Trends found from COVID-19 sewage samples across Utah

Sep 1, 2021, 7:20 PM
COVID-19 sewage Utah...
(File Photo: Jason Olson, KSL)
(File Photo: Jason Olson, KSL)

SALT LAKE CITY — Health analysts in Utah say they have reason to worry about Utah’s upcoming COVID-19 situation with data found in sewage. They’re taking a close look at the rates of the COVID-19 viruses found in sewage samples across the state, and the data is pointing to troubling trends.

COVID-19 found in sewage across Utah

Researchers report wastewater samples give a more complete picture of where the coronavirus is spreading compared to regular testing.  If you have a smaller number of people coming in for an exam, you’ll have a lower number of confirmed cases. 

However, data from sewage samples helps health officials find the virus among people who are asymptomatic. 

The Wastewater Surveillance Program Manager, Dr. Nathan LaCross, said this data also provides a glimpse into the near future when it comes to viral spread.

“Increases in wastewater often precede corresponding increases in cases in that same area,” LaCross said. “So, it often provides us with a number of days of extra time to respond that we wouldn’t otherwise have.”

What the sewage samples revealed

Looking over the data of the past few weeks, LaCross said they’re worried about what they’re finding.

“We’re seeing trends that are very similar to what we saw last fall,” he said, which is when we saw a massive surge in the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations.

This data becomes a very helpful tool for the Utah Department of Health, as they determine where they should place their mobile test centers and their vaccination outreach. LaCross said they want to get as far ahead of the virus as they can.

He said, “One of the main uses is identifying areas of particular concern. Right now, to an extent, the areas of concern are, kind of, just about everywhere.”

Even though the increase in the viral spread of COVID-19 is happening all across Utah, he believes there are certain parts of the state they’re especially concerned about.

“Tooele has been increasing quite steadily and not, as of yet, anyway, showing any real signs of stopping,” according to LaCross.

Officials from Utah Department of Health also said they’re seeing a notable increase in Vernal and many portions of southwestern Utah.

Today’s Top Stories

COVID-19-Utah response

covid testing utah...
Amber Gentry

COVID 19 testing in Utah now easier with more hours and locations

Those who need COVID testing in Utah now have more hours, locations, and testing options all across the state. No appointment is needed. 
11 days ago
utah diverse...
Nick Wyatt

Lawmakers pass bill allowing federal vaccine mandate exemptions

On Wednesday, Utah lawmakers voted to approve a bill allowing employees to claim exemptions from the federal vaccine mandate for businesses.
16 days ago
FEMA Photo: canva...
Eliza Craig

FEMA adds $8.4 million to Utah’s COVID response fund

FEMA said the funding will go toward personal protective equipment including medical gowns, N95 masks, and gloves.
17 days ago
Utah COVID update...
Eliza Craig

Utah COVID-19 update: 2,152 new cases and 556,463 total cases

Today's Utah COVID-19 update includes 2,152 new cases, 429 of which occurred among children who are now approved for a pediatric COVID vaccine.
24 days ago
vaccine mandate...
Curt Gresseth

Vaccine mandate from Biden unacceptable, say Utah state officials

Utah Senate president Stuart Adams wants the same exemptions in the federal vaccine mandate that are provided for Utah businesses.
26 days ago
FILE: A nurse reaches for a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a pop up vaccine clinic in ...
Eliza Craig

Utah update: 2,000 new cases of COVID-19

Officials also reported that 538 Utahns required hospitalization for COVID-19 on Wednesday and that another 22 Utahns have died as the result of COVID-19
1 month ago
Trends found from COVID-19 sewage samples across Utah