Jan 10, 2022 - COVID

New record COVID-19 level found in Des Moines metro wastewater

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A record level of COVID-19 was detected in Des Moines metro wastewater last week.

Why it matters: A recent surge, driven by Omicron, is likely underreported. And at-home rapid tests aren't included in many case counts, both locally and across the country.

  • "Not everyone gets tested but everyone has to flush," Des Moines Public Works director Jonathan Gano told Axios.

Driving the news: A Des Moines metro wastewater sample collected Jan. 3 had nearly twice the amount of COVID-19 found on Dec. 27, 2021.

Between the lines: While the now dominant Omicron variant is highly transmissible, scientists have said early data suggests it's potentially milder and less lethal.

  • Hospitalization and death rates in Iowa are rising, but remain far lower than those recorded in late 2020.

What to watch: Iowa will not enforce a federal vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced late Friday.

  • A possible feud with the feds may be a nonstarter. Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled Friday they're leaning toward ruling against the mandate.
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