Omicron Variant Detected in Wastewater Throughout Larimer County

Susan De Long, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and students Nicholas Mohammed and Thomas Anderson, sample wastewater from one of 17 collection sites on campus to be tested for COVID-19. The actual testing will be done by Prof. Carol Wilusz' lab on campus. September 6, 2020

State and local health officials are notifying the Larimer County community that the COVID-19 omicron variant was recently detected at multiple wastewater treatment facilities throughout the county.

Municipal sewer sheds throughout the county are monitored to detect whether the COVID-19 virus and its variants are present. Many people who have COVID-19 also shed the virus in their stool. This means that wastewater coming from businesses and places of residence can serve as an early warning signal that COVID-19 is present in a specific area. More information about wastewater testing in Larimer County can be found at bit.ly/larimerwastewater.

Scientists are still learning about the omicron variant however it is clear that it has a significantly greater ability to transmit from person to person than previous variants. Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) reminds residents that vaccination and booster doses against COVID-19 remain the most important step that individuals can do for their own health and the health of the community. In addition to getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, LCDHE recommends that anyone having symptoms of COVID-19 get tested right away. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should isolate themselves from others and contact their healthcare provider to ask about treatment options. There are free drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in Larimer County, with results returned in 2-3 days:

  • Foundations Church, 1380 N. Denver Ave, Loveland, open 8:00-6:00 M-F
  • Timberline Church, 2908 S Timberline Rd, Fort Collins, open 8:00-6:00 M-F (closed 12/24)
  • Estes Park Event Complex, 1125 Rooftop Way, Estes Park, open 8:00-5:00 M-F.LCDHE also recommends rapid at-home testing, even without symptoms, immediately before gathering with others over the holidays. Testing right before gathering can reduce the likelihood that someone at the gathering is in their infectious period. Rapid tests can be purchased locally in drugstores and Colorado provides no-cost rapid tests that can be shipped straight to someone’s home. For more information on the at-home testing program please visit: covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-testing-at-home.

The Larimer County Department of Health & Environment has web pages dedicated to helping residents find information about COVID-19, including vaccination, testing, and accessing COVID-19 treatments at www.larimer.org/covid19. Individuals may also call LCDHE at 970-498-5500 for assistance. Phone assistance is available in English and Spanish.

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