The Illinois Department of Public Health continues to urge eligible people to get the updated COVID-19 booster shot.

“This is not the time for anyone to let their guard down,” said Dr. Sameer Vohra, Director of IDPH, on Sept. 30. “ As we head into fall and face a potential surge in new cases, I urge everyone who is eligible to contact their healthcare provider or local pharmacy to get the updated booster and their flu shot. These vaccines are especially important for those most vulnerable to severe illness, such as those individuals over 50, those with underlying medical conditions, and those who are immunocompromised.”

New COVID-19 Cases in Evanston and Illinois

In Illinois, the seven-day average of new cases was 1,661 on Oct. 6, up from 1,579 on Sept. 29, a 5% increase. [1]

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported by the City of Evanston jumped to 122 for the week ending Oct. 5, compared to 85 for the week ending Sept. 28, a 44% increase.

Community risk rating

The CDC and IDPH look at a combination of three metrics to determine whether a community level of risk for COVID-19 is low, medium, or high. The graphic in footnote 2 below shows how these metrics are combined. [2]

To be rated in the low category, an area must: 1) have less than 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days; 2) have less than 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 population due to COVID-19 in the last seven days; and 3) have less than 10% of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (last seven-day average). 

On Oct. 6, the City of Evanston reported that it was in the low-risk category. The data reported for Evanston is as follows:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 165,
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 2.56,
  • % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19: 2.61%.

The City also provided the following information about the trend of hospitalizations at Evanston and St. Francis hospitals.

CDC reported this evening that Cook County remains in the low-risk category. The data for Cook County is as follows:

  • New Cases per 100,000 population: 91,
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 7.9,
  • % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19: 3.1%.

CDC recommended steps

The CDC recommends that people should take certain steps to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 and to reduce the spread of the virus. 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 number of new cases being publicly reported by the City of Evanston and the State are significantly lower than the actual number of new cases being contracted because many new cases are not being reported. 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 about 750% or more.

2/ CDC and IDPH use 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. If the risk indicators relating to hospitalizations differ, the higher risk indicator is used.

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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