“COVID-19 tests remain a critical tool that can help limit the spread of the virus,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra in a prepared statement today. “A positive test early in the course of your illness allows you to protect yourself by providing an opportunity to seek treatment earlier, likely reducing severe disease.

“A positive test also allows you to protect your loved ones and community by knowing when to stay home and not spread the disease to others.”

Vohra continued to strongly recommend that all Illinoisans protect themselves by getting fully up-to-date with a COVID-19 bivalent booster shot and a flu shot ahead of the winter respiratory virus season and the holidays.

New COVID-19 cases in Evanston and Illinois

In Illinois, the seven-day average of new cases was 1,926 on Nov. 10, down from 2,173 in the prior week, an 11% decrease.

In Evanston, the seven-day average of new cases was 16.0 on Nov. 9, up from 15.0 in the prior week, a 7% increase.

However, the number of new COVID-19 cases being publicly reported is grossly understated. [1]

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. [2]

To be rated in the low category, an area must have:

  • less than 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days;
  • less than 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 population due to COVID-19 in the last seven days; and
  • 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 was:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 144,
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 3.1,
  • % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19:  3.1%.

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 moved into the medium risk category. The data for Cook County was:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 113,
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 10.3,
  • % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19:  3.6%.

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 of Illinois are significantly lower than the actual number of new cases being contracted. Evanston health officials say 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.

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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