COVID-19 update as of June 30: Cook County jumps to a ‘high’ community risk level, Evanston remains in the ‘medium’ risk level.
The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 191 for the week ending June 29, 12% higher than the week ending June 23. The number of new cases in the State increased by about 17%. Hospitalizations increased slightly.
Cook County, including Chicago, is ranked in the “high” community risk level. City officials say Evanston is in the “medium” risk level.
The number of new cases being reported is significantly lower than the actual number of new cases being contracted because many new cases are not being reported. 
On June 28, an advisory committee of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration met to discuss “whether and how” the composition of vaccines developed to prevent COVID-19 should be modified.” A briefing paper asked, “Does the committee recommend inclusion of a SARS-CoV-2 Omicron component for COVID-19 booster vaccines in the United States?”
There is still significant uncertainty about where the virus is headed and how it will evolve. But the committee appeared to favor a vaccine that would be a combination of the existing vaccine and also be tailored to address the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants now account for more than 50% of the new cases in the United States.
The committee recommended, by a 19-2 vote, that updated COVID-19 booster shots target the Omicron variant or one of its subvariants, rather than only the original version of the COVID-19 virus.
The panel’s recommendation is not binding on the FDA, but based on this recommendation, the FDA may encourage manufacturers to develop new boosters before an expected surge in new cases this coming winter.
Trends of New Cases in Illinois and Evanston
Illinois: On June 30, the number of new cases in the state was 4,864.
The seven-day average of new cases in Illinois on June 30 was 4,175 up from 3,575 on June 23, a 17% increase. The chart below shows the trend.
Evanston: Evanston reported there were 42 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents on June 29. (Evanston is reporting COVID-19 data with a one-day delay.)
There was a total of 191 new COVID-19 cases of Evanston residents in the week ending June 29, compared to 218 new cases in the week ending June 23, a decrease of about 12%.
The chart below shows the trend.
Two Evanstonians died due to COVID-19 during the week ending June 29. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 increased to 152.
Northwestern University. The latest data reported on NU’s website is that between June 17 and June 23 there were 106 new COVID-19 cases of faculty, staff or students. If the cases are of an Evanston resident, they are included in Evanston’s data for the relevant period, Ike Ogbo, Director of Evanston’s Department of Health and Human Services, told the RoundTable. NU will update its data tomorrow.
Cases Per 100,000
The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois is 229 in the seven days ending June 30.
As of June 29, the weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston was 258. As of June 30, the number was 209 for Chicago, and 232 for Suburban Cook County. An accompanying chart shows the trend.
Hospitalizations in Illinois due to COVID-19 have stayed about the same in the last four weeks. They were 1,170 on June 22, about 40 more than one week ago.
The chart below, prepared by the City of Evanston, shows the trends in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 at the closest three hospitals serving Evanston residents.
Cook County and Evanston are in the Medium Risk Level
The CDC and IDPH look at the combination of three metrics to determine whether a community level of risk for COVID-19 is low, medium, or high. They are: 1) the total number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days; 2) the new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 in the last 7 days; and 3) the percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. 
The City of Evanston reported this evening, June 30, that Evanston is in the medium risk category. IDPH reports today that Cook County, including Chicago, is in the high risk category. Lake and DuPage counties are also in the high risk category.
While Evanston has more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people, the City reported this evening that the City has a 7-day total of 2.56 new hospital admissions per 100,000 people, and that it has 3.2% staffed inpatient hospital beds that are occupied by COVID patients (using a 7-day average).
The City has not said which hospitals or how many hospitals it is considering in making its analysis of community risk.
The CDC and IDPH recommend that people in a community with a “high” transmission rate should take the following precautions:
- “Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status (including in K-12 schools and other indoor community settings)
- “If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease: wear a mask or respirator that provides you with greater protection; consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed; talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to take other precautions (eg, testing); have a plan for rapid testing if needed (eg, having home tests or access to testing); talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies
- “If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease consider self-testing to detect infection before contact, and consider wearing a mask when indoors with them
- “Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
- “Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
- “Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
1/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 600% or more.
2/ CDC recommends the use of 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.