On Oct. 13 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved new COVID booster vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna for younger age groups.

The new Moderna booster is authorized for children at least six years old; the Pfizer booster is authorized for children at least five. Both boosters may be given at least two months following completion of the primary or booster vaccine.

These new vaccines are designed to protect against the original strain of COVID-19 as well as the omicron variant.

Said Dr. Peter Marks, FDA director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in a statement issued by the FDA: “Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID.

“Vaccination remains the most effective measure to prevent the severe consequences of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death. While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, as the various waves of COVID-19 have occurred, more children have gotten sick with the disease and have been hospitalized.

“Children may also experience long-term effects, even following initially mild disease. We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible.” 

New COVID-19 cases in Evanston and Illinois

In Illinois, the seven-day average of new cases was 1,501 on Oct. 13, down from 1,661 in the prior week, a 10% decrease. [1]

The total number of new COVID cases reported by the City of Evanston dropped to 74 for the week ending Oct. 12, down from 124 in the prior week, a 40% decrease.

Community risk rating

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois Department of Public Health look at 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:

  • have less than 200 new COVID cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days;
  • have less than 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 population due to COVID in the last seven days; and
  • have less than 10% of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID 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: 95
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID per 100,000 population: 1.28
  • percent staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID: 2.19%.

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:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 82
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 7.7
  • percent staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19: 3.2%

CDC recommended steps

The CDC recommends that people should take certain steps to minimize the risk of contracting COVID 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 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. The City of Evanston says that the state 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 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. 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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