Evanston raises COVID transmission level to ‘high’ as ​​cases rise, hospitalizations

Evanston, Illinois (WLS) – Evanston is now at a “high” COVID community level, as defined by the CDC, due to a high number of hospitalizations, not just case numbers.

Over the past seven days, Evanston has reported 397 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 305 the previous week.

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As a result, Evanston Health and Human Services made the following recommendations based on CDC guidelines:

Wearing a mask in public places regardless of vaccination status including K-12 schools and other indoor public places
Wear a mask or respirator that provides greater protection if you are at risk of severe illness
Wear a mask if you have symptoms, test positive, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

Socializing outdoors if possible and avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces
Taking the test before attending a family or public event. Home tests are perfect for this
– Call your doctor immediately for treatment for COVID-19 if you are diagnosed
Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
Follow the CDC’s recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or display symptoms of COVID-19.

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The people who flocked to restaurants in the northern suburbs on Friday night seemed unconcerned about the rise in coronavirus cases.

“We’ve had shredding, double shredding, and triple shredding, and now it’s time to start living,” said resident Mike Joyce.

“I’m not too concerned about that,” Christina Joyce said. “People already have a lot of experience with how to protect themselves.”

Despite the elevated risks, Evanston’s Director of Health and Human Services, Ike Ogbo, said the city is not returning mask mandates.

“But, we also have this in our toolbox, if we continue to see a sustained high throughput in Evanston,” Ogbo said.

Instead, public health officials strongly recommend masking indoors, regardless of vaccine status and urge residents to keep up with vaccinations and boosters.

Ogbo said the same advice goes to Evanston Township High School students attending prom this weekend.

“With any major event come issues related to contracting with COVID,” Ogbo said. “That is why it is essential that individuals follow these public health initiatives.”

Throughout our region, only Kenosha and Racine counties in Wisconsin are at the “high” community level. Other Chicago area counties are at “medium” or “low” risk, and the city of Chicago is also at “medium” risk.

City officials say hospitalization needs to double to take it to the next level.

“We could go up, but I don’t think that’s imminent for sure next week,” said Dr. Alison Arwady, Chicago Public Health Commissioner. “But that’s why we ask while we’re on ‘medium’ to put our masks on again to try and gather outside if you can.”

Statewide, officials said mask mandates were not discussed.

“If we get to somewhere high, we are going to ask people to be really careful and avoid indoor crowded places when possible,” said Dr. Amal Tokers, acting director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Cases and hospitalizations have seen an uptick, but COVID-related deaths remain pandemic-low. Officials credit the vaccine and effective treatments, and say it’s time to vaccinate and boost if you haven’t already.

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