Wastewater reports predict decline in Omicron in Twin Cities area

Feb 10, 2022

Amid the pandemic, the University of Minnesota Genomics Center (UMGC) and the Metro wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul have been working together to test wastewater for COVID-19 to predict trends for the Twin Cities area.

Monitoring the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater allows public health experts to know what geographic locations will have a high number of cases, without testing mass groups of people. Although there are still new cases emerging, the data predicted a decline in omicron cases by the week of Feb. 6 according to Kat Dodge, a spokesperson from the Medical School.

The omicron variant was first observed in the wastewater in mid-December. During the peak of omicron cases in early January, 1,047 million copies of COVID-19 gene fragments came into the plant each day. By the end of January, this number decreased to 133 million gene fragments a day, according to Dr. Steve Balogh, a research scientist in the Metropolitan Council’s Environmental Services division.

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