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Wastewater reveals delta variant dominates in parts of Missouri

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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EDINA, Mo. (WGEM) - Levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 are falling in some Northeast Missouri wastewater samples, but that may not be because the pandemic is on the decline just yet.

The samples are taken through The Sewershed Surveillance Project, coordinated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the University of Missouri.

In the Tri-States, samples are taken in Edina, Kahoka and in Hannibal.

While the viral count is still increasing in Hannibal, it has decreased in Knox and Clark counties.

However, among closer inspection, the data reveals that in Knox County the decrease is actually attributed to the delta variant, and not omicron.

The viral load in Edina, MO peaked in November and has been decreasing since. According to...
The viral load in Edina, MO peaked in November and has been decreasing since. According to health department officials, the peak was all Delta variant cases. Source: Sewershed Surveillance Project(WGEM)

“Good news is, we’re on the decrease with sewershed. Bad news is, that was delta, and we know omicron is reaching its way here so when that happens I think testing will go back up, sewershed will probably show an increase again,” said Lori Moots-Clair, the director of the Knox County Health Department.

She said she is expecting cases to go back on the increase as omicron finally reaches the county in the coming weeks, but she hopes the next surge will not impact people as strongly.

“So people have been more sick, in the last couple of months, but you know were hopeful that omicron will come, it will be less severe and we’ll get through it,” she said.

She said that having the wastewater reports is a huge help in monitoring COVID-19 and variant trends, and she’s thankful for the city of Edina agreeing to join the sewershed project to better inform the community.

You can access the COVID-19 trends through the sewershed project here.

Note: the data shown on the dashboard is a week behind real time as the samples are collected and then taken to a lab for analysis.

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