CDC tracker monitors COVID-19 in wastewater nationwide. How to track levels in Central CA

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Friday, April 22, 2022
CDC launches nationwide COVID wastewater tracker for public
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Fresno County has had to get creative to monitor COVID-19. The county is turning to sewage, monitoring wastewater for the virus.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County has had to get creative to monitor COVID-19. In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is less public interest in testing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, they're getting less test result data, especially as more people turn to at-home tests.

However, the Fresno County Health Department is always trying to stay one step ahead of COVID-19, constantly evolving with new variants popping up.

Right now, health leaders aren't too concerned with cases or hospitalization rates.

"The rates have been very stable over the last several weeks, which is gratifying," said Dr. John Zweifler with the Fresno County Department of Public Health. "There may be a slight uptick. There has been an uptick in the Bay Area and LA, San Diego, but those look like they're receding as well."

To make that determination, the county is turning to sewage. For the last four months, they have been monitoring wastewater for the virus.

"It also gets into your digestive tract and is excreted when you use the bathroom so we can test for the antigen in the wastewater," said Dr. Zweifler. "Not only that, but we can tell what specific type of the variant it is. We can test for that also."

Now the public can monitor alongside them.

The CDC launched a national public dashboard tracking wastewater data. There are almost 700 sites reporting, including Fresno County.

According to the data, the level of COVID detected in Fresno County wastewater dramatically dropped at the end of January, following the Omicron surge. It still remains low.

"Right now, we're in a good place as it relates to COVID, but it's still very much in our community. So we still need to be very careful," Dr. Zweifler said.

He added that the new tool is going to be beneficial for the public, so they're also aware of what's happening.

To monitor COVID-19 wastewater data, visit the CDC website.