Editor’s note: The original story has been corrected to reflect the accurate number of new cases per 100,000, which is 191. The RoundTable regrets the error.

The Illinois Department of Public Health continues to urge people to get an updated booster to protect against COVID-19 and to get a flu vaccine.

“As we enter December and the weather continues to get colder, Illinois is beginning to see an anticipated increase in COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as the flu,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.

“Please continue to take all preventative measures to protect yourself, your family, and friends, especially very young children and individuals over 65 who are most vulnerable to severe outcomes,” Vohra said. “These effective strategies include COVID-19 testing, especially if visiting someone at risk for severe disease; enhanced ventilation; good hand hygiene; staying home if sick; and getting up to date with both the COVID-19 bivalent booster and the flu shot.”

New COVID-19 cases

In Illinois, the seven-day average of new cases was 3,034 on Dec. 8, up from 2,666 in the prior week, a 14% increase.

In Evanston, the seven-day average of new cases was 21.3 on Dec. 7, up from 20.1 in the prior week, a 9.7% increase.

The chart below, prepared by the City of Evanston, reflects the number of new cases of Evanstonians for the last 30 days and red line reflects the seven-day moving average.

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

Community risk rating

IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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). 

Both Evanston and Cook County are in the “medium” risk category because their new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 exceed 10 per 100,000 population.

The data for the city is:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 191
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 11.52
  • Percent staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19: 3.99%

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 remained in the medium risk category. The data for Cook County is:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 162,
  • New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 per 100,000 population: 12.8,
  • Percent staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with COVID-19:  4.9%.

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. The City of Evanston says neither Illinois nor the city 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 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...

Leave a comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *