Maui Coronavirus Updates

State wastewater data shows COVID-19 declining since June, confirms dominant strain

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The stacked barplot shows the relative abundance of SARS-CoV-2 variants detected in
wastewater across all counties in the state of Hawaii from samples collected from June 1 to Sept. 22, 2022. Chart: COVID-19 Wastewater Report

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health recently published a COVID-19 Wastewater Report that shows COVID-19 cases have declined since early June and the Omicron subvariant BA.5 is the dominant strain in the state.

“Data from wastewater testing aligns with other data sets,” said State Laboratories Division Administrator Edward Desmond, Ph.D, D (ABMM).

Results from COVID-19 tests taken by individuals show case counts have dropped since June. This is consistent with data in the Wastewater Report which shows concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 have declined since June. Genome sequencing shows BA.5 is the most common subvariant in Hawai‘i.

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“The Wastewater Report also supports that finding,” Desmond said.

Wastewater surveillance is another tool used to monitor COVID-19 levels in our community. It can alert officials to a shift in trends or the presence of new variants.

The Wastewater Report provides a summary of surveillance done as part of the National Wastewater Surveillance System. The Department of Health coordinates collection of samples from 15 wastewater treatment plants across the state. The samples are analyzed by Biobot Analytics as part of the national surveillance system at no cost to Hawai‘i. Biobot Analytics now provides test results about a week after samples are collected.

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“The State Laboratories Division continues to develop its own COVID-19 wastewater surveillance capabilities,” Desmond said. “Our staff is performing longitudinal validation of our own protocols by comparing results of our wastewater analysis with results of Biobot’s analysis. The fast, cost-free analysis provided by Biobot gives us desired information and affords our staff time to work toward wastewater testing for other pathogens.”

The State Laboratories Division will publish a Wastewater Report every two weeks. It will be posted on the DOH COVID-19 Data Reports page where the Variant Report is currently posted.

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