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Wastewater COVID testing shows massive jump in presence of the virus

There is now 1,694 percent more of the virus in wastewater compared to July of 2020. The positivity rate is now at 27 percent.

HOUSTON — Houston's wastewater testing is showing a massive jump in how much of the COVID-19 virus is present.

There is now 1,694 percent more of the virus in wastewater compared to July of 2020. The positivity rate is now at 27 percent.

Although COVID-19 testing is way up, many cases detected in home health tests aren't reported back to health officials. That’s why testing Houston’s wastewater has become the most accurate way to track the spread of the virus in the city.

The latest results from December 27 show the omicron variant has been detected in nearly all of the water treatment plant in Houston. 

There are 39 water treatment plants spread out across the city. The delta variant is also still present at about a dozen treatment plants. 

Why is the wastewater tested?

The information helps them spot and react to emerging outbreaks more quickly.

"The number one thing it allows us to do is to give the hospitals a heads up as to what they can anticipate in about two weeks," said Dr. David Persse, Chief Medical Officer for the City of Houston.

Dr. Persse said they also use that information to redirect resources to neighborhoods with rising viral rates.

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