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The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 52 for the week ending Aug. 24, compared to 99 for the week ending Aug. 18, a decrease of 28%.  The seven-day average of new cases in the State increased by 6%; hospitalizations decreased by 4%.   

Cook County, including Chicago, remains in the “medium” community risk level. City officials say Evanston is 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. [1] Some researchers estimate that the actual number of new cases is between six and ten times higher than the number being reported.

New Guidance for School District 65

School District 65 announced its new D65 COVID-19 Health Guidance for FY23 which aligns with CDC and IDPH recommendations. Superintendent Devon Horton said the key highlights include:

  • “Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must continue to isolate for 5 days. They may return on day 6 if they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and they must mask days 6-10. If your child tests positive, please notify the school.
  • “Contact tracing is no longer recommended for COVID-19. Families will be notified if there is a positive case in their child’s class, bus or activity. However, close contact notices will no longer be communicated.
  • “Keeping children home when sick is essential to maintaining a healthy school environment. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines is the best protection against serious illness.
  • “Quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to COVID-19 in the school setting. Regardless of vaccination status, individuals are encouraged to mask for 10 days, monitor symptoms, and test five days after exposure.
  • “Masking guidance will be based on local Cook County transmission levels. Masks will be optional when transmission levels are low/medium. Masks will be recommended indoors when transmission levels are high. Masks are required when visiting the nurse’s office. See full guidance which includes when masks are required and special considerations.
  • “CDC no longer recommends social distancing and cohorting.
  • “CDC no longer recommends routine screening testing in prek-12 schools. PCR testing will still be available once/week at the District office for students and staff. Home tests may be provided on an as needed basis.”

Trends of New Cases in Illinois and Evanston

Illinois:   The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on Aug. 25 was 3,625, up from 3,420 on Aug. 18, a 6% increase. The chart below shows the trend.   

Evanston: There was a total of 52 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending Aug. 24, compared to 99 new cases in the week ending Aug. 18, a decrease of 28%.  (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)

 The chart below shows the trend.

No Evanstonians died due to COVID-19 during the week ending Aug. 24. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at 155.  

Northwestern University. The latest data reported on NU’s website is that between Aug. 12 and Aug. 18, there were 39 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 199 in the seven days ending Aug. 25.  The number was 161 for Chicago, and 172 for Suburban Cook County.

As of Aug. 24, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 70. An accompanying chart shows the trend.

Hospitalizations

There were 1,375 hospitalizations in Illinois due to COVID-19 on Aug. 24, compared to 1,437 one week ago, a decrease of 4%.  

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.

 Cook County is in the Medium Risk Level, Evanston the Low

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 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. [2]

The City of Evanston reported this evening, Aug. 25, that Evanston is in the low risk category. IDPH reported today that Cook County, including Chicago, had dropped to the middle risk category.

 Evanston has fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 people, and the City reported this evening that the City has a 7-day total of 7.68 new hospital admissions per 100,000 people, and that it has 3.83% staffed inpatient hospital beds that are occupied by COVID patients (using a 7-day average). These numbers put Evanston in the low risk category.

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:

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.

FOOTNOTES

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 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

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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