ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said Wednesday, during his 170th overall COVID-19 briefing, that while virus levels in county wastewater reclamation facilities remain high, a recent decline seen in gene copies per liter of the virus is “good news.”
Virus levels detected in wastewater are down 65% in the eastern part of Orange County since last week, 45% in the northwest service area and 69% in the southwest.
“The northwest reclamation facility was at 18.7 million liters last week — gene copies per liter last week — but it has dropped to 10.2 million,” Demings said. “The eastern facility was at 15.7 million but has dropped to 5.5 million, and our southwest facility was at 11.5 million but the latest reading shows it dropped to 3.5 million.”
The mayor said that while the drops are a promising sign, the next few weeks of data will be critical to concluding if this is a new downward trend.
“Numbers can rise and fall, certainly, as this natural cycle of contamination continues, especially with the holidays behind us. However, the people are recovering from COVID contracted perhaps (from) many of those social gatherings,” Demings said.
Levels of the virus in wastewater have been looked to for months as health officials try to track COVID in a given community. Results from these sampling programs can alert leaders to spikes in infections four to 10 days before the same would be reflected in positive case numbers, according to the county. Earlier this week, wastewater testing in Seminole County suggested upwards of 70% of people in Altamonte Springs may be infected, with many not even knowing it.