Florida city with no confirmed omicron cases finds COVID-19 variant in sewer water

Coronavirus

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. (WESH) — Altamonte Springs city manager Frank Martz announced on Saturday that the omicron variant was detected in the city’s wastewater after a sample was collected on Thursday.

Seminole County’s medical director Todd Husty said Altamonte Springs wastewater project also tests samples from some of Orange County.

“So we don’t know where this [variant] came from,” Husty said. “It does end up in wastewater even when we have patients that have very mild symptoms and don’t even know they have it.”

The city has been testing for the virus since April 2020. Husty said it’s a way to foreshadow what’s coming.

“[Omicron] does seem to be a milder form of COVID which is I guess the good news, but the bad news is that it’s going to start circulating,” Husty said.

The value of the wastewater testing is to prepare. Altamonte Springs city manager said the team can detect virus spikes and variants sometimes as much as one week before the people who are infected develop symptoms or test positive.

“I think we were getting a little complacent about the fact that we don’t have a pandemic anymore in Central Florida,” Husty said. “That means we’re still circulating this darn COVID virus and it’s going to mutate again. The next time it might not be so kind.”

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