Slight COVID Uptick Seen in Wastewater Testing at Point Loma Plant

by on March 22, 2022 · 2 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach, San Diego

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After weeks of decline, experts who track coronavirus levels in San Diego’s wastewater at the Point Loma plant say they are starting to see a slight uptick in viral load, which could be an indication that the new wave of the pandemic that has hit foreign countries has now reached Southern California.

The last data analyzed from Point Loma on March 13 and March 14 show an uptick.

“This slight uptick is not something to be alarmed about, but something we’re watching with caution,” Dr. Christopher Longhurt, Chief Medical Officer at UC San Diego Health, told ABC 10News Monday, March 21.

Several countries, including the United Kingdom and China, have seen a recent spike in COVID cases, possibily linked to the new BA.2 subvariant of Omicron. In the United States, experts have been looking more and more to wastewater testing as the best early indicator of a COVID surge. UCSD began testing wastewater early in the pandemic, with broader testing also now being done at other sites in San Diego County, including the Point Loma Sewage Treatment Plant.

Longhurst says wastewater testing showed signs of the Delta Wave in 2021 nearly three weeks before case numbers began to jump. Similarly, wastewater testing suggested the Omicron wave would be the biggest yet, with those indictators coming a week before the rise in cases in January.

Longhurst says the last data analyzed from Point Loma on March 13 and March 14 show an uptick.

While he says it’s too early to tell for sure and more data is needed, he hopes San Diego’s high vaccination rate, combined with the high number of people recently infected with Omicron, could keep the new wave manageable. Still, he suggests San Diegans take a risk-based approach, meaning those who have medical reasons to believe they may be more susceptible to severe disease from COVID may want to increase the level of precautions they are taking.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie March 23, 2022 at 4:07 pm

I wonder about the tourists affecting our waste water numbers. I understand that they’re mingling in popular public areas, like the beach, but I’m just curious if other cities that monitor waste water take tourism, or lack of, into account.

I still think waste water is probably our best way to “predict” and hospital data is the best “snapshot”


sealintheselkirks March 23, 2022 at 4:26 pm

I just love the term ‘manageable.’ When a public health emergency is controlled by private economic interests over public health, we expect what kind of outcome? Magical thinking, that ‘cautiously optimistic’ as I’ve read recently, overshadows the science? Absurd.

Omicron BA.2 jumped the pond already from the UK and is loose in the Northeast. Like the first strain, it is also sidestepping the vaccines. That is not good news. And with a short 3 month antibody immunity those that caught it in Dec/Jan are going to be open to re-infection by April. A 4th Wave?

Two articles below. Keep wearing a mask. Better safe than sorry as my granny used to say.


Two years later, coronavirus evolution still surprises experts. Here’s why.
Scientists and physicians continue to be amazed by how quickly the virus evolves, what it does to the human body, and how it moves through species.

Estimated COVID deaths may be three times higher than we think

Some 18 million people across the globe may have died in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — three times the number previously reported by the WHO, according to a new Lancet study.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) set out to measure something called “excess mortality” — the difference between the number of deaths during the first wave of the COVID pandemic and the number of deaths that would have occurred in its absence.


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