Our city has long been in the forefront of innovation when it comes to wastewater treatment. I'm proud of Altamonte Springs. The latest news, however, has me puzzled.

They're now testing our wastewater for evidence of COVID-19 infections.

Actually, I think that sounds clever. It's the results I question. According to this news story, 70% percent of our residents are infected with COVID-19.

Seventy percent! Does that make any sense at all? Later in the same story, it is claimed that half of the people getting tested are positive.

Wait just a minute. Who is it who gets tested? I know that some folks submit to testing, sick or not, because of their jobs, their travel plans, or because they've gone into the hospital with a broken leg and been tested for COVID because that's what hospitals do. But generally speaking, the people who bother to get tested are those who are experiencing some symptoms of illness. Those of us who think we are healthy don't bother.

So how is it that 70% of us actually have COVID when the tests, heavily weighted towards those who know they are sick, are only coming in at 50%?

All I can think of is that the COVID tests, or being ill with something other than COVID, or even breaking your leg, is somehow protective against the COVID-19 virus itself.

This may be a strange disease, but come on, it's not that strange.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 5:35 am | Edit
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I hoping the results are accurate, even if the math seems odd. If 70% of us have the disease and haven't a clue that we do, at least most of the population is developing antibodies. That's got to be a good thing, right?

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 8:53 am

I'm guessing that the results really say that there's COVID in 70% of the small units in the sewage system that they are testing. Even if they actually could test every building's sewage separately, they couldn't know how many of the residents were infected.

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 12:58 pm

The tests are weighted toward those who have symptoms (plus routine testing). Not everyone with symptoms has Covid-19. I believe the tests here have roughly a 35% positive rate right now; it used to be much lower. The line initially was that a higher positive rate than 5% meant there were quite a few people infected that weren't testing; that changed as self-administered tests became available, leading to an increase in the positive rate.

But I agree that it seems audacious to conclude an infection rate from viral presence in combined wastewater.

Posted by Stephan on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 6:10 pm

Subsequent levels have been much higher, then much lower. At this point I'm still proud of our city, but don't trust any of the numbers. (More to the point, I don't trust the reporting of the numbers. But I don't much care. I'm just happy that so many people are developing antibodies without suffering any obvious symptoms.

Posted by SursumCorda on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 7:15 pm
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