to COVID-19 on Aug. 17, compared to 1,506 one week ago, a decrease of 14%.
The chart below, prepared by the City of Evanston, shows the trends in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 at the closest two hospitals serving Evanston residents.
The 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 seven days; 2) the new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 in the last seven days; and 3) the percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. 
Evanston has fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 people, and the city reported this evening that it has a seven-day total of 1.28 new hospital admissions per 100,000 people with 2.67% staffed inpatient hospital beds that are occupied by COVID patients (using a seven-day average).
The city has not said which hospitals or how many hospitals it is considering in making its analysis of community risk.
On Aug. 11, the CDC issued new steps that people should take to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 and to reduce the spread. There are six steps that apply to all community risk levels, another two for people in medium and high community risk areas, and two more for people in high community risk areas. The steps are:
At all COVID-19 community levels:
- Stay up to date on vaccination, including recommended booster doses.
- Maintain ventilation improvements.
- Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- If you are at high risk of getting very sick, talk with a health care provider about additional prevention action,
When the COVID-19 community level is medium or high:
- If you are at high risk of getting very sick, wear a well-fitting mask or respirator when indoors in public.
- If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for getting very sick, consider testing to detect infection before contact and consider wearing a mask when indoors with them.
When the COVID-19 community level is high:
- Wear a well-fitting mask or respirator.
- If you are at high risk of getting very sick, consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed.
1/The City of Evanston says that the state, the county and the city do not have a mechanism to report, verify or track at home test results. Because a positive at home test is regarded as highly accurate, most people who test positive in an at home test do not get a second test outside the home that is reported to government officials. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported by IDPH and the city thus significantly understates the actual number of new cases that are contracted. Some studies estimate the cases are underestimated by 600% or more.
2/ 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.