Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra continues to urge everyone to get the new COVID-19 booster vaccine. On Oct. 28 he noted that much of the nation is seeing an uptick in respiratory diseases, including the flu and COVID-19.
“This uptick makes it critically important for everyone to use the tools that are available to protect yourself and your family,” Vohra said. “Vaccines remain the most powerful tool to prevent serious illness. If you have not gotten the COVID-19 booster and a flu shot for yourself and your eligible children, now is a great time. I recommend everyone in Illinois get fully protected. And if you are feeling sick, please stay home, get tested, and call your doctor for help. I encourage all Illinoisians to do all they can to stay safe and healthy as the holiday season approaches.”
New cases in Evanston and Illinois
In Illinois, the seven-day average of new cases was 2,173 on Nov. 3, up from 1,869 in the prior week, a 16% increase.
In Evanston, the seven-day average of new cases was 13.6 on Nov. 2, down from 16.3 in the prior week, an 17% decrease.
The number of new COVID-19 cases being publicly reported is grossly understated. 
Community risk rating
The Centers for Disease Control 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. 
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 Nov. 3, the City of Evanston reported that Evanston was in the low-risk category. The data reported for Evanston is as follows:
- New cases per 100,000 population: 122
- New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 3.8
- % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19: 3.14%.
The city also provided the following information about the trend of hospitalizations at Evanston and St. Francis hospitals.
The 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: 107
- New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 9.1,
- % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19: 3.5%
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:
- 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 healthcare 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/Thenumber 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 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 factor is used.