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The wastewater is once again in our favor

But there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

The latest samples of Houston’s flushed wastewater show diminishing traces of COVID-19 across the region — a promising sign that the highly contagious omicron variant is in retreat.

Hospital admissions are down. Fewer people are testing positive for the virus. And now, the amount of coronavirus in the sewage is falling at all but two Houston wastewater treatment plants. Samples taken from across the city show the virus is no longer proliferating as quickly as it was earlier in the omicron outbreak.

After rising to “unbelievable” heights with omicron’s arrival just weeks ago, the city’s viral load is now falling rapidly, said Loren Hopkins, chief environmental officer at the Houston Health Department.

The level of COVID present in the city’s sewage is now about one-third of that measured at the onset of the omicron peak in late December and early January.

“We had this huge rise to levels we had never seen before,” Hopkins said Wednesday afternoon. “It went up very fast and has been dropping very fast.”

But while the variant may be loosening its grip, levels of the virus remains high. According to sewage testing, there is about as much COVID circulating citywide now as there was during the post-holiday surge a year ago that sickened Houston residents by the thousands and overwhelmed area hospitals.

See here for more on the wastewater tracking project. This metric is in line with other data, but please note what that last paragraph says. I expect this trend to continue, but it’s not far enough down yet that if it were to hit a floor we’d be content with it. Please do continue taking all reasonable precautions. You can see that lovely COVID-in-the-wastewater dashboard here.

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