The share of Evanston residents who’ve been reported to have a positive test for the COVID-19 virus is more than five times the statewide average — but it’s impossible to be sure what that disparity actually means.

State, county and city officials have released figures for the number of positive test results for residents in their jurisdictions. But only the state has released figures for the total number of people tested — and it has not provided a breakdown of total tests by county or municipality.

Given generally limited access to testing for the virus state-wide, and with Northshore University HealthSystem’s Evanston Hospital one of the few locations in the state with its own in-house testing capability, it could be that Evanston’s high share of confirmed cases simply is a consequence of having more access to testing than residents elsewhere in Illinois.

But the limited available data makes it impossible to tell for sure.

Counts of positive test results are only available at the municipal level from municipalities that have their own health departments.

In Cook County that means just the cities of Chicago and Evanston, the villages of Oak Park and Skokie and Stickney Township.

As of Friday:

  • Oak Park reported one case, for an infection rate of 0.002%
  • Skokie reported 10 cases, for an infection rate of 0.016%.
  • Stickney Township had not reported any cases.
  • Chicago reported 212 cases, for an infection rate of 0.008%
  • Cook County had 411 cases, for an infection rate of 0.008%
  • Illinois had 585 cases, for an infection rate of 0.005%

Given that Skokie residents also have ready access to the NorthShore system, it may be that their high reported positive case rate — next highest after Evanston — also reflects a greater access to testing.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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