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Sacramento County monitoring sewage to track COVID

Sacramento County's epidemiology program manager said in a Thursday pandemic briefing the coronavirus sheds in human waste, ending up in our sewage.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — After the omicron variant of COVID-19 was recently confirmed present in Sacramento County wastewater samples, epidemiology program manager Jamie White said the wastewater is exactly where the virus flourishes.

"Wastewater is a robust source of COVID-19 (because) people shed the COVID-19 virus in their stool," White said during a virtual briefing on Thursday.

The original Nov. 28 wastewater sample was picked up by a team of Stanford researchers led by civil and environmental engineering professor Alexandria Boehm.

Back in 2020, the Stanford professor developed methods to monitor wastewater in several areas across California for SARS-CoV-2 — the disease that causes coronavirus infection.

The Stanford Wastewater Surveillance Group began collecting samples at Sacramento wastewater treatment facilities on Dec. 8, 2020.

"Wastewater surveillance, especially when combined with genetic sequencing from clinical specimens can be an accurate method of identifying and tracking changes in community trends in COVID-19 infections," White said.

No clinical positive cases of omicron infection have been reported as of Thursday, but White said not all specimens have been tested yet.

County health officials also say the traveling and mass gatherings over Thanksgiving caused an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, but the rate is still well below numbers seen in August.

Sacramento County is currently averaging 200 positive COVID-19 cases per day and three deaths from the virus reported every day.


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