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Findings in Louisville wastewater suggest possible new COVID surge

Numbers outside of Kentucky show a potential wave already in progress.
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s confusing timing.

Tuesday, America’s health officials urged caution while numbers suggest that the United States is winning its battle against COVID-19.

“We are expecting there would be a surge, not only in the number of cases of the virus,” Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, Director of the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute said, “but also in the importation of these new variants particularly from New York, Florida and California.”

Since a post-holiday spike of 4,000 cases of COVID-19 in January, Louisville Metro has seen numbers drop steadily. The trend continued through March, reaching numbers similar to those in July.

(Story continues below graph)

Jefferson County COVID cases graph
Jefferson County COVID cases graph(Department of Public Health and Wellness)

However, some experts said the local numbers do not tell the whole story and are not showing what may be just ahead.

“We think we are back where we were in October,” Bhatnagar said, “and that was again at the edge of the threshold of a surge that eventually went through November into December. And so, we are concerned that we don’t want to repeat the same scenario again.”

Bhatnagar said samples indicating the presence of COVID-19 variants show both the United Kingdom and California variants in south and west Louisville wastewater.

Daily confirmed new COVID-19 cases provided by Johns Hopkins University
Daily confirmed new COVID-19 cases provided by Johns Hopkins University(WAVE 3 News / Johns Hopkins University)

Louisville Metro Health Director Dr. Sarah Moyer recommends getting vaccinated.

“We know that there are a higher number of variants in our areas of town that have lower vaccination rates,” Moyer said, “and so, [we are] just trying to get our entire community vaccinated.”

Numbers outside of Kentucky show a potential wave already in progress. According to reports from Johns Hopkins University, after reaching a low of 53,000 new cases just one week ago, new cases in the U.S. suddenly rebounded to 65,000 on Monday.

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