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Found in the Waste

A handful of cities have been able to find that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is present in their communities by testing sewage, NPR reports.

Four communities — Houston, Boulder, and two in northern California — have spotted the variant by gathering and examining wastewater samples, it adds. For Sacramento and Merced counties in California, such testing has uncovered the presence of the variant even before clinical testing in the regions. NPR notes that officials there aren't yet saying there is community transmission of Omicron, as more and longer-term data is needed.

"We're going to keep looking at it in these communities. If we see it continue to be present and start to go up, it's a really good indicator that it's circulating," Krista Wigginton from the University of Michigan, tells NPR.

Earlier in the pandemic, cities and colleges like New Haven, Connecticut, and Carmel, Indiana, and the University of Arizona had turned to wastewater sampling to uncover viral hotspots, as GenomeWeb has reported.