Today, November 26th, the World Health Organization announced that a new variant of COVID-19 – called the “Omicron” variant – is a “worrying variant.” WHO said: “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are cause for concern. Preliminary indications indicate an increased risk of reinfection with this variant compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant seem to be increasing in almost all provinces of South Africa. “
The Omicron variant was first discovered in Botswana, but cases have also been identified in other countries.
Who said that his technical advisory group will continue to evaluate this variant and that it will pass on new knowledge to the public if necessary.
The Biden government announced today that it will restrict travel to the United States from South Africa and other countries in South Africa. The travel ban does not affect citizens or permanent residents of the United States. A number of other countries have also issued travel bans.
News of the new virus shocked the stock market, with the S&P down 2.3%, the Dow down 2.53% and the Nasdaq down 2.23%.
Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases in Illinois continue to rise. The graphic opposite shows that the seven-day average of new cases in Illinois has more than doubled in the past five weeks.
In the same five-week period, October 27 through November 24, there were 997 groundbreaking hospital admissions and 220 groundbreaking deaths in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. IDPH says, “Breakthrough is defined as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 at least 14 days after being fully vaccinated and has not tested positive in the past 45 days.”
New Cases: The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 Illinois population increased from 208 in the seven days through November 18 to 256 in the seven days through November 24, an increase of 23%. (IDPH and Evanston have not reported COVID-19 data for November 25 or 26) The number of new cases per week in the state is now about 11 times higher than it was on June 10, the day before the state entered Phase 5 skipped the Illinois recovery plan.
The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Evanston rose from 73 in the seven days through November 18 to 123 per 100,000 in the seven days through November 24, a 68% increase.
Test Positive Rates: The seven-day test positive rate in Illinois rose to 4.1% and Evanston’s to 0.95% on Nov. 24.
Illinois and Evanston are classified as “Significant Conveyance” areas under CDC guidelines. See footnote 2.
Vaccinations: IDPH reports that as of Nov. 24, 79.8% of Illinois residents 12 and older had at least one dose of a vaccine and 72.9% were fully vaccinated. These percentages include people who reside in Illinois who have been vaccinated in Illinois or other states. Source CDC and IDPH.
By November 24, 89% of Evanston residents 5 and older had received at least one dose of a vaccine; 78.2% were fully vaccinated. Source city of Evanston.
Evanston – COVID
Evanston reported 16 new COVID-19 cases from Evanston residents on Wednesday November 24, Tuesday the 15th and Monday the 7th.
There were a total of 91 new COVID-19 cases in Evanston residents in the week ending November 24, compared to 54 new cases in the week ending November 18.
There were a total of 5,713 COVID-19 cases from Evanston residents during the pandemic, of which 77 are active.
The last Evanstonian died of COVID-19 on October 25th. The number of deaths from COVID-19 is 121.
Northwestern University influence. The latest data on Northwestern University’s website reports that there were 26 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 from a faculty member, employee or student at NU between November 19-25. If the faculty member, staff member, or student resides in Evanston, the case or cases will be included in the city numbers.
1 / The state moved into Phase 5 of the Illinois Recovery Plan on June 11th. Since July 1, the RoundTable has been dealing with the COVID-19 key figures once a week on Thursdays. Specifically, the RoundTable presents two charts showing: 1) the trends in the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the two most recent seven-day periods for Evanston, Chicago, Suburban Cook County and the state. The graph also shows the weekly number of new cases for each region as of June 10 as a base to measure whether cases have increased since moving to Phase 5. and 2) the latest test positive rates for these areas.
As explained in footnote 3 below, the CDC recommends using these two measures to determine risk of transmission. If we see an increase in new cases or in test positive rates, we consider covering additional metrics.
We’ll also be reporting the latest percentages of people 12 and over vaccinated in Evanston and Illinois.
2 / In late July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and Evanston’s Health & Human Services Dept. Recommendations, respectively, that everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, should wear a mask in any indoor public area in areas with “significant” and “high transmission” of new COVID-19 cases. Areas with significant transmission are those with 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of 7 days. Areas with high transmission are those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of 7 days.
They also recommend universal internal masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
3 / On February 12, the CDC published a K-12 school operations strategy. As part of this strategy, the CDC recommends two measures to determine the risk of transmission, according to the report: 1) the total number of new cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days; and 2) the percentage of COVID tests in the past seven days that were positive. The CDC provides a chart to help assess whether the risk of transmission is low, moderate, significant, or high. If the two indicators indicate different levels of risk, the CDC says the higher level of risk should be used. The following table, reprinted from the CDC report, sets out the CDC’s indicators and thresholds for the transmission of COVID-219 in the community.
The CDC guidelines are available here: Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Gradual Prevention | CDC