Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Wastewater COVID levels have shown a decline in recent weeks while the number of hospital admissions due to infections have seen an uptick.
The levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 infection, has dropped by 5 percent in the two weeks between Aug. 30 and Sept. 13, according to data from Biobot Analytics, a platform that tracks COVID-19 through wastewater. The presence of the virus rose in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, but declined in the South.
Amy Kirby, team lead for the National Wastewater Surveillance System at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in February 2022 that 40 to 80 percent of people with COVID-19 shed viral RNA in their feces, making wastewater and sewage "an important opportunity for monitoring the spread of infection.”
According to data tracked by the CDC, wastewater sites where virus levels rose by 10 percent to 99 percent declined between Aug. 30 and Sept. 12. However, sites where the virus levels rose by 100 percent or more showed an uptrend. The CDC notes that data may be “subject to reporting delays.”
The decline in COVID levels as reported by Biobot and at some wastewater sites per the CDC comes amid a rise in hospitalizations from the infection.
For the week ending Sept. 9, there were 20,538 new COVID-19 hospital admissions across the United States, up from 17,397 admissions for the week ending Aug. 26. It is also more than three times the 6,314 admissions for the week ending June 24.
While many media outlets are characterizing the recent increase in COVID-19 cases as alarming, the increase mimics a seasonal trend in infections seen over the past two years.
There was a similar surge in cases between June and September in 2021 and 2022, with the number of hospital admissions being higher at that time.
In an interview with ABC News, Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, pointed out that the impact of COVID-19 virus has been “much the same as it's been for the last year plus.”
“There have been ups and downs throughout the pandemic … but with this uptick, we're seeing that steady churn pattern again where there's a mix of variants and the variants are constantly changing and reemerging.”
On Sept. 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved updated COVID-19 shots from Moderna and Pfizer, a decision that has been questioned by some experts. The new vaccines have been approved for use among Americans as young as 6 months old.
Dr. Peter Marks, a top FDA official, insisted that vaccination is “critical” for protecting against COVID-19 hospitalization and death.
However, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo questioned the new vaccines. During a press conference, Dr. Ladapo pointed out that there is “essentially no evidence” supporting the use of the updated vaccines.
“There's been no clinical trial done in human beings showing that it benefits people, there's been no clinical trial showing that it is a safe product for people. And not only that, but then there are a lot of red flags,” he said.
CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen defended the new COVID-19 vaccines, suggesting that comments such as Dr. Ladapo’s are “dangerous.”
“As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it is important that Americans get the updated COVID-19 vaccine. They are proven safe; they are effective, and they have been thoroughly and independently reviewed by the FDA and CDC,” she said in a statement, according to ABC News.
“Public health experts are in broad agreement about these facts, and efforts to undercut vaccine uptake are unfounded and dangerous," she said.
Concern Over Mandates
There are also concerns that the rise in COVID-19 cases will once again lead to mask mandates. Earlier in September, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) introduced the Freedom to Breathe Act, aimed at preventing the “reimposition of federal mask mandates in the United States.”
In the Senate, Mr. Vance called for unanimous consent for the act. However, Democrats blocked the motion, “sending a clear signal to the nation that Democrats support the return of mask mandates,” Mr. Vance said in a Sept. 7 statement.
“We cannot repeat the anxiety, the stress, and the nonstop panic of the last couple of years,” he said. “That’s what this legislation is about. End the mandates, end the panic, and let’s get back to some common sense.”
In January 2021, the CDC issued an order which mandated people to wear masks when using public transportation, including on planes. However, this mandate was struck down by a federal judge a year later.
On Sept. 12, Dr. Cohen told local news outlet WCNC that she doesn’t “see any need for mandates or those kinds of things right now."
“But we have to keep watching this virus, seeing how it changes, and if we need to make other recommendations, we will.”