UPDATED 11:35 AM PT – Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Health officials in a Florida county are alerting residents of “very concerning” coronavirus levels in their wastewater. On Monday, the director of Orange County Utilities in Florida, Ed Torres, claimed there’s a 600 percent increase of COVID-19 RNA concentration in the local wastewater. Torres said the numbers come from sampling, which began in mid-May.
“Orange County is actively participating in the CDC national waste water surveillance where concentration of SARS-CoV2 RNA are being monitored in the waste water through facilities around the country to better understand the spread of the virus,” Torres explained.
He warned the data predicts hospitals could see more COVID cases and hospitalizations this week. Torres added, having advanced notice on where to expect an uptick in illnesses can help health officials prepare resources ahead of time to help combat the spread.
“What we measure in the wastewater are fragments of the virus that are known contagious, non-viable, that provide us with an advanced warning and serves as a predictor of upcoming cases within the coming four to 10 days or so,” he stated. “Similar waste water surveillance programs are being used around the world as a very effective tool against the fight against the pandemic, determining spikes, trends and allocation of resources and public health preventative measures.”
In the community: Today’s #COVID19 press conference at Orange County Utilities’ Eastern Water Reclamation Facility.
— Orange TV (@OrangeTVFL) August 16, 2021
In the meantime, Torres urges residents to get vaccinated and continue taking proper precautions to contain the spread of the virus.