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COVID-19 numbers rising according to Houston wastewater testing

Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 have also been detected for the first time in Houston wastewater.

HOUSTON — After the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hit 1 million deaths on Monday, new data shows numbers on the rise again.

The latest Houston Health Department wastewater results from May 9 show levels are now higher than they were in July of 2020. 

The viral load on May 9 was 127 percent higher in comparison to July 6, 2020.

The July 2020 readings serve as a baseline for wastewater testing, since that was during the summer surge of cases.

The positivity rate in Houston is also now at 8 percent. At the end of March, Houston's wastewater positivity rate was 2 percent.

Since the results are delayed, levels are likely higher now. 

Houston Methodist is also reporting a rise in cases over the last two weeks.

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Dr. Wesley Long at Houston Methodist says the BA.2 variant continues to be dominant in Houston.

Below is a breakdown of the cases reported in each county, including recoveries. 

“We have also seen our first cases of BA.4 and BA.5, which we will continue to monitor, since literature suggests these variants escape immunity from previous Omicron infection," Long tweeted. "Vaccines are still our best defense against COVID-19 along with masking and distancing.”

Long also says while the wastewater levels are nearly 30 percent higher than the July 2020 surge, that the public shouldn't be fearful, but shouldn't ignore the trend either.

"The bottom line is, the amount of virus in the community is going up," Long said. "That’s one thing we know for sure. I wouldn’t be worried, but I would be paying attention."

The Texas Medical Center stopped updating its COVID-19 dashboard on May 9. On its website, they wrote “We are now able to effectively manage with the virus in our community."

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