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Scientists say wastewater shows COVID is on the decline in Missouri

The state health department has been utilizing this method since the height of the pandemic. It's helped them stay on top of the latest variants.

ST. LOUIS — There are some promising signs COVID-19 may be declining in the St. Louis area. Experts say they know that because they've analyzed your wastewater.

The state health department said for the first time in more than a month, the amount of COVID found in wastewater has dropped.

For some two years now, scientists have carefully examined your wastewater to determine just how much COVID-19 is in the community.

"Everyone uses the toilet,” said Bess McCoy with the Metropolitan St. Lewis Sewer District.

They're monitoring those water samples every single week. Now there’s a new discovery. Viral loads have decreased in that wastewater, meaning COVID appears to be on the decline in the area.

"We have a machine that will take a sample about every half hour so we’re getting a really comprehensive sample,” McCoy said.

The state health department has been utilizing this method since the height of the pandemic. It's helped them stay on top of the latest variants.

"We were able to see as Omicron was moving into the St. Louis area,” said Jeff Wenzel with Missouri’s Health and Senior Services.

They analyze 100 communities across the state to provide a snapshot of the general population. Experts say while COVID seems to be loosening its grip, those variants are still out there.

"We’re seeing mostly Omicron but Delta is still hanging on in some areas,” Wenzel said, pointing to rural areas especially.

Meanwhile, they're going to continue monitoring your wastewater, a tool that's proven useful since not everyone is getting tested for COVID.

"A lot of people don't know this but St. Louis' earliest modern sewers were the result of an epidemic, the Cholera epidemic. This is just one other example of how we’re able to use our sewers and use utilities to promote public health,” McCoy added.

Some 50 other communities in the state are also using this method of Covid detection. If you'd like, you can monitor the trends for yourself by visiting this website.