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CDC monitors wastewater to watch for spread of omicron variant

The CDC is using wastewater samples to help detect COVID-19 cases.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some communities here in Florida are using wastewater samples to detect the omicron variant.

A spokesperson for Orange County Utilities tells 10 Tampa Bay they have had three positive results. The first showed the variant was in two service areas, and the subsequent ones showed it was in all three of their service areas. The wastewater testing is part of the CDC/Health and Human Services nationwide surveillance program.

The CDC says it is currently developing a portal for state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to submit wastewater testing data. This will eventually create a national database to help interpret data for public health action. 

The CDC adds data from wastewater testing does not necessarily replace other COVID-19 surveillance systems, but can provide an efficient pooled community sample. 

Additionally, while COVID-19 can be detected in wastewater, there have been no cases of an individual becoming sick with COVID-19 because of direct exposure to treated or untreated wastewater. 

We asked counties across the Tampa Bay area, but so far none are taking part in the sampling.

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