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Wastewater shows small uptick in COVID-19, but already trending down

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Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 18:59:28-04

BOISE, Idaho  — The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has been slowly increasing over the last few weeks.

One way health officials stay alert to possible spikes in COVID-19 cases is through testing wastewater.

“We have a resource in wastewater which I know is kind of interesting to think about that can help us understand these indicators of public health and right now and for the last two years we've been using it for COVID-19 but there really is the potential for more there that we could be partnering in different ways but not on an individual by individual basis but really for the community as a whole to look at that," City Of Boise Environmental Division Manager Haley Falconer said.

Testing wastewater for different viruses or diseases offers data county-wide rather than on an individual scale.

“The wastewater provides us a really unique opportunity to understand what’s happening at the community-wide level, especially with something like covid where testing continues to be different or inconsistent," Falconer said.

The date varies day to day in sample results, so the trend over time shows a good indication of what COVID-19 levels look like. According to the data, the trend was ticking upward at the end of May.

COVID wastewater

“That increased trend is typically correlated with an increase in clinical cases of COVID-19 and the wastewater data is a 5-7 day leading indicator of when we would see cases increase,” Falconer said.

Now, they are trending down, which could be an indicator that the small uptick in cases Idaho is seeing statewide could be decreasing.