Daily file illustration by Angeli Mittal
Evanston released new guidelines Friday for combating the spread of COVID-19 — including the recommended use of face masks indoors.
The updated recommendations come as Evanston reported a seven-day average of 56.71 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on May 13. With this caseload, Evanston reached a “High” COVID-19 community risk level as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recommendation shift also follows the city’s April 28 move to stop publishing COVID-19 test positivity rates based on federal policy changes.
Based on the high risk level, Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department recommended residents wear a mask indoors and everywhere if they are at high risk for severe disease. Residents should also wear a mask around others if they have COVID-19 symptoms, a positive test result or a recent exposure to COVID-19. The recommendations apply to all residents, regardless of their vaccination status.
The city recommends that residents should socialize outdoors if possible and avoid gathering in poorly ventilated indoor settings. Prior to attending a family gathering or public event, the city recommended residents get tested for COVID-19. The city also advised residents to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.
The CDC’s definition of COVID-19 community risk level is based on weekly data for hospital admissions, as well the percent of staffed inpatient beds and total new COVID-19 cases. The city based its high risk assessment on the CDC’s framework and other metrics.
Over 10 new hospital admissions for COVID-19 per 100,000 people in seven days is an indicator of a high community risk level, according to the CDC. In the week prior to May 11, Evanston reported 12.8 admissions per 100,000 people.
According to a May 11 report from the city, 4.22% of staffed inpatient beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients in Evanston, classified by the CDC as a medium community risk level. If the percentage reaches 10%, Evanston would be at a high risk level based on that indicator.
The May 11 report from the city detailed prevention strategies would be based on the high community risk level given by the hospital admissions data.
Evanston has reported 12,865 confirmed cases and 148 deaths from illnesses or complications related to COVID-19 since March 14, 2020.
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