new-covid-19-cases-in-evanston-20200508

Evanston reported eight new COVID-19 cases today, raising its total to 444, and two additional deaths, bringing the death count to 14.

Chicago reported 1,094 new cases for a total of 29,535 with 64 additional deaths for a total of 1,248.

Statewide 2,887 new cases were reported, bringing the state’s total ot 73,760, with 130 new deaths, for a total of 3,241.

The state reported results of 20,671 coronavirus tests today, the highest test count yet. The rate of positive tests reach 14 percent — the second-lowest percentage of positive results in more than a month.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced reopening plans today that set tougher benchmarks for easing stay-at-home rules than Gov. J.B. Pritzker oultined in his strategy earlier this week.

At his news conference this afternoon the governor said the mayor’s proposals are not in conflict with his plans and that local governments are allowed to be more strict about reopening than the state.

There was no immediate word Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty about whether he’s planning any modifications here to the state reopening schedule.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. It would be interesting to

    It would be interesting to hear more about why the day-to-day numbers are so irregular.  I’m sure there’s a logical explanation – perhaps a regular Friday or Monday testing regimen at nursing homes, whose results trickle in a few days later.  Or batch reporting by one or more hospitals or institutions, whose figures don’t make the count daily.  I’d love to know, if the Public Health folks are willing to give a bit more info.

    1. It appears to me that the

      It appears to me that the City of Evanston’s COVID-related death numbers are starting to catch up with the numbers in the Cook County Medical Examiner’s database. Still not sure what accounts for the discrepency. 

    2. Wilson – with a 14-day

      Wilson – with a 14-day incubation period, infectious diseases can take time to manifest, if they do at all. Increases in tests will also increase the number of positive results. I’m not sure that even experts can say why the day-to-day numbers are so irregular. 

      1. I get that.  But the issue is

        I get that.  But the issue is that in Evanston, positive tests aren’t returning in a normal distribution. Those numbers are very unlikely to be the result of the normally distributed return of test results. They’re much more likely to be a product of sampling that isn’t normally distributed.  They’re almost useless as daily data points. 

        If the reason is simply an unsmoothed return of test results on a daily basis, (ie, if 3-4 times as many tests came back on Thursday, with 27 positives, as on Friday, with 8 positives), then the 7-day average is still very useful. 

        But it’s growing increasingly clear that what is actually happening is that there are certain batches that are much more likely to return positives, and they come in together on certain days.  My suspicion is that the peaks we’re seeing aren’t a result of fluctuating numbers of tests returning, but instead, dates on which a batch of tests from a vulnerable population are added into the data stream.

        Understanding that would help us understand the epidemic better.

        We learned in the Trib today that statewide, 48% of deaths are in extended care facilities.  That’s extraordinary.  We’ve been aware that such homes are a huge source of risk.  But not that it would be to that extent, even at this stage of the epidemic. 

        If Evanston’s periodic peaks involve influxes of tests from care facilities, that would really help us understand the context of what is happening in Evanston.  It would mean that one the one hand, stay-at-home is extraordinarily successful, since it would imply the rate of continuing infection in normal community settings is very low.  On the other hand, it might imply that much more attention needs to be given to shore up the defenses of our care facilities.  Or, it might simply be a result of a much stronger testing regimen in those facilities – we’d need to know the denominator.

        It’s also possible that there’s some completely different reason behind the unusual fluctuations here.  If I were the local health authorities, I would desperately want to know the answer.

        I very much doubt they don’t know. 

        And I tend to think that providing the public with a more complete understanding of things creates better public policy.  Others often believe that the public isn’t smart enough to understand contexts, so they hold back numbers and information that might be embarrassing or run counter to their own policy ideas.

        In my experience analyzing data, quirky numbers almost always signal something interesting that hasn’t previously been understood.  It would be a mistake to dismiss this huge, outlier data points as if they are just noise.  These peaks are too large to be noise. 

        1. Sampling

          Hi Wilson,

          We know that testing is not random and that there are periodic efforts to tackle high-risk locations in batches. Given that, I don’t think the daily variability in positive test results in Evanston should be surprising. You can see the same sort of variability in Skokie, another place in the metro area where numbers for a community of similar size to Evanston are broken out.

          That variability tends to wash out somewhat when looking at the numbers for much larger areas like the state as a whole.

          It’s also well established that long term care facilities are hot spots for the disease. OECD data indicates that the United States has about 33 beds in long-term care facilities for every 1,000 people age 65 and older. Given that the vast majority of Evanston’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred in LTC facilities, it’s pretty clear that residents of those facilities have been at much greater risk of dying in the pandemic than are other people over 65.

          How much of that difference is due to greater success in social distancing for people outside of LTC facilities and how much is due to their better overall health status may still need to be sorted out.

          — Bill

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