ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — In the past six months of vaccine rollouts nationwide, there's been a steady decline in new cases of COVID-19.
What You Need To Know
- CDC calling Delta variant a "variant of concern"
- Doctors stress the key to stopping the spread is vaccinations
- Altamonte Springs has been testing its sewage for coronavirus
But variants of coronavirus have been rising. One variant, the Delta variant, is more contagious and more severe. Its spread across the country is happening so rapidly now that the CDC is calling it a variant of concern.
Keeping an eye on case numbers for the past year, Seminole County together with the city of Altamonte Springs has been testing its sewage for coronavirus. It’s quick and accurate.
“The reason why testing sewage is really important is because it’s the one thing we all do,” said Frank Martz, city manager for the city of Altamonte Springs. “Before you know you’re sick, we can find there are people that are sick in our community."
Martz said once vaccinations rolled out, they quickly a drop in COVID-19 cases tracked through sewage.
“The amount of virus overall is going down but the concentration of variants is actually going up,” Martz said.
The latest sampling from their three sewage test areas found five out of the seven COVID-19 variants, Martz said. One that wasn’t present in that sample – the Delta Variant – but still, its spread is causing global concern.
“Not only is it more contagious, it’s more serious disease that it tends to cause so you may have more hospitalizations, more risk of death associated with it,” said Dr. Jarod Fox, chairman of the Infectious Diseases Department with Orlando Health.
Recently, the CDC joined the World Health Organization in naming it a variant of concern. The Delta variant now accounts for 10% of all coronavirus cases in the US, according to the CDC.
Fox said the concern here is how rapidly it will spread, especially after seeing how fast the variant traveled through India and the UK.
"In the UK, they've seen a recent spike in the number of cases there and it's the predominant variant there. And I think the concern is it may become the predominant variant here as well," Fox said.
The most important thing to do that will stop the spread of the Delta variant and others like it, according to Fox, is to get more people vaccinated quickly.
“What I’ve been telling my patients is that you have two choices: to get vaccinated or to get the infection. And with this new variant, you’re taking a much higher risk of ending up in the hospital,” Fox said.
While data collected from what’s flowing through Altamonte Springs’ sewer systems hasn’t yet identified the Delta variant, if it does, Martz said their samples will pick it up quickly, likely before anyone even realizes they’re sick.