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Current Covid update: Evanston community risk ‘low,’ Cook County ‘medium’

In Illinois, the seven-day average of new Covid cases was 10,967 on Jan. 15, the most recent day for which data is available on IDPH’s website. This is down from 16,602 in the prior week, or a 34% decline. IDPH no longer reports the number of new Covid cases on a daily basis, but has shifted to providing weekly data once a week.

In Evanston, the seven-day average of new cases was 11.6 on Jan. 18, down from 15.1 in the prior week, or a 23% drop. The chart below, prepared by the City of Evanston, reflects the number of new cases of Evanstonians for the last 30 days and the seven-day moving average.

The number of new Covid cases being publicly reported is generally regarded as grossly understated. [1]

Community Risk Rating

The CDC and IDPH look at a combination of three metrics to determine whether a community level of risk for Covid 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: 1) have less than 200 new covid cases per 100,000 population in the last seven days; 2) have less than 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 population due to covid in the last seven days; and 3) have less than 10% of staffed inpatient beds occupied by covid patients (using the last seven-day average).

On Jan. 19, the city of Evanston reported that Evanston stayed in the low risk category. The data reported by the city is as follows:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 104
  • New hospital admissions due to covid per 100,000 population: 5.12
  • % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with covid: 3.91%.

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 stayed in the medium risk category. The data for Cook County is as follows:

  • New cases per 100,000 population: 91
  • New hospital admissions due to covid per 100,000 population: 11.1
  • % staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with covid: 5.1%.

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 Community Levels:

When the Covid 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 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 covid 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 cases reported by IDPH and the city thus significantly understates the actual number of new cases that are contracted.

2/ CDC and IDPH use three indicators to measure Covid community levels: New covid cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days; New Covid hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the last 7 days; and the percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by patients with confirmed Covid (7-day average).

The chart below illustrates how these indicators are combined to determine whether covid community levels are low, medium, or high. The CDC provides many recommendations depending on whether the Covid community level is low, medium, or high. If the risk indicators relating to hospitalizations differ, the higher risk factor is used.

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