With just a few days to go before the anticipated lifting of Evanston’s mask mandate, reported COVID-19 cases in the city have returned to levels last seen last fall, before the Omicron surge.

The seven-day rolling average of daily cases now stands at 14.3. It had soared above 127 at the peak of the surge.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65’s numbers from Tuesday also show a drop in cases, although the district’s initial numbers have tended to increase somewhat as delayed reports come in.

Reported cases are also declining at Evanston Township High School, where six new student cases were reported in the eight-day period ending Tuesday, down from a high of 311 in a week just over a month ago.

However, cases rose for the week ending last Thursday at Northwestern University — driven by a near doubling of cases among undergraduate students — to 167 from 85 the previous week.

The current guidance from the city’s Health Department says that “if leading COVID-19 metrics continue to improve through February,” the city’s vaccination and masking orders “can be lifted consistent with Gov. Pritzker’s time frame, anticipated to be Monday, Feb. 28.”

After Feb. 28, the city says, “masks will continue to be required where ordered by the state and federal government, such as on public transit and in high-risk settings, including healthcare facilities and congregate care.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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