Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

COVID-19 Cases Are On The Rise In Some Parts Of Illinois. This Worries Experts.

Friday, July 03, 2020
by Kate McGee

Illinois’ declining number of positive COVID-19 cases has started flattening over the past week in some areas of the state, while other areas are starting to see a slight uptick, according to two epidemiologists in Chicago.

“Though it’s still tentative … the slowdown has really stopped, and we’re getting a little bit more of a flattening potentially, and a bit of an uptick,” said Sarah Cobey, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago.

The number of new positive cases in Illinois has increased for three days in a row, with 869 new confirmed cases reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health Thursday, which is higher than the 7-day rolling average of 778 new cases. But the state’s seven day case positivity rate has remained flat, between 2 and 3% over the past month, compared to 14% in mid-May.

IDPH data show younger people are increasingly accounting for more positive cases. As of June 30, 16.6% of positive cases were patients in their 20s and patients in their 30s represent 16.5%, compared with 14% of people over 70. Still, people over 70 years old represent more than two-thirds of the deaths from COVID-19 in the state. (See more about the state’s numbers here and here in a WBEZ/The Chicago Reporter collaboration.)

While Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday said she believed the city’s COVID-19 caseload continued to be on the decline, a day later she announced that anyone coming from states where cases are surging would be ordered to quarantine for two weeks, starting Monday.

Cobey works closely with Jaline Gerardin, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University. Both women have advised the state on COVID-19 data collection and forecasting since the start of the pandemic.

“The trend we’ve seen over the last few days is not cause [for] unconcern,” Gerardin said. “Some places may be starting to rise and some places on the downslope are flattening out and some places are continuing to go down. It’s a mix of things.”

Geradin and Cobey say much more information is needed to better understand the data collected and truly assess how the state is handling the spread of COVID-19.

Here are other issues the epidemiologists noted about the state’s current COVID-19 situation:

Test turnaround time is slow — and that means reported data is lagging

While some testing sites can provide results in 24 hours, others are still taking up to a week, Cobey said. Plus, people often come in for tests a few days after symptoms start, which means a person is considered a confirmed case a week after they were likely infected.

All of this means the daily reported numbers this week are really reflecting the reality from a few weeks ago, before Illinois reopened bars and restaurants in the shift to Phase 4.

“It’s way too soon for restaurants and bars to be driving that,” said Gerardin of the current numbers. They expect shifting to Phase 4 will only result in higher numbers of positive cases statewide.

Cobey says she and Gerardin recommended testing sites across Illinois also start tracking the date people start noticing COVID-19 symptoms.

Hospitalizations and ICU bed numbers are better indicators than daily positivity rates

Cobey says it’s important to look beyond the number of new positive cases to evaluate how well states are combating the virus. In fact, most modelers in Illinois don’t base their forecasts on positive case trends.

“What we look toward more often are hospital admissions, admissions to the ICU and of course deaths,” Cobey said, even though those numbers can also lag. “Though deaths are such a lagging indicator we wouldn’t expect them to provide a first signal.”

The number of hospital beds with COVID-19 patients has flattened over the past week, but an analysis provided by Gerardin shows certain areas of the state are seeing upticks in COVID-19 patients in the hospital and the ICU, especially in the Northeast and North Central region of the state.

She is especially concerned about hospitalization and ICU rates in the southern part of Cook County, and Will, Grundy and Kankakee Counties.

We don’t know who is being tested and how often

The Illinois Department of Public Health said positivity rates have remained flat while we’re seen an increase in new positive cases. A spokesperson credited that to increased testing, not an increase in infections.

Illinois has tested an average of 29,000 people per day in the past week, which is much higher than average testing rates during the peak of the pandemic. But Cobey and Gerardin said more data is needed to understand who is included in those increased testing numbers.

“Say they are testing the baseball team every single day,” said Gerardin. “That’s going to be leading you a different direction versus this is all people coming to the ER with symptoms. So there’s definitely a level of deeper understanding that’s needed.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to a request for more information about who is being tested in the state.

Early warning data tracking still slowly ramping up

Cobey and Gerardin have pushed for the state to implement a “sentinel surveillance system” to help understand change in case trends as quickly as possible.

“We don’t really have the best set up right now to detect these changes in transmission as soon as they happen,” Cobey said. “We’re seeing something that’s sort of lagged and kind of blurred.”

Under this system, testing sites would specifically track a certain subset of patients who come in for testing with COVID-19 symptoms. Those patients would be flagged and asked additional survey questions to create a consistent set of samples and help the state immediately assess trends.

“We don’t necessarily need to know the exact numbers across everyone in Illinois,” said Gerardin. “We can look at easy access groups to assess the trend.”

According to both epidemiologists, two outpatient clinics have started using this early warning tracking system. Plus, all hospitals will start automatically testing women coming in to give birth, which is a group that can be consistently tracked and are less affected by changes in COVID testing statewide. Other states already test this population to do similar tracking of COVID cases.

IDPH did not immediately return a request for more information on this program and where the first two testing sites are located.

Kate McGee is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her @McGeeReports.

Recent Headlines

‘We Have No Choice But to Do Better’: Cook County Pledges to Address Increase in Black Suicides
Wednesday, August 05, 2020
The Trace

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Health department issues guidance for suburban Cook County, Illinois,
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Special to

Illinois schools reopening updates: What suburban Chicago districts plan for fall
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Pritzker: COVID-19 Pandemic is Now Worse in Carbondale Than Chicago
Tuesday, August 04, 2020

County working on plan to reverse rise in Black suicides — ‘crisis that once again hits the African American community the hardest’
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Offices under Preckwinkle score mixed grades under self-published ‘performance dashboards’
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
The Daily Line

Federal push in Chicago begins to show up in new gun cases, some bypassing Cook County prosecutors
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

With 2020 on pace to be the worst year in a decade for Black suicides, Cook County officials sound alarm on yet another ‘horrifying’ pandemic
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Visitors to Cook County Suburbs from COVID-19 Hot Spots to Quarantine for 2 Weeks
Monday, August 03, 2020

Board of Review Responds to Assessor’s Comment
Monday, August 03, 2020
Evanston RoundTable

Young activist dies after being shot in West Rogers Park. ‘We can honor him by continuing the call to end gun violence.'
Monday, August 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Hektoen COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative
Monday, August 03, 2020

Visitors to Cook County Suburbs from COVID-19 Hot Spots to Quarantine for 2 Weeks
Monday, August 03, 2020

Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases Prompts New Cook County Guidelines
Monday, August 03, 2020

Nearly 60 different types of fish found in Chicago waterways, study shows. 30 years ago, there were fewer than 10.
Monday, August 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Preserve your serenity. Fill our your census form.
Sunday, August 02, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Illinois records 1,467 new COVID-19 cases, 14 more deaths
Sunday, August 02, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County expanding community courts program
Sunday, August 02, 2020
WGN Channel 9 News

Amid Surge in Homicides and Shootings, CPD Points to Overall Crime Reduction
Saturday, August 01, 2020

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.