COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Shows San Diego’s Case Surge is Slowing

COVID-19 wastewater data now shows that the record spread of the virus in San Diego is beginning to fall.

“We’re coming off the surge for sure,” said UC San Diego Professor Rob Knight. “However, it’s possible that cases will continue to rise or maybe peak around now.”

Knight leads the project that has been analyzing San Diegans sewage from the Point Loma treatment plan over the last two years. He said wastewater is a leading indicator of the virus’ spread, with data typically three weeks ahead of confirmed cases.

UCSD Reports ‘Unprecedented’ Spike in COVID Virus in San Diego Wastewater

An “unprecedented” spike in COVID-19 viral load in wastewater collected from San Diego County’s primary wastewater treatment facility was reported Saturday by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers.

The amount of COVID-19 virus detected in wastewater has predicted the region’s COVID-19 caseload up to three weeks ahead of clinical diagnostic reports, the researchers said. Since people with COVID-19 shed the virus in their stool even before they experience symptoms, wastewater screening acts as an early warning system.

“The wastewater screening results reported on Friday are unlike any the team has seen before,” said Jackie Carr of UC San Diego Health. Both Delta and Omicron variants of the virus were detected in the wastewater.