Eureka wastewater samples recently collected as part of a nationwide COVID-19 tracking program are showing virus concentration levels higher than 99 percent of other samples submitted from across the nation in the last six weeks, according to the city.
Local cases have skyrocketed, with Humboldt County just last week recording its highest single-day count of new cases since the pandemic began a year and a half ago. Over the weekend, 124 cases were confirmed for a total of 260 since July 26.
“As much as we may want it to be, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet," County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in the city’s news release. “Vaccination is still the best measure to protect yourself and the community from COVID-19. Masking and social distancing is also advised. This new local data including both rising case counts and now the wastewater testing results are cause for concern. Everyone must continue to do their part to protect themselves and each other.”
According to a state database, 20 residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including seven under intensive care.
Brian Gerving, the city’s Public Works director, who emphasizes in the release that wastewater is a completely different system from drinking water, states the data indicating elevated levels of COVID-19 circulating in the greater Eureka area, when compared to other areas of the country, provides important information for the community at-large.
“We are making this (National Wastewater Surveillance System) information public so that citizens can also take early action and remember to follow all guidance to better protect themselves and their families,” he said.