New wastewater surveillance report highlights need for expansion, standardization

This week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a major report about the state of wastewater surveillance for infectious diseases in the U.S. The report, written by a committee of top experts (and peer-reviewed before its release), is an extensive description of the promise and the challenges of wastewater testing.

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Looking ahead to the big COVID-19 stories of 2023

As someone who’s been reporting on COVID-19 since the beginning, a new year is a good opportunity to parse out what feels like an eternity of pandemic reporting. So this week, I reflected on the major trends and topics I hope to cover in 2023—both building on my work from prior years and taking it in new directions.

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National numbers, January 8

Well, here we are: the winter COVID-19 surge. It may have happened later than some experts predicted, but the U.S. is clearly now experiencing an uptick in virus transmission as the latest, most contagious Omicron subvariants collide with holiday travel and gatherings.

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National numbers, December 18

After a significant post-Thanksgiving spike, COVID-19 transmission in the U.S. appears to be in a high plateau, according to trends in cases and wastewater. Official case counts stayed fairly steady this week compared to the week following the holiday, according to the CDC, while wastewater data from Biobot show coronavirus concentrations leveling out.

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National numbers, December 4

If the U.S. wasn’t at the start of a COVID-19 surge before Thanksgiving, we’re certainly in one now. While official case counts have stagnated, wastewater surveillance indicates that the country is seeing about 1.5 times the coronavirus transmission that we had three weeks ago, according to data from Biobot.

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Where to find wastewater data for your community

As we head into the holidays with limited COVID-19 testing and undercounted case numbers, wastewater surveillance is the best way to evaluate how much the virus is spreading in your region. And it’s now available in more places than ever, thanks to the many research groups and public health agencies setting up sewage testing.

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