SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Data analyzing sewage water at water treatment facilities reveals COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the Beehive State, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
Samples collected weekly from sewage entering 42 treatment plants across the state have been tested for concentrations of the COVID virus, which sheds through fecal matter. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said the information provides an indicator of the status and trends of COVID-19 in the communities served by the treatment plant.
According to the data, several treatment centers have shown a rise in COVID-19 infections, particularly along the Wasatch Front. A map showcasing 35 of the treatment centers shows 12 indicating a rise in COVID-19 infections as of Monday, Sept. 11. Another 22 showed the virus was present but there was no trend of increasing or decreasing infections.
Many of the areas where the virus is reportedly increasing are along the Wasatch Front. Treatment centers serving Salt Lake City, West Valley, Bountiful and Farmington all report a rise in infections. Farther north, Brigham City also reported a rise, while down south, both St. George and Cedar City indicated an increase.
Meanwhile, only the treatment plant in Payson reported a decline in infections.
Despite indications the virus is on the rise again, there is no need to panic about COVID-19 and another pandemic-related shutdown. The 7-day average of new COVID cases in Utah was last reported as 147, compared to 326 this time last year. Data shows the 7-day average did reach a low of 30 new cases in June before the number began creeping back up.
Public health experts have been tracking the rise in COVID nationwide, but ABC News reported they haven’t predicted a “tsunami of hospitalizations and deaths.” Former White House pandemic advisor and now Georgetown University professor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the level of immunity reached in the U.S. keeps those chances low.
Cases are also kept low thanks to the work of COVID-related vaccines — the FDA approved newly updated vaccines on Monday, Sept. 11. FDA’s Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research Director Peter Marks said vaccination remains critical to public health and continued protection against serious COVID-19 consequences.
“The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality,” said Marks. Once signed off by the director of the Centers for Disease Control, the new shots will become available to the public to add protection ahead of the winter uptick in infections.
More information about where you can get an updated COVID shot can be found on Utah’s coronavirus website. The website also provides data about Utah case counts, including all-time numbers and recent trends.