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COVID: Higher Levels Of Coronavirus In Wastewater Could Presage Surge In Coming Weeks

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- There are signs that a COVID surge in the United States may be just a week or two away. The Centers for Disease Control is reporting it has seen an uptick of coronavirus in wastewater samples across the country.

Cases of COVID are at their lowest levels in 8 months, but if what's going on in the United Kingdom is a sign of things to come, Dr. John Swartzberg from UC Berkeley Public Health says we may have to consider reimplementing restrictions once again.

"Right on our shores, we see a tsunami heading our way," says Dr. Swartzberg.

That tsunami Dr. Swartzberg from Berkeley Health is referring to is a flood of COVID cases identical to the current trend in the UK. A third of the CDC's wastewater sample sites have already detected an increase.

"When the amount of virus in wastewater goes up, that's the time to really start to worry about the fact that in one week, two weeks or three weeks, we may see cases starting to go up," says Swartzberg.

This comes as the US, including the Bay Area, is easing CCOVID estrictions. The same steps the UK took just two weeks ago.

"They went from being very careful to doing nothing overnight and I think they're paying the price for that right now," says Schwartzberg.

Not only are cases rising, so are hospitalizations, which usually tend to lag a couple of weeks behind. China is also seeing a major surge prompting lockdowns as the World Health Organization sends a warning that the pandemic is far from over.

But the White House will start to wind down a COVID-19 program that pays to test, treat and vaccinate those without health insurance, after Congress voted down a $22.5 billion spending bill.

Dr. Swartzberg says we are in a better position now to handle another possible surge but it will depend on how willing people may be to rebound from COVID fatigue.

"If we're really serious about monitoring carefully and pivoting quickly if we have to, then removing these requirements right now probably won't be a problem," he says.

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