Why More COVID-19 in Salt Lake County Sewage Doesn’t Concern Officials

COVID-19 risk levels in the areas served by both the South Valley and Jordan Basin water reclamation facilities have risen enough to make this happen the state watch listbut an official with the Salt Lake County Department of Health said that didn’t mean another virus wave comes.

“I don’t think we have reason to believe transmission is going to explode like it did in January,” said Kylie Sage, data and surveillance manager for the county public health department still low rates of emergency room visits for the virus and the availability of more vaccines and treatments.

“People have more options to protect themselves, and so these three indicators combined don’t necessarily raise immediate concern,” Sage said, although the county, like the state, now relies on a measure of the presence of COVID-19 in fecal samples at sewage treatment plants Monitoring outbreaks and not collected to count cases.

“Sewage tells us what we can possibly expect, but it’s just one tool in the surveillance toolbox. And that’s why we shouldn’t necessarily react to every fluctuation in the data. We know COVID is still spreading in our communities,” Sage said, so some ups and downs are likely.

COVID-19 cases are rising in other parts of the country as so-called “Stealth Omicron” sweeps through the United States. According to theCenters for Disease Control and Preventionthe even more transmissible subvariant of Omicron, which drove case counts to record highs in Utah in January, now dominates that region.

But Salt Lake County’s wastewater monitoring levels are comparable to the same point in time last year, Sage said. Since then, children have become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations and booster doses have become available, including a second booster shot for people over 50 or people with a weakened immune system.

Utah just moved to a new one “state of equilibrium” pandemic response announced earlier this yearby Governor Spencer Cox. The governor said the state will end by March 31 at most testing and treat and treat COVID-19 more like the flu or some other endemic disease that, while still deadly, is not a constant threat.

As part of the new response, the Utah Department of Health has replaced daily reports on COVID-19 with a single update posted online on Thursdays at coronavirus.utah.gov This includes data from twice-weekly analysis of wastewater samples collected from 32 locations across the state.

During Update from Thursday showed an increase in the virus in just six locations, a map on another government website, wastewatervirus.utah.govrevealed on Friday that nine locations have higher levels of COVID-19 but still places the South Valley facility in the unchanged category.

Sage said that not only has more COVID-19 been detected in both the South Valley and the Jordan Basin, but it’s enough that the state now considers them places to watch. The state defines the level as “of possible concern, but not high enough to be considered elevated.”

Nathan LaCross, the state Department of Health’s sewage monitoring manager, said after the state’s weekly update was released Thursday, new data put locations in Moab and Park City at the highest risk level, and moved four locations — the two in Salt Lake County . one in Davis County and one in Hyrum – on the watch list.

He said that while the Moab and Park City systems have been found to have elevated levels of COVID-19, nobody there should be “incredibly alarmed, but they should be aware that there are strong signs that we are in some areas see increased transmission and take appropriate action,” such as B. Social distancing.

Salt Lake County does not yet have such a red flag, but Sage has made similar suggestions.

“My advice would be to stay diligent about the really simple ways you can protect yourself – wash your hands, stay home when you’re sick, get vaccinated when you’re not, or get boosted when you’re eligible “, she said . “Really, just adhering to the hygiene practices we’ve all become so familiar with over the past two years.”

Most people don’t need to wear masks or social distance, Sage said, unless they are at high risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 or regularly interact with someone who is. The COVID-19 vaccine still offers the best protection against hospitalization or death, he said.

And COVID-19 isn’t the only virus on the rise in Salt Lake County — so is the flu, Sage said.

“It’s still low, but it’s unusual for flu activity to pick up at this time of year. Spring is usually the end of our flu season,” she said. Everyone had the flu though disappeared in the first winter of the pandemic, but now many people are more relaxed about the hygiene habits they have adopted against COVID-19.

“I think that’s the most likely cause” for the increase in flu, she said, urging those who haven’t to catch one flu shot. “Everyone has more or less gone back to their normal lives, and as we see more people and do more things, that just gives us more potential to spread different viruses.”

Leave a Comment