Bay Area wastewater samples show increase in COVID infections across region

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Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Bay Area wastewater samples show increase in COVID infections
Bay Area wastewater samples are showing COVID-19 infections are on the rise. Doctors have seen symptoms like cough, sore throat and congestion.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you are noticing a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases around you, you are not alone. The latest state data shows an increase in infections.

The CDC is no longer tracking daily COVID infections, so wastewater samples collected locally are the best indicator of COVID levels in the Bay Area.

RELATED: As COVID-19 continues to evolve, so does our immunity. What does that mean for you?

The latest wastewater samples indicate a concerning COVID trend: infections increasing throughout the Bay Area.

"In the past few weeks we have seen a steady increase," said Marlene Wolfe, Project Director for WastewaterSCAN and added, "I think the picture we are seeing is a consistent increase across the region and there isn't one particular location that I would call out as having particularly high levels."

Dr. Wolfe is one of the directors for WastewaterSCAN a project that analyzes and releases COVID data from water treatment plants in California.

"Around the summer we were in a period of relatively low concentration compared to what we have seen historically. Which was really great to see and now we have gone up to kind of what we consider the middle-level tier," said Dr. Wolfe.

CORONAVIRUS DATA: Updated number of COVID-19 cases in San Francisco Bay Area

California Department of Public Health data shows San Francisco saw a spike in COVID detection two weeks ago.

Dr. Chris Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General confirmed they are seeing an uptick.

"What we are seeing is clearly a spike in cases. People that are affected by COVID," said Dr. Colwell. "They are more concentrated as they have been for a while now on the upper respiratory tract. So cough, sore throat and congestion."

Hospitalizations are slightly up across the Bay Area. As of Aug. 19, 371 people were reportedly hospitalized in all nine Bay Area Counties and Santa Cruz.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County's Public Health Officer says their hospitalization numbers doubled.

RELATED: Updated COVID-19 shot likely to be available mid-September

"Starting at the end of June we really started to see an increase in the concentration in our wastewater. Now for the past two weeks, we are starting to see more and more people coming into the hospital. We've seen about a doubling of people in the hospital with COVID-19 over the past two weeks," said Dr. Willis.

As COVID infections continue to increase Dr. Willis is concerned because the new booster is not yet available.

"My concern is that the Fall booster vaccine is super promising but it's at least a month out if not more than that. We are hearing maybe early October end of September from the CDC. We'll know soon when that actual rollout will happen. That is starting to feel further away as we are starting to see cases increase. Especially if we are starting to see new variants emerge now," said Dr. Willis.

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