The federal Centers for Disease Control today changed the classification for Cook County to indicate there is “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19 in the County.

At that level the CDC recommends that all fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings.

Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medical officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health, says, “We strongly recommend that everyone follow the CDC recommendations, and we will be issuing a new masking guidance tomorrow. The Delta variant is the strongest version of COVID-19 yet and we must contain it through both vaccinations and prevention measures such as mask wearing indoors and in crowded outdoor settings.”

“Until we reach a higher vaccination rate in the County,” Rubin says, “We must continue following sensible mitigation practices, particularly when cases are rising. Masking, vaccination and physical distancing are imperative. We will need the cooperation of all residents, employers, venue operators and officials to keep our communities safe.”

Evanston has averaged 4.3 new COVID-19 cases a day over the past seven days. That compares to a seven-day average of 2.9 cases a week earlier and 1.6 cases two weeks ago.

A year ago Evanston’s seven day average was 2.1 cases per day.

Despite the uptick in cases, city officials say the number of people hospitalized at Evanston-area hospitals for COVID-19 remains relatively low, with just 11 hospitalized as of Thursday.

The number of Evanstonians who have died of COVID has remained unchanged at 118 since May 31.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.