Record levels of COVID-19 detected in Des Moines metro sewage
Record levels of COVID-19 were detected in metro-area sewage collected just before Thanksgiving, according to the latest test results.
Driving the news: The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority's sample collection on Nov. 22 shows coronavirus concentration levels roughly 9% higher than the previous peak in September.
Why it matters: Wastewater surveillance can be a leading indicator of COVID-19 because not everybody gets tested for the virus, according to the CDC.
- Asymptomatic infections show up in the data. And sewage testing is conducted independently from health clinics, which are dependent on community members seeking out care.
State of play: Confirmed COVID-19 infections have increased in Polk County from a seven-day average of 150 in late October to 228 as of yesterday, according to The New York Times.
- WRA's samples detected an increase in COVID-19 concentration in each of the last four samples taken since Nov. 10.
- Meanwhile, Iowa health officials announced yesterday that statewide hospitalizations have topped 700, a new yearly high.
- Scientists believe Omicron could be more transmissible and possibly more resistant to vaccines than earlier variants, though research is ongoing.
- Iowa is analyzing hundreds of test samples each week to track for variants.
What they're saying: Omicron's impact is still unclear, Sarah Ekstrand, a spokesperson for Iowa's Public Health Department, told Axios.
- Being vaccinated remains one of the most effective steps in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing serious illness, according to the World Health Organization.
- More than 60% of Polk County's residents, including 75% of adults, are now vaccinated, according to the NY Times.
Of note: DSM does not currently receive information about variants found in WRA samples, Jonathan Gano, the city's public works director Jonathan Gano, told Axios.
- Limited published data is available about variants found in sewer samples, according to the International Water Association.
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