ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Cases of COVID-19 are going up across Colorado, and the situation is comparable to the spike the state saw around this time last year.
But in some places, there's an even higher spike in wastewater samples.
"Yeah, we're like the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. We get to see it first and have an idea of what's coming in the future," said Blair Corning, South Platte Renew's deputy director of environmental programs.
Corning said the glimpse of what we could see in future cases is interesting.
"Currently we're having a big spike," he said. "Like the second-biggest spike, there was a big one back around December, and it's spiking up again."
He's referencing data from BioBot, the company they contract with that shows the prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19 spiking on May 1, second only during the pandemic to a spike last winter.
"I've been watching it we get it twice a week," said Corning.
Epidemiologists from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in an email they are seeing a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, but "there may also be a higher prevalence in the wastewater because people may be taking rapid tests at home and those results are not included on our dashboard."
A spike on a graph is concerning but state health officials still believe the high levels of immunity from vaccinations will help protect Coloradans from being hospitalized, and keep that patient spike lower than before.
COVID-19 hospitalizations are up in Colorado, but not at the rate we saw this time last year. According to CDPHE data, 110 people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19 statewide.
Once South Platte Renew is finished with the water samples it tests, they disinfect the water using sodium hypochlorite, a stronger version of household bleach that kills bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19.
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