UK, California COVID-19 variants found in Boise-area wastewater

Feb 17, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — Testing of wastewater from several Ada County cities has identified the presence of two variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, officials announced Wednesday.

Idaho health officials have been warning that the variants, first discovered in California and the United Kingdom, would likely be in the Gem State soon, if they were not already.


At this point, not a lot is known about the California variant.

"We don’t know at this point whether or not the California variant is more infectious than the commonly circulating COVID viruses," CDH Communicable Disease Control Manager Kimberly Link said.

It's also not known if the California variant is more deadly. The wastewater samples were submitted from Boise, Eagle, and Garden City.

"It’s an equalizer, we’re able to test the whole community in one snapshot and not rely on the individual clinical data," City of Boise Environmental Manager Haley Falconer said. "I think those two things together are really powerful in understanding what is going on in the community."

Officials say the level of variant virus found was low - with each version making up about 2% of the viruses sequenced.

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