Wastewater testing shows most local COVID-19 cases now Omicron

Jan 6, 2022

ENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Almost all new COVID-19 cases are likely the Omicron variant, the Washoe County Health District reported Wednesday.

It bases that assessment on University of Nevada, Reno researchers who are checking for the variant in Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility wastewater. The facility on the eastern side of the valley just south of Interstate 80 processes most wastewater for the area.

Only a portion of the COVID-19 tests on people are screened for the presence of the Omicron variant, which so far has been shown to be milder than other versions of the virus but spreads much easier.

Omicron showed up in the wastewater on Dec. 12 but it wasn’t detected by a COVID-19 test until Dec. 20, the health district said.

“Based on the wastewater sampling almost all of the current new cases should be considered to be Omicron,” the district said in a statement.

The samples are collected from 12 sewer sites all over the region. Cases jumped dramatically during the Christmas holidays and has increased 10-fold in the last several months.

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